Sterling Heights Arts Commission members Wendy Popko and Gary Lusk present Ann Marie Curley, center, with a Featured Artist award.

Sterling Heights Arts Commission members Wendy Popko and Gary Lusk present Ann Marie Curley, center, with a Featured Artist award.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Artist’s attention to detail catches Sterling program’s eye

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 8, 2019

 Ann Marie Curley’s artwork is displayed at Sterling Heights City Hall.

Ann Marie Curley’s artwork is displayed at Sterling Heights City Hall.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Whether it was visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts as a 5-year-old or drawing nature scenes growing up, Ann Marie Curley was always thrilled about art and putting something on the page.

“It was so exciting,” she said. “We would get our box of Crayola 48 or Crayola 64 crayons. I love the color. I can remember the colors even though I haven’t had a Crayola 64 in a long time. Somehow, that really kind of grabbed me.”

On Feb. 6, Curley received the honor of becoming Sterling Heights’ Featured Artist for February and March. Her work is currently up for display in the basement of City Hall and at the Sterling Heights Public Library until the end of March. Featured artists may come from inside or outside the community.

Curley, 62, from Beverly Hills, said she was excited to be chosen.

“I’ve never been a featured artist before,” she said. “The thing that really stood out for me is I’ve had artwork in other galleries, but the thing about this is they give you all that wall, and you can hang a bunch of your stuff at once. That’s a big deal.”

Curley said she had no formal art training growing up, and she went on to work in the information technology field as a manager. But she returned to art once she retired.

While Curley has worked in various mediums, such as pastels and pencil, she also has been a painter for around six years, working in acrylics, oil and watercolor. She said her first art medium in her post-retirement artistry was a form of batik, or using wax and dye on cloth. 

She still likes doing batik on silk, and after gaining experience in that technique, she is now teaching it to others at The Art Experience in Pontiac, the Birmingham Next senior center, and Common Ground.

The Sterling Heights Featured Artist honor isn’t the only recent award Curley has received. Last June, she was named Best in Show at the Brighton Art Guild’s Michigan Scapes exhibit. She also had work appear in six other juried art exhibits from 2016 to 2018.

Curley said she enjoys capturing the image of whatever is in front of her, whether it’s a nature scene or people being their ordinary, spontaneous selves.

“I have a very strong dislike of posed pictures,” she said. “Even in my photos that I have tacked up on my refrigerator or whatever are only rarely posed shots. … From a technical perspective, you want to see something that’s visually interesting.”

Jeanne Schabath, from the Sterling Heights Arts Commission — which runs the Featured Artist program — called Curley’s pieces sensational and “absolutely stunning.”  

“Her detail is actually so exquisite that you don’t know if they’re photographed or if it’s hand-drawn,” Schabath said. 

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