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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.


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 www.artprize.org.


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