The gallery was buzzing with excitement as the finalists, their friends and family, and art enthusiasts gathered to celebrate Fujiwara and his fellow finalists. Event focal points included a shared exhibition of artistic works by the finalists, and a solo exhibition from 2017 MI Great Artist winner, Thomas Tunney.
All five finalists were on hand for the announcement, including this year’s People’s Choice Winner Thomas Bos. The People’s Choice was a new feature for this year’s MI Great Artist competition. Bos, a self-taught photographer from White Lake, received the most online votes and received a check for $750 as the inaugural winner of the People’s Choice Award.
The finalists were chosen from a field of 209 artists from Genesee, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Shiawassee and Wayne counties in September in hopes their entries would catch the discerning eye of the public. After 27,000 online votes were cast during the two week voting period, the field was whittled down to 35 artists. A panel of judges selected the five finalists and ultimately chose the winner.
As the main event began, the crowd, which included the finalists’ friends and family, convened around the speaker’s podium to hear remarks from Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Park West CEO and founder Albert Scaglione.
Patterson shared that this is the sixth year for the MI Great Artist competition. He said, “So, why the MI Great Artist contest? When we work to attract companies – job providers – to our region, their questions inevitably turn to quality of life issues – including, ‘Do you support the arts in your area?’ The MI Great Artist competition allows us to answer with a resounding, Yes, we do.”
Albert Scaglione spoke addressed the artists by sharing, “I was taken by the art. This is real art. You’re serious, you mean it, and it’s really good. I really want to compliment you.”
L. Brooks Patterson acknowledged each of the finalists and remarked upon their talents before announcing the winner, Kim Frank Fujiwara of Rochester Hills. He invited Fujiwara up to the podium to receive his award. Fujiwara, a finalist in previous years of the competition, was happy and humble. He thanked the fans who voted, the judges, and his fellow finalists.
Fujiwara’s winnings include a $1,500 cash prize, five submitted artworks framed by Park West Gallery; a group exhibition at Park West Gallery; business counseling and other services from the Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center; his artwork featured on a poster to promote one of Oakland County’s signature quality of life events; a solo exhibition at Park West Gallery; and a two-month solo exhibition at the Oakland County Galleria in the Executive Office Building in Waterford.
You can view Fujiwara’s work, and the work of the 2018 finalists at Park West Gallery through October 30th.
The prize package for the finalists totaled more than $16,000 in cash and prizes. The other finalists were:
Each received a $375 cash prize, framing of five artworks by Park West Gallery, a group exhibition and a suite of business services from the Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center.
For news and updates about the MI Great Artist competition, visit their website and follow them on Facebook.