Last year’s The Art Thing reception took place at Mezzo Coffee House. Due to growth of the event, this year’s reception is taking place at the Otsego District Library, where the artwork will be displayed. (Photos provided)
By Jason Wesseldyk
Grand Rapids may have Art Prize, but Otsego has The Art Thing.
An annual event that allows local artists to showcase their work, this year’s The Art Thing begins with a ticketed reception at the Otsego District Library at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29. Tickets will be available at the door.
Public voting begins at the reception and will continue during normal library hours though noon on Saturday, Oct. 7.
The prize reception will begin at the library immediately following the close of voting, with the announcement of results slated for approximately 1 p.m.
Paulette Carr, co-owner of Brave Art Studios and Gallery in Allegan and a member of Otsego Arts, serves as organizer of The Art Thing. She believes the event is beneficial for both artists and community members.
“The Art Thing enables the artist to get their art out of their studios and into the public eye,” she said. “But on a deeper level, a community with art is a healthy community. It expresses the tone for the community and a permanence of what we preserve and see in art.
“A community with art and artists is vibrant, glowing and growing. It draws businesses and visitors in to view the art and stay for the warmth of the community. The preservation of your community in art says your community itself is worth preserving. Artists, while they benefit from this through critical review and public appreciation, really are doing a wonderful service for the community in bringing them together.”
This year’s competition features a total of 29 artists. Twenty-seven of those are in the Adult Division (18 years old and older) division, while two are in the Junior Division (ages 9-17).
Featured mediums include pencil drawings, oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel, torn paper paintings, fused glass, clay and more.
Members of the public can vote once in each of the divisions.
One first-place People’s Choice Award winner will receive $1,000, with a $300 prize for second place and a $200 prize for third place.
Sponsors of the prize money include the following local businesses: The Bellflower; Brave Art Studios & Gallery; Native Connections; Real Wood Floors; SKP Designs; and Steensma Lawn & Power Equipment.
“The Art Thing is a competition for artists, but really it is designed to bring fine art to the community,” Carr said.
The Art Thing has been held in conjunction with the Otsego Creative Arts Festival the past few years, with winners announced during the festival. This year, though, the winners will be announced a week after the Creative Arts Festival.
Also, the art was previously displayed in the storefronts of downtown businesses, with Mezzo Coffee Shop serving as the primary hub.
The reason for the change, according to Carr, is simple: growth.
“The Art Thing has been a growing and changing event,” she said. “We are so grateful for the support of Mezzo during our growing-pain years and to the Creative Arts Festival for helping us get started. But growth of the arts in Otsego has pushed us in another direction to allow us to include more art and artists.”
Otsego Art is a division of Together Otsego Prospers (TOP). For more information about The Art Thing, visit https://www.togetherotsegoprospers.org/otsego-arts https://www.togetherotsegoprospers.org/otsego-arts.