Best Foot exhibit opens

Besser Museum’s annual juried art exhibition has long been a fixture on the fall schedule. Not only does it serve as a fundraiser in support of the museum’s fine art exhibits and programs, but it also showcases the best work by artists throughout Northeast Michigan.

In the past, just having works accepted into the competition was considered an accomplishment so when museum officials announced a new twist to what has been an annual favorite for the past 30 years, it came as a surprise.

“Artists were challenged, first by the change, then by the guidelines for the 2017 Best Foot Non-Juried Art Exhibit,” said Executive Director Christine Witulski.

So what was the twist? All art entries, either two-dimensional or three-dimensional, could not exceed a 1x1x1-foot maximum size requirement. They also would not be subjected to judging by a professional juror, meaning as long as the pieces fit the size requirement they would be accepted into the exhibit.

“Artists are always encouraged to go big,” Witulski said. “But now, the Besser Museum was challenging them to think outside the box and create something small enough to fit into a one-foot cube.”

She said initially the staff was uncertain how artists would respond to the new format, but that they ended being pleasantly surprised by the response. Additionally, Witulski said she was pleased that several entries came from first time participants.

Danyeal Dorr spent part of this week hanging the small works of art in Wilson Gallery. Though the pieces were more diminutive in size than in years past, she was impressed with the 82 pieces submitted from a total of 50 artists.

“The variety of mediums used – that’s probably my favorite part of the exhibit,” Dorr said. “We have everything from acrylic to collage to paper quilling.”

As an artist herself, she knows it was challenging for artists to stay within the smaller confines of the 1x1x1-foot size requirement, especially when some chose to also frame their work, but she believes the end result makes for an interesting exhibit. Like Witulski, she also likes the fact that some new artists opted to participate.

“We received works from several new artists we have never seen before,” Dorr said. “When it’s not a juried exhibit, there’s less fear of rejection. With juried competitions, there’s always that fear that you pay the entry fee to submit works and then you are rejected.”

Always before the museum invited a professional artist to serve as the juror and determine the award winners. This time around, it’s strictly up to the public.

Museum visitors can vote for their favorite pieces for $1 a vote. They can vote as many times as they like during the next couple of weeks (Oct. 6-20), with the top five People’s Choice Awards winners announced during a public reception set for Oct. 21 from 3-5. The five winners each will receive a $100 cash prize.