A Rochester Hills resident and former commercial artist whose larger-than-life images of Alice, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare caught the eyes of the public – and ultimately the judges – was chosen as the winner of the 2018 MI Great Artist online competition.
Kim Frank Fujiwara, 61, smiled broadly as he was presented with a check for $1,500 Wednesday by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson during an evening reception Tuesday at Park West Gallery in Southfield.
“I was ecstatic,” Fujiwara said. “It was a long time coming.”
Patterson lauded Fujiwara and the other four finalists, thanking them for being part of the competition – now in its sixth year – and congratulating them for the inspired work they created.
“When we work to attract companies – job providers to our regions – their questions inevitably turn to issues including quality of life and whether we support the arts,” Patterson said. “The MI Great Artist competition allows us to answer with a resounding, ‘Yes, we do.’ We have such incredible talent in this region and you saw it on display last night.”
Fujiwara, a three-time finalist, is a graduate of the Center for Creative Studies. He worked for numerous ad agencies and design firms in his career before going out on his own in 1992. He said the competition was talented. His 36-inch by 60-inch painting, “It’s Tea Time!”, required him to make special arrangements to deliver it to Park West Gallery.
“It wasn’t a given I was going to win,” he said of the intense competition. “It never is.”
Fujiwara’s prize package includes five submitted artworks framed by Park West Gallery; a group exhibition at Park West; business counseling and other services from the Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center; his artwork featured on a poster to promote one of Oakland County’s signature quality of life events; a solo exhibition at Park West; and a two-month solo exhibition at the Oakland County Galleria in the Executive Office Building in Waterford.
The prize package for the finalists totaled more than $16,000 in cash and prizes. The other finalists (with their medium and hometown) were:
- Thomas Bos, photography, White Lake Township
- William Brody, acrylic paint, Holly
- Robert J. Tyrrell, oil paint, Grosse Pointe Farms
- Genevieve Van Zandt, porcelain, Brighton
Brody, Tyrrell and Van Zandt each received a $375 cash prize, framing of five artworks by Park West Gallery, a group exhibition and a suite of business services from the Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center.
Bos received the most votes in the online competition and was named People’s Choice winner, for which he was awarded $750. He received the same services as the other finalists.
The finalists were chosen from a field of 209 artists from Oakland, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, St. Clair, Shiawassee and Wayne counties who entered the online competition in July in hopes their entries would catch the discerning eye of the public. After 27,000 online votes were cast during two weeks the field was whittled down in 35 artists. A panel of art experts selected the five finalists and ultimately chose the winner.
The judges were Park West Gallery founder and CEO Albert Scaglione; Charles Boike, an artist, lawyer and 2012 MI Great Artist finalist; Phil Gilchrist, executive director of the Anton Art Center in Mount Clemens; Barbara Heller, director and conservator – special projects for the Detroit Institute of Arts; Dominic Pangborn, founder of Pangborn Design Collection and former professor at the College of Creative Studies; artist Don Tocco; and Kristie Everett Zamora, coordinator of arts and culture for Oakland County's Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs.
Patterson launched the contest in 2012 as a quality of life initiative to identify and support up-and-coming artists. MI Great Artist partners include Oakland County, Park West Gallery, AdvantageOakland.com and Oakland County Prosper®.