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Are You Michigan's Next Great Artist?

The MIGreatArtist competition opens Friday to residents of Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, Genessee, Lapeer and St. Clair counties.

A new arts competition launching Friday aims to showcase the works of great artists in a six-county southeast Michigan region. 

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Park West Gallery CEO Albert Scaglione announced the MIGreatArtist competition during a press conference held Wednesday at the Southfield gallery. Scaglione said any artist who is serious about his or her work should consider entering.

"This is for you," he said. "You don't need to have any prior history of exhibiting. This is how talent gets discovered ... We encourage you to submit your work, we really need your participation." 

Artists 18 and older, who live, work or go to school in Economic Growth Alliance (EGA) counties – Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, Genesee, Lapeer and St. Clair – may submit up to five original, two-dimensional works through the MIGreatArtist website. (Photography and digital art are excluded from competition.)

Entries will be accepted through July 20. From July 25 to Aug. 17, art lovers across Michigan, and even across the country, will have a chance to vote once a day on the entries, Patterson said. From the top 20 public favorites, a five-member panel of judges will select five semi-finalists, and the winner will be determined by a combination of jury score and public vote. 

The top prize is $1,000 and framing by Park West Gallery for the artist's five submitted works. The winner's works will be exhibited at Park West, Lawrence Technological University and McLaren Hospital in Pontiac, and featured on a poster to promote an Oakland County event.

There's a business connection for the winner, who will receive a scholarship to attend entrepreneurial training offered by the Oakland County Business Center. Patterson also noted that the county has a reputation for "good quality of life", which attracts economic investment.

"When I travel ... trying to attract business to this region, inevitability, one of the top two or three questions will be 'tell us about the arts'," Patterson said. "Clearly, art and places like this gallery gives us some ability to attract investors. It completes the mosaic people evaluate whether this is a good place to live and work."

Scaglione said the competition provides an alternative for supporting art. "We need that," he said, "and we've done that." 

He said Park West's current location was dedicated in 1980 as an "art space" and during the early days, "we would open up the gallery ... We really ran the gallery with local artists, amateur talent, all summer long. This kind of brings me back to that. It's something I'm genuinely looking forward to." 

There's no cost to enter art works; artists simply have to create an account on the migreatartist.com website and fill out the entry form. The top 20 artists will be announced Aug. 18, and the five semi-finalists will be named Aug. 24.

The winner will be announced during a Sept. 14 awards ceremony at Park West Gallery. 

Competition judges are Scaglione; Elliott W. Broom, vice president of museum operations for Detroit Institute of Arts; Dominic Pangborn, founder of Pangborn Design Collection; Kristie Everett Zamora, coordinator of arts, culture and film for Oakland County; and artist Don Tocco, whose works include award-winning photography, paintings sold to high end collectors and portrait sculptures of global leaders. 

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