Huntington Woods artist wins Mackinac Island juried contest

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published July 22, 2015

 Wise won first place in the “Peaceful Mackinac,” art show. The award included a $2,500 prize.

Wise won first place in the “Peaceful Mackinac,” art show. The award included a $2,500 prize.

Photo provided by Marjorie Marks


HUNTINGTON WOODS — In Good Hart, Michigan, Huntington Woods resident Patrick Wise would go on hikes during the summer with his wife around a nature preserve. As an artist, Wise said he could really enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

So he decided to paint it.

After a couple of weekend trips to the area, Wise was able to complete his piece that depicts a tree in the center with other foliage surrounding it in the background. And 30 miles up the road, Wise’s piece took first place in a competition on Mackinac Island.

Wise, originally from Petoskey, was announced in June as the winner of the 2015 Contemporary Art Contest at the Richard & Jane Manoogian Mackinac Island Art Museum. As the winner of the “Peaceful Mackinac” show, Wise’s piece will be displayed through Oct. 11, and he also took home a $2,500 prize.

“I was overwhelmed, honored and totally surprised, and kind of inspired to go paint more,” Wise, 54, said. “It is one of those things that tells you to keep going, keep doing what you are doing. Painting is a little bit of a lonely business, so it is nice to have encouragement like this.”

Wise said just like other artists, painting was something he picked up at a young age. He went on to study painting and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wayne State University after a short stop at the College for Creative Studies.

It wasn’t one certain thing that got Wise interested in painting, he said; rather, it was just something that felt right.

“I started out with drawing, pen and paper, and it was one of those things where it was almost a natural gravitation toward it and I think painting and drawing go hand in hand,” he said. “I think I enjoy the physicalness of it, too, where you can kind of enjoy that oily movement of the paint and there is just something attractive about that, pushing it around and putting those different colors together. Seeing the outcome of what you can push together, the experimentation I still enjoy today.”

After college, Wise started to teach — a profession that took him from his alma mater Wayne State to several community colleges in the area as well as the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum and the Paint Creek Center for the Arts in Rochester. He has also had the opportunity to work with kids at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan to “give them something to do besides TV.”

While teaching can’t replace the actual act of painting, Wise said being in the classroom and helping younger artists has been just as rewarding.

“It is a balance, because partly we need to make a buck, but I think the bigger part is there is an enjoyment of that interaction working with artists and trying to communicate something to them,” he said. “There is something I get from that apparently, especially working with other people who are truly interested. You have conversations and develop a relationship between one another as long as everyone is fully engaged.”

After hearing about the “Peaceful Mackinac” show on Mackinac Island, Wise said, he felt his painting from Good Hart would fit the criteria perfectly, as they were looking for peaceful surroundings of Mackinac.

The show had more than 25 entrants and Detroit-area artist Mary Fortuna was named the juror for the show. Fortuna, who mostly works in sculptures but dabbles in all mediums, said she was pleasantly surprised by the variety of work from both new and veteran artists.

But what made Wise’s painting stick out was something she described as fresh.

“Some work is very studied and very carefully done and very precise, and not that his wasn’t highly representational, but it was very immediate, not overdone — just very fresh,” she said. “He had very vivid, rich colors and it was not overworked.”

It was Fortuna who named Wise the winner, but as his own critic, Wise said he knew when he finished his painting out in Good Hart that it was a quality piece.

“You kind of know when you are done with something if it has that special thing because it takes on a life of its own,” he said. “It is kind of like making music in a way, where you are just kind of part of it. I instinctively know that something is taking on its own kind of power, and if I am taken with it myself, I believe in it and I want to promote it.”