Groundcover News launches art contest spotlighting homeless and low-income artists

This summer, Ann Arbor-based nonprofit newspaper Groundcover News is highlighting local homeless, formerly homeless, and low-income artists through a new Visual Arts Contest. Artwork is currently on display at the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library until July 22, and will move from there to Ann Arbor’s MakeShift Gallery until August 14. Groundcover readers can also view all the artwork online by scanning a QR code found in the June 14, June 28, July 12, and July 26 issues of the paper. 

“We’ve done a lot of experiments over the years to find ways we can better support homeless artists,” says Groundcover News Managing Director and Publisher Lindsay Calka. “We thought this would be a cool way to patronize artists in a different way.”

Submissions fell into four categories: drawing, painting, photography, and mixed media. A panel of judges will evaluate each submission, and community members will have both in-person and virtual opportunities to vote on their favorite works. A $250 prize will be awarded to juried winners, and a $200 prize to popular choice winners, in each of the four categories.

“We know the artists and the kind of work they do, so we shaped the categories around what we predicted would be submitted,” Calka says. “Everyone that submitted was able to be featured. If you were interested, you were able to participate.”

The contest is not Groundcover’s first foray into highlighting its contributing artists. Calka explains that Groundcover “always has some sort of arts programming or content” due to the amount of Groundcover contributors who are artists. Previous arts-focused programming included a 2021 special edition of the paper filled with art submissions, and a Groundcover office art fair in 2022 that took place alongside the Ann Arbor Art Fair. Calka says that scheduling events around the Ann Arbor Art Fair is very intentional, and she hopes that doing so can uplift more low-income and unhoused artists.

“People who are part of the street culture and community have to move away for [the art fair] to take place, and on top of that a lot of them are artists who can’t afford to be part of the fair itself," she says.

All voting closes at midnight, Aug. 5, with winners being announced on Aug. 9. Community members are invited to celebrate the contributing artists and their works at the MakeShift Gallery at 407 E. Liberty on July 28 from noon to 2 p.m. The free event will include food, drinks, live music, and artists speaking about their work.

“We just like to take up spaces in the ways that we can,” Calka says. “This is our way of saying that ‘We are here, this is legitimate art, and this is worthy to be seen and enjoyed.’”

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.

Photo courtesy of Groundcover News.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.