Discovering host Brian Whitens at 906 Outdoors visited the "Crossing the Straits" exhibit and gallery reception at Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island. The artwork is on it's way to ArtPrize in Grand Rapids Sept. 19.

Whitens talked with Pasqua Warstler with the Bonifas Arts Center, artist and Northern Michigan University instructor Brian Kakas, Finlandia University instructer Denise Vandeville, artist Levi Grannis, artist Rose Peltier, artist Carol Irving, artist and Mackinac Arts Council Director Philip Rice, artist Peg Sandin and Jacklyn Arnest with Venue Tower Apartments.


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Listen to the interview with Jacklyn Arnest

When the 46 artists from the Upper Peninsula display their artwork at ArtPrize in September, most will be at the Venue Tower Apartments, a building in downtown Grand Rapids.

Jacklyn Arnest, director of marketing with DTN Management, said having the art collection helps to better understand the U.P.

"ArtPrize recommended this for our space so we opened Venue Tower last year and the two and half story entrance to the building is the perfect canvas to showcase multiple pieces, large scale pieces. We found it to be just the right mix," Arnest said.

Arnest called the submissions from the U.P. phenomenal. She was at the opening of the Crossing the Straits exhibit at Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island.

"It features everything from tapestries to woodcuts. You have acrylic, you have ceramics, you have an artificial intelligence piece and holographic piece. It really brings every type of art to showcase and bring a novice like myself into the enjoyment of the collection and understanding the U.P. better," said Arnest.

The pieces will be moved to Venue Towers in Grand Rapids for the opening of ArtPrize on Sept. 19.


Students at Finlandia and Northern Michigan Universities in the Upper Peninsula who are participating in ArtPrize, the international art competition in Grand Rapids, are being given an insight into the world of art as a business.

Denise Vandeville, dean of art and design at Finlandia University, says it helps the students to understand the oppotunities available to them as a working artist.

"When we work with the students we want them to understand the business aspects of the art and design world so that instead of just being makers they are also sellers and can make a living with their work," Vandeville said.

Brian Kakas, associate professor of ceramic art at NMU, says it helps get students out of the classroom and into the position of being a successful artist.

"Experiencing not just in the studio but that next step of stepping outside the studio sharing what it is you're passionate about, networking and educating others on what art is or what art isn't," said Kakas.

The students' artwork are on display on Mackinac Island through Sept. 7 as part of the Crossing the Straits exhibit at Mission Point Resort. ArtPrize starts Sept. 19 in Grand Rapids.


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Listen to the interview with Phillip Rice, Mackinac Arts Council

Phillip Rice says grouping Upper Peninsula artists at venues at the international ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids sheds a good light on the U.P.

More than 40 U.P. artists choosen to display at ArtPrize with 75 pieces of art are currently on display at Mackinac Island as part of the Crossing the Straits exhibit. Most are at the Mission Point Resort art gallery.

Rice is the program director at the Mackinac Arts Council. He said art can be used to promote the U.P.

"I think it's really important to show the general public that the Upper Peninsula has a contingency of artists at ArtPrize and a great way to do that is through a preview," Rice said. "By getting all of the artwork at one place in the U.P., visitors that want to learn more about it will encounter the artwork and see that there's a lot of artists up here."

Rice said he hopes people are impressed with the quantity and quality of the artwork on display at the island.

He took the uniqueness of the Mackinac Bridge in his own project submitted to ArtPrize. Recording different pitches of traffic crossing the bridge, he set the tones to a small keyboard that people can play.

"When you drive over the bridge it makes that tone that rings in your ears when you go over the grate. I mapped it onto a little keyboard so you can put on headphones and play a song with the bridge tone," Rice explained.

Rice has attended every ArtPrize since it started but this is the first time he will be one of the artists in the competition.


Rose Peltier of Escanaba was on Mackinac Island Sunday to see her creation standing guard in the lobby of the Chippewa Hotel.

Marley is a 5 foot 3 inch high lion made almost entirely of colorful fabric. He took nine months to complete and is turning heads wherever he sits.

"It's been pretty amazing," Peltier said. "He's actually taken me on a nice ride. I did not expect that when I first started making him. In fact, I didn't know if I'd finish him."

Peltier has been making quilts for years but this is her first major artwork. To be choosen to be an artist at the international art competition, ArtPrize, in Grand Rapids is pretty remarkable.

"He does have a very nice venue. He's going to be staying at Lions & Rabbits Art Gallery in Grand Rapids on Plainfield Avenue. So if anyone wants to go down there and see Marley, he will be there. And if you are there, please vote for Marley," said Peltier.

Public voting is how awards are presented. More than $500-thousand is awarded each year.

For now, Marley will remain at the Chippewa Hotel on Mackinac Island as part of the Crossing the Straits exhibit of artists choosen for ArtPrize. In all, 46 artists from the U.P. are on display through Sept. 7. ArtPrize starts Sept 12.


A reception was held Sunday for the opening of the Crossing the Straits exhibit at Mackinac Island. Artists from across the U.P. are heading to show at ArtPrize, an international art competition in Grand Rapids. Their work is on display before joining the larger competition.

Mark Ware, CEO of Mission Point Resort and president of the Mackinac Island Arts Council said the Crossing the Straits exhibit is a great opportunity to display so many artists from the Upper Peninsula.

"It's phenomenal," he said. "We have photography, we have tapestries, we have paintings, we have lots of different mixed media, we have sound. It's really a phenomenal opportunity to see all of these different artists and different artwork being displayed."

The main part of the exhibit is at Mission Point Resort although artwork is being displayed at several other businesses throughout the island. Ware said art appreciation on the island is growing.

"We have been working with the arts council to grow opportunities for visitors and residents to experience the arts and for artists to show their work on the island. So, we have two advocacy programs. One is to develop artists. The other is the opportunity for guests to experience the artwork," Ware said.

The exhibit will be open until Sept 7 before the artwork heads to Grand Rapids. ArtPrize opens Sept. 12.


See how Michigan’s Upper Peninsula inspires and emboldens the art world!

Scroll through ArtPrize at and check out the U.P. artists and their artwork.
You will see that the Upper Peninsula is a distinctive region rich in arts and culture and a must-see-destination.

DOWNLOAD PDF: ArtPrize Walking Map

Go to to start your exploration north of the bridge and map your U.P. art and culture destinations —enrich your life!

ArtPrize in in Grand Rapids, MI, Sept 20 - Oct 8.


Artists from the U.P. could not ask for a better venue to have their art displayed than at the world’s largest arts competition – ArtPrize – going on now in Grand Rapids.

Artists’ work will be viewed by over 400,000 visitors, giving the message that the U.P. is a unique arts and culture destination.

“Our U.P. artists will be featured in a number of venues throughout Grand Rapids, with our home base being at the Acton Institute, in downtown Grand Rapids,” explained Bonifas Artistic Director Pasqua Warstler. “We encourage folks to follow the artists by checking updates on our website and social media sites.”

A listing of the U.P. artists and where to find their work at ArtPrize will be posted on the Bonifas website for the duration of ArtPrize.


Dear U.P. Artist,

Due to some difference of opinion regarding selection criteria with the Harris Building we would like to encourage all artists to attempt and except connections from any venue they think will serve them best. It is our sole desire to have a strong U.P. presence at ArtPrize 2017 and so we will continue with our efforts to promote all participating U.P. artists and to present the PrePrize exhibit at the Center for the Arts at Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island.

Tracking UP Artists Participation:
We ask that once you have made a venue connection, please notify the Bonifas Arts Center ( so that we can track all participating U.P. artists and include you in this year U.P. Vote Campaign.

We will need your contact info / website / ArtPrize image & dimensions / artist statement / venue name & location & their contact info. You must also confirm whether or not you would like to be considered for U.P. PrePrize exhibit at Mackinac Island.

More about the PrePrize @ Mackinac Island: August 20 - September 9
This is an invitational and selection will be based not only on artistic merit, but also logistics like space availability, and artwork availability prior to ArtPrize deadlines. To be considered, you must indicate your interest when you notify the Bonifas of your acceptance to ArtPrize and your venue location.

NOTE: The PrePrize exhibit will be just prior to ArtPrize. This means that your ArtPrize artwork must be completed early and delivered to the Bonifas by Wednesday, August 16.
Bonifas Arts Center and the Mackinac Island Arts Council will be providing transportation assistance from the Bonifas to the island and from the island to Grand Rapids.

The reception will be Sunday, August 20 at 2 p.m. at the Center for the Arts, Mission Point Resort.

We are still working out details regarding delivery to individual Grand Rapids venues and those installations. Please remember that being an ArtPrize artist means that you are responsible for your transportation and installation. As we learn the details regarding the participants and the venues, we will work with you in planning the details of transporting PrePrize artwork to Grand Rapids. In the meantime, please consider being a volunteer on the "gallery crew" and/or for making your own installation arrangements for the Grand Rapids venue. We will keep you posted once we have more information.

Important ArtPrize 9 Dates:
Artist Registration — April 17 - June 8
Connections — April 26 - June 22
Preview Week — September 13-19
ArtPrize Nine — September 20 - October 8

How to make a connection:
We are looking forward to showcase the U.P. as a strong and dynamic arts and culture region.

Pasqua Warstler
Bonifas Arts Center
ArtPrize artist 2009

Cindy Wedig
ArtPrize Team Member
ArtPrize artist 2016

U.P. at ArtPrize

The Bonifas Arts Center has been in discussions with a new ArtPrize venue in the hopes of creating a second U.P. Pavilion, a display space featuring Upper Peninsula art at Grand Rapids’ celebrated, international art show and competition.

Those working for ArtPrize are “excited about the possibility of another U.P. Pavilion” and willing to help facilitate it, and the U.P. Travel & Recreation Association and U.P. legislators also have endorsed the project, said Pasqua Warstler, Bonifas artistic director.

She hopes to finalize negotiations with the venue and announce it in early May, “so artists can check the Bonifas website then,” she said. If plans unfold as anticipated, the Bonifas also will help organize a pre-ArtPrize exhibit in the U.P. where residents can view works to be shown in the pavilion, said Warstler.

Warstler encouraged all U.P. artists to submit work to ArtPrize. “Now is the time to spin those ideas, get in that studio, finish that work, and prepare to submit,” she said. Artists can register now through June 8, and ArtPrize runs Sept. 20-Oct. 8. Artists can register and find additional details at


At the peak of fall, Kellie Hanson, a mosaic artist from Wallace, reminds us not to take the U.P.’s beauty for granted:

Her art, which is featured in the Bonifas’ current exhibit, often honors the beauty of birch trees; sunflowers and other blooms, such as poppies and daisies; rivers; and various types of birds. Hanson said she is inspired by what she sees outside.

“Living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I see things like that outside my door all the time—water and beautiful skies and sand and beaches—and a lot of people don’t get to see that on a daily basis. Living in the U.P., it is inspiring. It’s hard not to see something beautiful.”

Hanson, whose art recently was exhibited at the downtown Divani gallery & restaurant as part of ArtPrize, a celebrated international art show/competition in Grand Rapids, said she also was inspired by her first time submitting to and attending ArtPrize.

“The amount of artwork” exhibited there, with so many talented artists creating such diverse works, “was just unbelievable,” said Hanson, from mobile-like installations, astounding in their construction; to wood carvings of dogs, moving in the ways they got viewers thinking about war. “It’s just amazing how people’s minds work,” she said, and viewing art, she believes, “inspires you automatically” to think, see, or create differently, “to try something new or to go in a different direction.”

Hanson’s work and art by the 51 U.P. artists just back from ArtPrize can be viewed in the upper and lower galleries through Nov. 2 at the “U.P. Premiere” exhibit. Viewing is free and open to the public.



Anyone that can’t make it to Grand Rapids to view the 51 Upper Peninsula artists to be exhibited at ArtPrize, a celebrated international art show/competition, can view their work at the “U.P. Premiere” exhibit Oct. 15 to Nov. 2 at the Bonifas Arts Center gallery.

The “U.P. Premiere” will showcase the 28 artists whose work was selected to be displayed at ArtPrize Sept. 21-Oct. 9 in the first-ever all-U.P. art exhibit in the U.P. Pavilion at DeVos Place, as well as those chosen to be displayed at other ArtPrize venues.

“Grand Rapids is like 12.5 hours away,” said Peg Sandin, who lives in the Ironwood area on the Wisconsin/Michigan border, so the exhibit is a “wonderful opportunity to view the collection” for residents who can’t or don’t want to travel downstate. Viewing is free and open to the public.

In addition, all residents are invited to a free “welcome home” reception Oct. 22 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Bonifas.

All U.P. residents should feel proud of the art chosen to be displayed at ArtPrize, said Sandin, whose watercolor, Lake Superior Rocks III, will be exhibited in the U.P. Pavilion. “Just getting this far has been monumental, and we need to celebrate it.”

“We want to honor our U.P. artists who will offer hundreds of thousands of ArtPrize viewers a really cool look at the U.P.,” said Pasqua Warstler, Bonifas artistic director.

The exhibit will be “all of us in the U.P. celebrating who we are” and the fact that the U.P. Pavilion is “something really good” that will benefit the U.P. and ArtPrize, said Cindy Wedig, of Gwinn, whose sculptural work, Blocks of Time, will be exhibited in the Pavilion.

“People need to understand that the arts are flourishing up here,” said Sandin, “and people in the U.P. need to understand that art is flourishing in their homeland.”

“We’re bringing world-class artwork back to the U.P.,” said Warstler. “It’s a nice reminder to our U.P. community that we have world-class artists here.”

The exhibit is sponsored by the Michigan Council for the Arts & Cultural Affairs, The Movers: Escanaba Moving Systems, Thrivent Financial, U-Haul, and Imperial Beverage.


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