"You bring the artists back, and you bring everybody back."
That's what Robert Karazim says about the reinvigoration of cities and, in particular, Pontiac.
It's why he started Canvas Pontiac
. The public art project, now in its fifth year, is currently accepting submissions for the 2017 season. A panel of judges will select 25 pieces of art to be enlarged to the size of 8 ft. by 10 ft. and hung on the sides of buildings throughout downtown Pontiac.
The contest is in partnership with the Detroit Institute of Arts and has been since its second year. There are a number of prizes for winning artists, ranging from $25 to $2,000, made possible by sponsorships from local businesses. Submissions are due this April 16, 2017.
Beginning last year, Canvas Pontiac started a similar competition for the artists of both the public and private high schools in the city.
"We have a really great team," says Karazim, who owns K and R Architectural Studios
. "It's all volunteers, and we're not making any money from this. It's all done for a love of Pontiac."
In starting Canvas Pontiac, Karazim believed that he had to give people a reason to visit downtown. A series of state-appointed Emergency Managers and vacant storefronts had left some people with a bad taste in their mouths. Karazim felt public art was a way to get "feet on the street." The art, he says, is "a big neon sign saying that Pontiac is alive and healthy."
Now the downtown is bouncing back with new restaurants and businesses. And Karazim is one of those buying into downtown Pontiac, having purchased a three-story building in 2014. The building, erected in 1868, will be converted to two floors of loft space and a theater on the ground floor. Called The PLAT, or Pontiac's Little Art Theater
Karazim is hoping for a spring opening.
Visit the Canvas Pontiac website
or their Facebook page
to learn more about the artist submission process.
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Photos courtesy of Canvas Pontiac.