MH announces exhibit for photo contest, T-shirt line

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published June 6, 2018

MADISON HEIGHTS — More than 100 submissions were received in the citywide photo contest presented by the Madison Heights Arts and Culture Committee. And all of them will be displayed in an upcoming exhibit where the winning entries will also be announced. 

In addition, the committee is rolling out a line of shirts showing city pride, which will be first available for purchase at the exhibit. The proceeds will benefit arts programming in Madison Heights.

The photo exhibit is slated for 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, June 14, at City Hall, located at 300 W. 13 Mile Road, near the corner of John R Road. 

“We were really excited by the response,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mark Bliss about the contest. “Our posts on social media were shared hundreds of times. So much enthusiasm! It was great to see all the folks that were tagged by friends and family, and we loved seeing the diverse ages of the submissions. 

“In the end, we were happy with the number of submissions that totaled nearly three times the number the city received from the last photo contest, for the website last spring.” 

There will also be a second exhibit in the Jaycee building during the Pre-4th of July Festival in the Park, set for 6-9 p.m. Sunday, June 24. 

The City Hall event, on June 14, will display the photos throughout City Hall. There will also be light refreshments and musical entertainment.

A panel of five professional photographers chose 18 winning entries across six categories, with three winners in each category. The winning entries will also be featured in a city calendar that will be sold at a later date at City Hall and at the Festival in the Park. Preorders are now being accepted. 

As for the shirts, they feature a design conceived by arts committee member Kirstin Bianchi, who was inspired by the design on the manhole covers seen around the city.

“I thought that selling T-shirts would be a great opportunity to raise funds for our board projects. As a professional costume designer, this project was right up my alley,” Bianchi said. “With a manhole cover with the city crest sitting in my front lawn, I had the perfect canvas to create a prototype T-shirt.

“With crayon and butcher paper, I made a rubbing of the manhole cover and then traced the design onto a screen,” she explained. “Once my screen was ready, I used fabric paint to transfer the design to a T-shirt. I actually made two screens and sample T-shirts, each displaying a different format for the design. The other board members were just as excited as I was, so we moved to go ahead with printing one of my designs.”  

The shirts cost $20 apiece and are made from a blend of materials, in sizes from XS to 3XL. There are four colors available: graphite heather, heather red, heather Galapagos blue and heather green. Bliss noted that the shirts have already been “incredibly well-received.” 

The shirts, photo contest and calendar are just a few of the items currently being worked on by the members of the Arts and Culture Committee. But there will be more on the way. 

“The board has a pretty lengthy list of suggested ideas that includes things like murals, painting park benches and trash cans, concerts, art fairs, and even live theater,” Bliss said. “Lots to look out for with this board!” 

Mayor Brian Hartwell said he sees a great deal of potential in the committee — not only what it can do for the arts in Madison Heights, but also in promoting the different cultures within the city.

“We have an opportunity to tap a new generation of artists and cultural diversity unseen anywhere else in Michigan. I have already heard from local cultural groups like the Association of Chinese Americans, Vietnamese American Association of Michigan and the American Islamic Community Center, who would love to collaborate with the city’s large public events,” Hartwell said. “These diverse communities will nicely complement our traditional core of immigrants from Germany, Poland, Iraq and Canada.

“I have spoken to many residents who feel like the city could do more when it comes to safe family entertainment,” the mayor added. “The city’s 20-year plan to redevelop a downtown and the creation of the new arts board will rightfully put Madison Heights on the map for potential new residents, and will satisfy current residents’ demand for cultural and artistic expression.”