Seven Wyoming and Kentwood artists featured in ArtPrize Eight

Photo courtesy of ArtPrize

By Victoria Mullen



ArtPrize Eight will take place in downtown Grand Rapids from September 21-October 9, 2016 — when everyone is invited to voice their opinions on contemporary art and select the winners of $500,000 in cash prizes.


Seven artists with ties to Wyoming and Kentwood, Michigan have artwork in this year’s ArtPrize Eight. Here is some information about the artists, their work and where to see their entries.


‘Watcher’, by Nicole Burkholder Bluekamp

Nicole Burkholder Bluekamp

Wyoming, Michigan


Nicole is a self taught artist born and raised in Wyoming, Michigan. Painting and drawing always having been a love and main interest since childhood.


Further education was not an option for Nicole, leading to much experimentation and use of available materials for painting.


Being introverted and an empath, Nicole loves to hide out at home with her family.


Her entry, ‘Watcher’, may be seen at Georgio’s Gourmet Pizza, 15 Ionia Ave SW Suite 150 in downtown Grand Rapids.


‘SoulTribe’, by Malia Rae

Malie Rae

Austin, Texas


Malia Rae was born and raised in Wyoming, Michigan and spent her childhood creating memories by exploring nature. she first picked up a camera 20 years ago. She received her BFA in Advertising Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. She spent 10 years post-graduation living in Chicago and about a year ago, moved to Austin, Texas for a new perspective.


Her ArtPrize entry, ‘SoulTribe‘ is the next step of her photographic journey and in many ways the journey of her life. She is inspired to bring the spirit of her everyday self exploration into her images.


“The love of human transformation, the will of spirit, and the growth that takes place when you embark on the journey of finding your truth in life… is the passion that drives me to create,” she said.


jewelry by nona bushman
‘Diversity by Nona’, by Nona Bushman

Nona Bushman

Wyoming, Michigan


Nona (Voss) Bushman is a graduate of Wyoming Park H.S. and Western Michigan University. Her degree is in Art Education with an emphasis in jewelry. She has been making jewelry from silver, gold, copper, brass, precious & semi- precious stones for the past 47 years.


Nona was in Art Education for 34 years with 33 years at East Kentwood H.S. specializing in the 3-dimensional areas of Jewelry, Sculpture and Ceramics. Bushman makes one-of-a-kind custom designed jewelry pieces.


Her entry, ‘Diversity by Nona‘, is a series of pendant neck pieces, bracelets, pins and earrings and may be seen at Homewood Suites by Hilton Grand Rapids Downtown & Jam’n Bean Coffee Company at the Waters Center, 161 Ottawa NW in downtown Grand Rapids.


river and vine
‘River and Vine’, by Mark Minier

Mark Minier

Plymouth, Michigan


Growing up just south of Grand Rapids in Wyoming, Mark Minier went to school at Godwin Heights High School. He is an alumni of Eastern Michigan Universities School of Technology and has been painting oil on canvas since 1998.


“I love the self expression aspect of painting,” Minier said. “The best explanation I can give here is to quote Paul Klee, ‘art does not reproduce the visible, it makes visible.’ When I look at groups of my paintings, I see them autobiographical pages. For many of my paintings I can still recall the song I was listening to during the rendering.”


Minier’s ArtPrize entry, ‘River and Vine‘, may be seen at the city water building by the richard app gallery, 1101 Monroe Ave. NE, Grand Rapids.
the soul's shadows
‘The Soul’s Shadows’, by Mitchell Eilers

Mitchell Eilers

Wyoming, Michigan

Current resident of the Wyoming area, Mitchell Eilers was born and raised in the small town of Shelby, Mich. and has been involved in the arts from a very young age, from sketching to photography. He graduated from Central Michigan University where he completed his Bachelor of Science graduating in May of 2014.


Eilers described his entry, ‘The Soul’s Shadows’ thus: “An entrancing stare and a beautiful face; but who really knows what demons hide behind her beautiful mask.”


His entry may be seen at the bitter end coffeehouse, 752 West Fulton St. in Grand Rapids.


panel from the seasons
Panel from Matthew Piechocki’s ‘The Seasons’

Matthew Piechocki

Grand Rapids, Michigan


“I’ve always found beauty by taking the time to just look around and I love the symbolism of an image that describes or conveys a feeling better than words ever could,” said Matthew Piechocki.


Piechocki was born in Muskegon in 1970 and grew up in Wyoming where he attended school in Grand Rapids. Art has been part of his life from the earliest days of drawing unicorns for classmates to working in the art room in high school, then on to doing private portraits or other paintings as commissioned sales as an adult.


“My influences range from the Great Masters of the Renaissance, Classical and the Baroque and simply can’t get enough of the Art Deco and Art Nouveau Styles,” Piechocki said.


See his entry, ‘The Seasons‘ at Grand Rapids Brewing Company, 1 Ionia Ave. SW, Apt. 1 in Grand Rapids.



Eric J. Hartfield

Grand Rapids, Michigan


Eric J. Hartfield was born in Benton Harbor Michigan in 1962, where the influence of his older brother took hold. With only one art class under his belt in the ninth grade, he drew pencil sketches of racing cars. After leaving Benton Harbor in the tenth grade, he attended East Kentwood High School, where he took a few more art at guff creek


His medium of choice is oil paint, but he has shown promise in oil pastel, color pencil, watercolors, acrylic, chalk (pastels) and a variety of mixed media. Eric is presently known as a Neo-mannerist/Surrealist which he calls ‘Mann realism’. He has developed a mixed-media technique that involves yarn, hair, string and calking placed on canvas and with the use of oils or acrylics, his works tell a story with imagery.


See his entry, ‘Gift at Guff Creek‘ at Grand Rapids City Hall, 300 Monroe Ave NW, Apt 4 in Grand Rapids.

ArtPrize Eight Preview Week: September 14-20
ArtPrize Eight: September 21-October 9
Jurors’ Short List Announcement: September 26
Public Vote Final 20 Announcement: October 2
2016 ArtPrize Awards: October 7


The ArtPrize website and mobile app provide an interactive map feature to help visitors navigate to various Neighborhood HUB locations, including:

  • Center City HUB @ GRAM — located on Monroe Center, in the heart of one of West Michigan’s largest communities, outside of the Grand Rapids Art Museum gift shop as well as inside the museum lobby;
  • Heartside HUB @ UICA — close to many galleries, studios and architecturally significant buildings;
  • Hillside HUB @ Women’s City Club — one of the nation’s oldest and grandest neighborhoods with a collection of preserved 19th and 20th century homes;
  • Rumsey Street HUB @ SiTE:LAB — located at the three-acre public project in partnership with Habitat for Humanity;
  • Monroe North HUB @ DeVos Place — just steps away from many new Venues along the Grand River;
  • Westside HUB @ Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum — placed near Featured Public Projects, Artist Seed Grant and Venue Grant Winners;
  • Meijer Gardens HUB — featuring ArtPrize Artists as well as their permanent sculpture collection that blends art and nature; and
  • ArtPrize HUB/HQ @ 41 Sheldon


The ArtPrize HUB/HQ will open to the public on September 14, at the start of ArtPrize Preview Week — and will remain open throughout the event from 11 am-8 pm Monday through Saturday, and 11 am-6 pm on Sundays.


The ArtPrize Clubhouse will be open from 11 am-7 pm throughout the event, including ArtPrize Preview Week.