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Drench yourself in Art in the Loft’s ‘H2O’ exhibit

News Photos by Darby Hinkley Above is a painting by Lori Acre of a dog snoozing on the beach, titled “Lulled to Sleep.”

ALPENA — You won’t need a life jacket to experience this juried art exhibit, but you will be surrounded by water. And you will need a mask.

Art in the Loft’s fifth annual juried art exhibit, “H2O,” features 89 pieces from 47 artists, all with the theme of water. From sunsets over Lake Huron to blue hues resembling the ocean, every aspect of the thirst-quenching theme is covered in almost every medium in this art show.

“H2O” opens at 6 p.m. Thursday with an outdoor reception and awards ceremony behind Art in the Loft in the pocket park beside the Community Mural on the side of the Local Basket Case. The reception is being held outdoors this year, so dress warmly and wear your mask so you can enter the gallery after the awards to view the artwork. The gallery will be open until 8 p.m. on Thursday.

“Honestly, this is probably our largest reception we do, besides young artists,” Art in the Loft Executive Director Justin Christensen-Cooper said. “Because it is a little bit more competitive to get in (to be featured in the show), people do bring a lot of guests.”

He explained that this year will be different because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Above is Marilyn Bachelor’s “Weathering the Sunrise.”

“Unfortunately, we just can’t do that this way,” he said. “So we are at limited capacity. We can go at about 25% right now, which is roughly 50 people (inside, at a time) … So people might have to come in waves from 6 to 8.”

Christensen-Cooper said about 75% of the artists in this show are from Northeast Michigan, “which is great, because that’s what we really want to feature up in the gallery.” Other artists are from downstate and all over the country, including Hawaii. Submissions were held online again this year, as they have been for previous juried art exhibits as well.

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Jeff Gray was this year’s juror. He selected the 89 pieces from the more than 120 submissions.

“It was cool to pick Jeff, because we wanted, this year, to choose someone that was not necessarily a professional in the arts, but a professional in the theme,” Christensen-Cooper noted. “We couldn’t think of anybody better than Jeff Gray, and I think he was great. I think he was excitedly reluctant, because he just didn’t know what it was entailing.”

He explained that the artwork was judged on a variety of factors, and Gray was excited to be a part of the process.

Here is “The Sound of Water,” by Sharon Wade.

“To see how people took the theme and really embraced the theme is really neat,” said Christensen-Cooper. “We have sculptures, photography, painting, three-dimensional pieces.”

The first juried art exhibit was held in 2016, and has since become an annual tradition with a new theme each year.

“This started back in 2016 as sort of one-time, one-month show to celebrate our 15th anniversary,” Christensen-Cooper said. “And it was so popular that we decided to do it again, and now it’s an annual thing.”

Some themes have been “LIGHT,” “Black & White,” “Red,” and now, “H2O.”

“So, next year, I think folks can look forward to another color,” he added.

Art in the Loft Gallery Manager Ric Jasso starts hanging one of the works of art on the wall in preparation for Thursday’s opening of “H2O.” The photo on metal is titled “Amarillo Ice,” by Sean McLain.

Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

“H2O” will be on display in the gallery until Nov. 14, and available for online viewing through the end of the year at artintheloft.org. All the artwork in the show is for sale.

Artists featured in “H2O” include: Lori Acre, Marilyn Bachelor, Michael Bauman, Kathleen Bower, Rose Buck, Eugene Cambre, Nazareth Cuevas-Diaz, Danyeal Dorr, Linda Drean, Stephanie Gandulla, Marie Gilmet-Dully, Rachel Goodstein, Judith Hart, Jane Hightower, Rich Houchin, Pam Idema, Steve Jakubcin, Griffin James, Karen Jonker, Kingsli Kraft, Genevieve LaFleur, Cheryl Lemke, Mary Lightner, Peggy Little, Kamara Marsh, Sean McLain, Kati Meek, Lane Blair Olsen, Steve Petrides, Carol Preuss, Brad Przeslawski, Regina Quinn, Hope Reed, Charles Schroeder, Judy Seabase, Rosemary Sheffer, Emily Skiba, Robert Smith, Melissa Smith, Leanna Springer, Jean Stewart, Don Stewart, Jill Tatroe, Sharon Wade, Janet Wallace, Thane Whitscell, and Beverly Wolf.

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