• Jordan D. Smith

Portland Creates Highlights Local Artists

If you happened to visit the Portland District Library on Friday evening, looking for a quiet place to read, you may have believed that Friday the 13th was indeed your unlucky day. For local artists young and old though, Friday the 13th was actually their lucky day as they gathered with their family and friends to celebrate the conclusion of the Portland Creates art contest.

Now in its third year, the Portland Creates contest is the brainchild of library staffer Chelsea Boucha. This year, artists competed in age categories: ages 6 to 9, ages 10 to 12, teens, and adults. Participation in the contest has grown from previous years; according to Library Director Cory Grimminck, a record number of adults entered the contest this year. In total, 70 different artists entered more than a hundred pieces of art in the competition. Entries ranged from drawings in pencil and crayon, to paintings in watercolor and acrylic, to sculptures, and even textile arts.

Throughout the month of March, visitors to the library were invited to vote for their favorite pieces of art in each category to choose a “people’s choice” award in each age group. In addition two pieces in each age group were chosen by a panel of professional art jurists for recognition. Portland Federal Credit Union sponsored prizes for the winners, ranging from art supply kits to gift certificates. In addition adult winners will receive a month long art showing at the Gallery Brewery while younger winners will receive art classes with owner Rush Clement.

New this year, the library received grant funding from the Ionia County Community Fund to digitally archive all the art from Portland Creates on a site called Biblioboard. According to Boucha, using Biblioboard, “we can publish any of the art or beginning writers can publish their works on there...any library that has Biblioboard can access it.” Boucha says that the site will also support local artists and musicians getting their art or music out to a broader audience.

In addition, all the art entries are archived in flipbooks kept in the library collections. Anyone wishing to can peruse the art collection books from the past three years competitions any time in the adult section of the library. Ms. Boucha says, “I, myself, love art...and I like having art for inspiring the younger kids to get into art as well as to give...adults a chance to show off their talents.” Hopefully, Portland Creates continues to inspire artists of all ages to make our community more beautiful for many years to come.

PHOTOS: Courtesy of the Portland District Library.

DISCLOSURE: Jordan Smith enjoys not only writing, but also occasional photography and watercolor painting, which he entered in the Portland Creates contest this year.

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