Michigan Artists Competition less about competition, more about expression

May 27, 2013

Credit Art Center of Battle Creek

The Michigan Artist Competition will be on display at the Art Center of Battle Creek June 2 through June 29, with an opening artists’ reception on Sunday, June 2, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Former Art Center teacher Susie Blyveis says the ability to make art is in all of us.

“Everybody has art in them, maybe they just haven’t brought it out or developed it yet,” she says.

Blyveis has entered two watercolor paintings into the competition, which has the theme “Light and Dark.” One of her images is a landscape with mountains, the other is a grouping of birch trees with dark shadows highlighting the soft white color of the trees’ bark.

The Michigan Artists Competition is a juried event. The call for entries was held earlier this month. There will be prizes awarded, but for Blyveis that was not the reason she wanted to enter.

“I didn’t ask,” she says, “I didn’t even care, I just wanted to have my art in the exhibition. The point is having it hanging up and having the community see it. It’s just really exciting.”

Painter and photographer Elly DeVries agrees that entering the competition is about much more than winning an award, saying it keeps her “on her toes.” DeVries has two photos in the exhibit. One shows a wall of shelves filled with old sewing machines. The other is an underwater shot, showing a sea anemone with purple shadows and yellow highlight. The composition of this shot reveals DeVries’ many years of experience behind the camera lens.

“Composition comes easily after a while. I don’t think about it, I just go and photograph," she says. "You automatically just try to get a balance. There’s a weightier side here, a center of interest there, there are some little flecks of light coming through here, which is marvelous.”

DeVries says she loves the time she spends shooting photographs.

“You can get lost, you can lose your way, you can forget you were supposed to meet you husband an hour ago and you’re still out on a trail somewhere, having so much fun," she says. "I got lost in a zoo once, just photographing. You’re lost in another world, you’re just zoning.”

DeVries has advice for those considering participating in juried art competitions.

“Some people used to try to create like the juror. It doesn’t work, and it should not work," says DeVries."It should be who you are and your best effort. So, I don’t even pay attention to the prize. I am just representing who I am artistically.”

Watercolorist Susie Blyveis agrees that some of the best art exposes the depths of human feeling.

“All of our emotions, it’s all out front, everybody can see what’s inside of you," says Blyveis. "Your spirit and everything is right there for everyone to look at.”