Kelly Dorman Wins First Place at Mackinac Art Museum Competition
Six artists were recognized for their work in capturing the history of Grand Hotel at a ceremony Wednesday, June 27, and Kelly Dorman received first prize for her beaded depiction of a white pine tree stump, symbolizing both the foundation of the hotel and the lumber used to build it. Don Munz received second prize, Beth Bynum was awarded third place, and Miranda Green, Karen Gould, and Rosemary Gould received honorable mention from among 15 finalists in this year’s art competition at the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum.
For the accompanying juried art contest, sponsored by Mackinac Arts Council, artists were asked to incorporate the beauty of Mackinac Island with the history or character of Grand Hotel.
“This art exhibit and this museum has always been about displaying and encouraging the creation of Mackinac art,” said Phil Porter, director of Mackinac State Historic Parks, which operates the museum at Marquette Park. “It allows for the creation of new pieces of art every year.”
“Mackinac has always been considered a summer place, from the time that Native Americans camped on its shore, through the 150 years of the fur trade, through the tourism era that began in the 1840s,” said Steve Brisson, deputy director at Mackinac State Historic Parks. “And no physical manifestation better represents the aspect of summer leisure as does Grand Hotel … The hotel has outlasted the railroads and shipping companies that built it.”
The 15 finalists were selected earlier this year from among 80 pieces submitted, and announcement of the six award-winners were reserved for the June 27 reception. All media were accepted, and entries came in the form of photography, painting, collage, and beadwork.
“I particularly love this,” said Amelia Musser, wife of Grand Hotel Chairman R.D. Musser, Jr., standing before the framed photograph, “Sadie Walks Grand Porch,” by Karen Gould. The Mussers’ Scottish Terrier, Sadie, won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club 134th Annual Dog Show, and Mrs. Gould’s photograph of Sadie walking the hotel porch with handler Gabriel Rangel won an honorable mention among the eight awards presented June 27.
Mr. Brisson was in charge of organizing the anniversary exhibit, compiled mostly from pieces in in the Mackinac State Historic Parks collections, he said, and the goal was to present visitors with an overview with the history of the hotel and expose them to materials that have been preserved for research and do not normally have a venue for public viewing. He said the mission of Mackinac State Historic Parks is to preserve and present history from all areas of Mackinac, and Grand Hotel is an integral part of the Island’s history.
The three jurors for this year’s exhibition were Marlee Brown, a Mackinac Island artist and wife of Grand Hotel President R. Daniel Musser III, Vince Carducci, assistant dean and interim chair of the Fine Arts Department at College for Creative Studies in Detroit, and Valerie Mercer, curator and department head of General Motors Center for African American Art at the Detroit Institute of Art.
The jury did not know the names of the artists when they looked at the works and are not affiliated with Mackinac State Historic Parks, Mr. Brisson said.
“Whenever you do a jury, it’s a tough process,” said Mr. Carducci. “There were 80 pieces that we had to break down to 15, and that’s a pretty severe nutrition rate, and to go to that we had certain criteria.”
The judges broke down each piece and looked for variety through photography, watercolor, oil, collage, and other media for the 15 select pieces. From there, each juror looked at the execution for each artist’s particular idea and artistic ability.
“In any jury, you want to respect the community’s values,” said Mr. Carducci. “That’s where Marlee was great as a person who has such a history in this city and, plus, as a working artist.”
Urvana Morse of the Mackinac Arts Council presented the awards and Mr. Carducci commented on each piece.
Kelly Dorman was awarded first place and the Richard and Jane Manoogian Gold Medal and $5,000 for her three-dimensional beadwork, “The Foundation” or “In the Beginning.” Made from thousands of seed beads on heavy felt, the piece depicts a white pine stump to symbolize the stumps of trees used for the foundation of the hotel and the pine boards and lumber used to construct it.
She studied trees and stumps and used her experience in photography to analyze them and convert the images to beading.
“I spent a solid six months beading my piece,” said Mrs. Dorman. “I put the last bead on April 1 and the deadline [for contest entries] was April 2.”
One morning after waking up, she had a vision of what her finished piece was going to look like and what its title would be, and she stuck with that image the whole way through the process.
“It’s the first piece that I’ve done that, 100 percent, looks like what I had envisioned,” said Mrs. Dorman.
Her decision to design a tree stump was inspired by the white pine used to construct Grand Hotel and by the old stumps left after the trees were cleared from the construction site and subsequently incorporated into the foundation. Some remain under the hotel to this day.
She said the first travelers came to Grand Hotel looking for rustic elegance, and the stump symbolizes both of those traits.
“I don’t like things to be obvious, so I titled it like I did so that people could see where it was going,” she said.
Don Munz was the second prize award recipient and received $2,500 for his painting, “A Grand View.” His painting looks out at Round Island from the Cupola Bar atop of the hotel.
“A Grand View was a really nice painting about the experience of the hotel,” said Mr. Carducci. “It’s a view looking out onto the lake, and that’s why we come here, for that fantastic view.”
Beth Bynum took third place and was awarded $1,500 for her piece, “The Grand and the Turtle.” Native American history and legend and the mysteriousness of Grand Hotel inspired her collage. She arranged it on canvas using an antique book cover, layers of paper geraniums, a turtle,
Grand Hotel, and letters that spelled “Grand Hotel.” She has many collages displayed across the state, including two pieces in Art and the Garden in Traverse City and a piece in Riverside Gallery in Ypsilanti.
“I specialize in collage with mixed media, using different pieces,” said Mrs. Bynum. “I started doing collages when I was a teacher, and had my students do a collage each day.”
“The Grand and the Turtle was an interesting piece that represented Mackinac Island,” said Mr. Carducci. “The historical aspect that appeared in a contemporary way was something that really appealed to [the jurors.]”
Honorable mentions went to “Walking Along the Fence” by Miranda Green, “Sadie Walks Grand Porch” by Karen Gould, and “Grand Delights” by Rosemary Gould. Each received $500.
“Walking Along the Fence” depicted a hotel bus coming around the bend at the west end of the porch, seen through the blind-corner mirror installed there. The jurors thought the perspective was clever idea.
“Sadie Walks Grand Porch” captured in a photograph a modern image of the Victorian promenade, the jurors felt. Old photographs of the late 1800s show guests resting on the chairs, watching the passing parade along the porch, and the jurors saw a similar image in the photograph of Sadie, a champion show dog, passing in review with her handler.
“Grand Delights” by Rosemary Gould is a collage that captured the interest of the jurors because of its inventiveness of the hotel in a new way. Mr. Carducci particularly admired the craftsmanship of the piece and its overall appearance.
“People of Mackinac” will be the theme for next year’s art contest.