MARQUETTE - Regional artists will be featured this summer at the DeVos Art Museum in the seventh annual North of the 45th Parallel exhibition.
"It's part of our program schedule that highlights local and regional artists, the other being the UP Focus exhibition," said Melissa Matuscak, gallery director and curator. "The 45th parallel is how we define the eligibility for the region, so artists living north of this geographical marker from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota are eligible to submit work for jury.
"Being from the Detroit and Flint area, I always felt like seeing the green 45th parallel sign on I-75 meant I was finally getting "up north," she said. "I also feel like artists in the northern L.P. and U.P. probably identify more with northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, but at the same time there are vastly different approaches to art making in the region.
The DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University, shown above during last year’s event, is hosting its annual North of the 45th Exhibit starting June 6. Below: “Early Copper Miner,” an oil on canvas, one of the works of Kevin Breyfogle of Hancock, is part of the exhibit. (Courtesy photos)
"My hope was to pull together a show each summer that allows artists from the region to share the gallery space and see what happens - and it's always been a pleasant surprise."
The show opens with a free public reception June 6 that is the gallery's biggest night of the summer.
"Juror Kevin Buist will be here to give a talk about his artwork and about his experiences working with ArtPrize at 6 p.m.," Matuscak said. "Starting at 7 p.m. there will be live music from local musicians Sunset Machine as well as free food and beverages."
The evening will include some surprises as well.
"The talented local artist Emily Lanctot was one of the artists selected for the exhibition and she will be doing a performance during the reception. I can't give too much away about what she'll be doing, but she's been in the show a few times before and her performances always involve the audience," Matuscak said. "She previously gave free haircuts during the reception and another time she held a 'free sale' where she gave away items to visitors each week. I can guarantee it will be a good time - and as always it's free and open to the public."
Buist's talk at the reception will be of interest to those who wonder about how the artists for the exhibition were chosen.
"Each year I try to find a juror who is from the Midwest but does not live in the same area where the artists are from. My hope is that this approach allows the show to be more about the aesthetic and conceptual qualities of the work and less about politics and who knows who," Matuscak said. "We've had jurors from Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago and this year's juror, Kevin Buist, is from Grand Rapids. He's an artist as well as the Exhibitions Director for ArtPrize, which has become a global phenomenon with hundreds of thousands of dollars given away via public vote and juried selections.
"I thought Kevin would make a great juror as he's heavily involved in one of the biggest juried exhibitions in the country."
Matuscak said entries for North of the 45th were due last March and the response was strong.
"We had 244 artists submit over 1,500 images - our largest number of submissions yet," she said. "I never envy the juror - it's a huge task to jury this show."
And how to jury the show is not set in stone.
"All of the jurors approach North of the 45th differently - some have selected 65-70 artists and each artist has one or two pieces in the exhibition. Kevin had a similar approach to that of the show's first juror, John Corbett, where he selected less artists but each artist has more work represented," Matuscak said. "This year there are 23 artists from as near as Marquette to as far as Richfield, Minnesota. Thirteen artists are from Minnesota, nine from Michigan and one from Wisconsin.
"When jurying, Kevin had a very specific idea of how he saw the show coming together and I think visitors will see a few threads running through the show. There is media of every kind imaginable - sculpture, fiber, photography, painting and performance to name a few."
For more information on the museum and the exhibit, visit www.nmu.edu/devosartmuseum. The exhibit continues through Aug. 3.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 240. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.