Art Walk Central attracts outside attention

Winners for a familiar Mount Pleasant art contest have been announced, and a Central Michigan University graduate was among them.

Artists from all over Michigan and neighboring states submitted their work to compete for various prizes in Art Walk Central, showcased last month throughout the city at 28 venues, including at parks and the town center.

"Art Walk Central is an event put together inspired by Art Prize in Grand Rapids," Kathy Hill, Art Reach Center executive director said. "Being an arts organization, this gives us an opportunity to serve the artistic community by giving them a venue to display their work."

Prize money was awarded to the top three winners in four categories: the Adult Judges award, the Adult People's Choice award, the Youth Judges award and the Youth People's Choice award.

The different venues allowed people to walk around Mount Pleasant and vote for their favorite pieces online. According to Hill, about 2,000 votes were cast for the People's Choice Award.

Each artist is allowed one submission, but some entries consisted of several pieces. Two judges went around to the venues to judge the artwork presented for the judge's awards, while more than 2,000 votes were cast online for the people's choice awards.

Central Michigan University graduate Brett Sauve took home the $5,000-prize after winning the Adult Judge's Award.

"Everybody's artwork is really good for its own reason," the Midland native said. "My artwork is just a way of expressing my emotions and getting something out."

Sauve liked the idea of winning an art prize in the town that molded him. After graduating last May with a bachelor's degree in applied arts, Sauve submitted three ceramic heads into the contest.

Originally, the heads were created for an advanced ceramics class he took in his last semester of college. With each head taking around a week to create, the recent graduate doesn't mind spending time in the studio.

"It's raw emotion and things that were happening in my life," Sauve said. "It was a way of expressing the feelings that I felt while those events were occurring."

Second place in the Adult Judge category went to Amanda Cruickshank, a Lake Linden resident who graduated from Alma College two years ago.

"When I graduated college, I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a fine artist anymore or what my calling was or my identity as an artist," Cruickshank said. "When I started to pursue Art Walk, a couple of things happened. I became more comfortable with the idea that I'm a semi-successful fine artisan and that I also could be a graphic designer at the same time."

The Alma graduate collected the $3,000-prize after entering a digital photograph into the contest. She drew the photo on a computer using a tablet she hooked up to her computer.

Cruickshank said she has created some illustrations for a children's book along the same lines as the photo she created for Art Walk Central.

"I was a first-generation college student. You don't get a lot of first-generation students in any kind of art program, art, music, theater any of them. They tend to choose more practical roles," Cruickshank said. "I really was pleased to be part of Art Walk Central, and it means a great deal to me because of all the struggles I've had to go through as a first-generation student."

Hill said the competition has a significant economic impact on the city.

"It serves as an economic driver," Hill said. "At our event last year in 2012, we estimated that with the number of people that voted and the number of people that came to Mount Pleasant, it has had about a $1-million economic impact on Mount Pleasant"


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