Michigan Photographers Alert!

Michael Bell has shown an unusual support and respect for Michigan art and artists. Ellen Wilt, Ann Arbor artist who has twice won the grand prize at the Michigan Watercolor show and Professor Emeritus of art at Eastern Michigan University, once told me that she thinks there’s more originality in Michigan art than in any other state, including New York and California. I like it when Michigan art centers and museums make an effort to balance their exhibits between out-of-state artists and those closer to home.

So no excuses! This is an exciting opportunity you can’t afford to miss. I may even try it myself, although my photography is mostly for personal or research reasons. I based a painting on this one, taken on the 2004 Kawkawlin River Clean-up, an annual event where, lacking boat or muscle, I function as official photographer. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Deadline for submissions is June 1, 2006. There’s just one problem with this show: I couldn’t find the announcement on the Saginaw Art Museum website. There aren’t many rules, though. This is basically it:

Saginaw Art Museum – Michigan Invitational

July 9 – September 10, 2006

Open to all Michigan photographers, no age or other limit.

Work must be original in editions of less than 200,but need not be recent.

No entry fee or awards. Artist is responsible for 2-way shipping.

Selected work must be framed and ready to install.

Photographs must be labeled with name/title/year/medium.

Exhibition will be curated in-house, not juried.

Sales inquiries will be referred to the artist; museum asks no commission.

Museum insures all selected work at artist’s wholesale price while on premises.

Entry Procedure

Send resume, artist statement, SASE & up to four images (any format) to:

Michael S.Bell, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions

Saginaw Art Museum
1126 N. Michigan Ave.
Saginaw, MI 48602

989.754.2491 x204

989.754.9387 FAX

or email:


Deadline for submission: JUNE 1, 2006

Kawkawlin River Clean-Up

I don’t do much but function as the photographer, artist, and general recorder of things, occasionally fishing out a beer bottle, plastic trash bag, or even rooting out a tire or two from the cattails. As last year, I was a passenger in Tom (known as Toad) Starkweather’s dingy, The Toadtanic, featuring a 2 horsepower motor that threw up at the slightest contact with the pervasive weeds.

This year I tried something new: a new friend who buys for the Saugatuck Historical Museum in Saugatuck, Michigan, Judy A., gave me a lovely Arches 6″ x 10″ sketch pad called a Carnet de Voyage Travel Book. It’s 15, 140-lb. pages easily take watercolor sketches on both sides. Judy suggested I use an extra-fine sharpie to draw, which amazingly does not run, even when painted on top of.

I find I prefer to paint first and draw around the color shapes and then write on top of that, but on the river everything went by so fast that I drew first and painted afterwards. So far I’ve only painted two: one of the river and one of our friend Bill, who joined us for the first half-hour. Please note that I did these in a rocking boat! Those two big men plus me in the boat made quite a load, but there were places so shallow that I got out and pulled those two guys myself!

Click on a picture to enlarge it.