For Linda LaFontsee, co-owner of LaFontsee Galleries, the value in art worth collecting distills down to a very personal moment.
“When you first look at a piece of art, your gut reaction is something you should hold onto, because it’s not going to go away.”
Sparking that personal connection is critical to the success of local artists, as well as the vibrancy of an entire community. But artists cannot achieve success without the support of other key players.
Now in its ninth year, ArtPrize continues to grow in both size and scope, drawing more than 500,000 visitors to downtown Grand Rapids. And with hundreds of artists showcasing their work in dozens of venues throughout the city, it certainly feels larger than life during its 19-day run.
Vanessa Autumn is a creator, curator and wrangler of the beauty of nature. Take a look at her website, vanessaautumn.com, and you’ll find paintings, collage work, photography, word art and more — all featuring raw emotion and the power of the nature that surrounds us. We asked the self-taught artist about her approach to creation.
Lake Michigan is more than just a body of water for Catherine Hoffman — it’s an inspiration. Growing up home-schooled in Holland, the natural world had a big impact on Hoffman, who later went on to study illustration at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids. Now back on the lake shore, she creates art that’s meant to evoke a feeling above all else, and wants to write and illustrate her own children’s books.
As an artist, writer and musician to boot, Ryan Hay is hitting the art scene in Grand Rapids in just about every way. With his unique and abstract artistic pieces, Hay is not only making a name for himself, but also helping other up-and-coming artists collaborate and create with one another through the Collective Artspace, which he helped co-found in 2012.
When Katie Maycroft found a Minolta Maxxum 7000i in grandma’s closet — it belonged to grandpa — a personal hobby began to turn into something more. The nearly 30-year-old camera has become a close friend to Maycroft, shifting the way the Lowell native sees photography and the world itself. Now Maycroft captures any “shapes, color, patterns and lighting” worth sharing with the world.
Sitting in a political science class at Northern Michigan University, Esan Sommersell found himself daydreaming.The only member of his family born in America — his family hails from Guyana — Sommersell went to NMU after high school to pursue pre-law at the prodding of his parents. But the Grand Rapids native and Ottawa Hills High School graduate felt out of place and disengaged. His professor, an eccentric guy who had traveled the world and marched with Martin Luther King Jr., noticed and encouraged him to pursue his real passion: making art.
The photography of recent Kendall College of Art and Design graduate Jeen Na intends to act as a study of the phases of living — all of the situations and circumstances people encounter and how they choose to process them. Ahead of his body of work, As Much Heaven As Earth, being featured at the Grand Rapids Art Museum during ArtPrize Nine, Na chatted with Revue about the themes and art that inspire him, and where he hopes to take his burgeoning career.
Like so many artists, Jovannah Nicholson fell in love with art and working with her hands at a very young age. Now she sculpts and creates ceramics, but as a kid it was all about coloring and drawing with her markers before school, which could get kind of messy. One of her mom’s favorite stories to tell is how Jovannah’s teachers in elementary school thought she wasn’t getting bathed enough because she would come in with marker all over her hands. “Putting the caps on the markers could be quite difficult,” she said, laughing.
Growing up on a farm in rural Illinois, William Campbell was drawn to building, creating, fixing and imagining from a very young age. It’s no surprise that he constructed something intriguing in Anvil Goods — a furniture design and building company run by Campbell and his wife, Meg. The shop specializes in home furniture goods, such as tables, benches, desks and shelving, as well as some commercial builds for the interiors of local businesses, including the cash wrap counter and maple shelves for the Wealthy Street leather goods store Mercy Supply. Campbell’s idea of success is to continue to provide heirloom quality pieces for customers to love for years, and to make enough profit for road trips to the UP and southwest.
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