MIGreatArtist competition names five finalists

By: Jessica Strachan | Southfield Sun | Published August 29, 2012

 “Abe” was created by Charles Boike, a Flint artist originally from Detroit. Boike is a street and urban graffiti artist at heart and likes to depict American subject matter with the flare of pop-art style.

“Abe” was created by Charles Boike, a Flint artist originally from Detroit. Boike is a street and urban graffiti artist at heart and likes to depict American subject matter with the flare of pop-art style.

SOUTHFIELD — The five finalists from the MIGreatArtist competition have been announced, and the artists are winning much more than bragging rights.

Charles Boike of Flint, Kim Fujiwara of Rochester Hills, Deborah Hyde of West Bloomfield, Douglas La Ferle of Royal Oak, and Molly Landis of Pontiac have been chosen as the top contestants in the initiative by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

Among the prizes will be a public exhibit together at Park West Gallery in Southfield Sept. 4-28. Morris Shapiro, gallery director at Park West, said the value of that prize alone is great.

“They will see their work installed and displayed in a world-class gallery next to works by artists of international fame, enjoy viewing by the public for several weeks, have sales opportunities if they so desire and participate in the award ceremony exhibition opening,” he explained via email, adding that Park West was happy to be involved in the initiative.

“As a company that supports art, artists and culture in the community, we were excited to be a sponsor of the competition and allow so many gifted artists, who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity, to expose their work to the broad public.”

Patterson and Albert Scaglione, founder and CEO of Park West Gallery, launched the MIGreatArtist contest in June for artists in Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, Genesee, Lapeer and St. Clair counties.

After a round of public voting, the top 20 finalists were narrowed down for the panel of five professional judges.

Southfield’s Stephanie Hill-Ross made it to the top 20 and said she was honored to represent her hometown in the competition.

“There were other Southfield artists in the competition as well, but the first thing I noticed about the top 20 is that there were artists from Farmington Hills, Bloomfield Hills, several from northern Oakland County, but I’m the only one from Southfield. I just thought, wow. I’m very happy,” she said during the final week before the five finalists were announced.

Shapiro said judges looked for originality, technical quality, creativity, content and a “wow” factor. They weren’t the only ones choosing which artists deserved to advance in the competition, however, and that’s what Shapiro and others behind the competition believe helped make it so popular.

“By allowing both the general public and the judges, who are arts professionals, to mutually evaluate the works, the broadest spectrum of criteria (is) covered,” he said. “When a balance is reached between the public and the art world, one can in confidence say that the work is resonating on many levels, and a really good artist is deserving of the attention he or she will receive.”

More than 120 artists from the area entered the contest, and over 13,500 votes were cast online to narrow down the top 20. The overall winner of the MIGreatArtist competition will be announced at an award ceremony and reception Sept. 14 at Park West Gallery.

The winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize; up to five submitted artworks framed by Park West Gallery, a value of $500; a scholarship to attend classes on marketing and starting a new business offered through the Oakland County Business Center, worth $700. They’ll have their artwork featured on a poster to promote one of Oakland County’s signature quality-of-life events, printed by Park West Gallery, a value of $700, plus solo exhibitions at McLaren Oakland Hospital in Pontiac and Lawrence Technological University in Southfield.

The four runners-up will each receive a $250 cash prize, the framing of up to five artworks included in the submission at Park West Gallery, a scholarship to attend a Business Basics workshop through the Oakland County Business Center, a one-hour consultation with an Oakland County business development representative, and a two-month solo exhibition in the Oakland County Galleria in Waterford.

For more information, go to www.MIGreatArtist.com.