Artists from around the world come together for online art show

By: Kristyne E. Demske | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published June 4, 2020

 “I Give You the Ocean,” a mixed media piece on canvas, by Beate Arens, of Binissalem, Majorca Baleric Island, Spain.

“I Give You the Ocean,” a mixed media piece on canvas, by Beate Arens, of Binissalem, Majorca Baleric Island, Spain.

Image provided by Anton Art Center

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MOUNT CLEMENS — “We were practically watching physical gallery spaces close before our eyes.”

Phil Gilchrist — the executive director of the Anton Art Center, 125 Macomb Place — said that, in times of crisis, the arts can provide a way for people to express their feelings and communicate them to others. But with no galleries where the art could be shared with others, “the entire community, really, has turned to the internet.”

So has the Anton Art Center.

After it was forced to close its doors due to the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order, the center launched a global call for artists to submit their work for an juried international online exhibit, ultimately receiving a total of 1,524 entries from 518 artists from 30 U.S. states and 44 countries. It debuted at www.theartcenter.org/exhibits May 22 and will remain open through 2020.

Gilchrist said that this is the first time the center has held an online exhibit, so they didn’t know what to expect. While small group shows usually bring in 50-60 entries, the Michigan Annual Exhibit has about 300 entries, and even the annual student show at the center brings in about a thousand entries, “this really just blew all of those out of the water.”

Juried by Gilchrist and Anton Art Center Exhibition Manager Stephanie Hazzard, the entries were submitted in three categories: youth age 12 and younger, teen age 13-17, and adult ages 18 and older. Gilchrist selected several Director’s Picks from each category, and from those, he and Hazzard selected first-, second- and third-place award winners. There was no monetary prize for the awards, just a “show of solidarity with artists around the world.”

“There was so much good work that was shared in this exhibit. I was really happy to see the quality,” he said. “Part of what I really enjoyed about it was the opportunity to see artwork from across the world.”

Gilchrist said that putting together the online exhibit took more work than they had anticipated and more time for staff to work from home editing, cropping, cataloguing the entries and changing the file sizes to be able to post, but they were happy to provide a platform for the artists to share their work.

Many of the participating artists said they were excited to have the opportunity to showcase their work.

“In this time of crisis and isolation, the role of art becomes more central to our lives,” Parnika Mittal, a New Delhi, India, artist who submitted work for the show, stated in a press release from Anton Art Center. “During these dark and gloomy times, I create art with sparks of hope on the horizon. Believing that creativity keeps people connected during a pandemic that keeps us apart.”

Karlee Szczesniak, a 16-year-old from Clinton, said she found out about the show on Instagram.

“Last year, I fell in love with the atmosphere of the Anton Art Center and the people who work there,” she said in the press release.

And Mark Bleshenski, of Bay City, said that he was happy the center was giving artists an opportunity to have a show during the shutdown.

“It is great to have a place to show my work right now. Thank you,” he said in the release.

View the Online Juried Art Show from the Anton Art Center at www.theartcenter.org/exhibits.

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