Call goes out for submissions of art

Art in the Loft is putting out a call for artist submissions in its second annual juried art competition. The submissions are being accepted now through Sept. 3 and should reflect the chosen theme, Forgotten Spaces.

“Last year’s theme was Black and White – pretty straight forward,” said Justin Christensen-Cooper, executive director of the Loft. “This is more wide open, so the artist really can use artistic license.”

He said the theme encompasses more than just desolute places. It can also be a forgotten moment in time or a quiet place in nature or an abandoned object.

“Our main focus is for people to really take the theme, interpret it anyway they imagine and run with it,” said Brooke Stevens, education coordinator at the Loft. “We like to stick with a theme but we want to give artists creative freedom. There is no wrong answer here.”

Once the show is juried, an exhibition of selected pieces will be held Oct. 5-Nov. 9 in the gallery. Awards will be given for Best of Show ($300 and a full year of exhibition space), Second Place ($200), Third Place ($100) and People’s Choice ($50 gift certificate).

Betty Bea Washburn of Bellaire, a professional watercolorist for the last 30 years, will serve as juror. Before settling in northern lower Michigan, she was a public school art teacher in the Marshall Public School system. Today she finds inspiration for her large, vibrant watercolors in area landscapes, gardens and historical sites, especially those on Mackinac Island.

Washburn holds a Master of Arts in Education from Western Michigan University and a Bachelor of Arts in Education from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. She has won numerous awards throughout the years, including the 2008 Mackinac Island Lilac Festival Poster Competition Award winner.

This year’s competition follows on the heels of the inaugural one instituted in 2016 in recognition of the Loft’s 15th anniversary. While Christensen-Cooper and Stevens were hoping for at least 50 submissions last year, they were pleased to receive over 100 pieces of art. From that amount, 65 were selected for the exhibition.

“We hope that the word has gotten out that we are doing these juried shows and that even more artists will participate,” Christensen-Cooper said.

The competition is open to all residents of Michigan, 18 years or older, and to artists working in all media except film, including oil, acrylic, watercolor, photography, pastel, drawing, print, mixed media, sculpture, assemblage, installation and fabric. All artwork must be original in concept, design and execution, and created within the last three years.

There is a $35 submission fee for up to three entries. Submissions are to be done online at All judging will be done online.

Stevens said if anyone needs help with the submission process or taking photos of their artwork to upload, the staff at the Loft can help.

“We don’t want that to hinder anyone,” said Christensen-Cooper. “A lot of people took us up on that last year.

They said that while Best of Show, Second and Third Place Awards are determined by jurors, the People’s Choice is determined by which piece receives the most votes from the public. Each visitor to the exhibition pays $1 per vote and can vote as many times as they wish.

“We had a ton of people vote for the People’s Choice Award last year,” Stevens said. “People really wanted a voice in what they liked.”

The gallery features more than 7,000 square feet of open loft space where fine art by local, regional and national artists are shown. Last year’s Black and White-themed competition transformed the space.

“We were amazed by what a theme could do in the space,” Christensen-Cooper said.

For more information about Forgotten Spaces, contact the Loft at 356-4877.