Application window opens for local artists to submit to Canvas Pontiac: $26K in prizes

What’s happening: The application window has opened for Canvas Pontiac, the annual regional art competition now in its ninth year. This year’s contest features $26,000 in cash prizes and scholarships. It’s the first year that scholarships will be awarded, introduced to honor Canvas Pontiac co-founder and downtown Pontiac booster Robert Karazim, who passed away in 2021.

What it is: Canvas Pontiac is an initiative of Main Street Pontiac, and counts the Detroit Institute of Arts among its major sponsors. Those artists accepted into the program will vie for the announced cash prizes and scholarships; accepted artworks will eventually be installed throughout downtown Pontiac.

Last year’s winners, this year’s art: The 2021 winners of Canvas Pontiac will see their artworks displayed on 8’ x 10’ canvasses throughout downtown Pontiac by July 15 and in time for this year’s Pontiac Arts Crawl, scheduled for Friday, July 22. The 3rd annual event returns after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and features food vendors, live music, and, of course, art.

Why it’s important: Organizers of Canvas Pontiac promise a renewed sense of mission for 2022, wanting to leverage public art as a way to get people out of their cars and walking around downtown Pontiac. Efforts to make Canvas Pontiac more pedestrian-friendly today will lay the groundwork for tomorrow, they say, when downtown Pontiac will become more accessible to pedestrians with the demolition of the “Woodward Loop,” which is expected to begin in 2025.

What they’re saying: “We plan to install the winning artworks in public spaces and at eye level. Additional features of the program include youth art, scholarship awards, outdoor strolling exhibits, and galleries,” says Steven Childs, Vice President of Main Street Pontiac, and chair of the organization’s Promotions Committee. “Our new programs will demonstrate that the arts are alive and will thrive in Pontiac for decades.”

How to enter: Early registration is open through Friday, July 15, and costs $35 to enter. Following the early registration window, the submission fee costs $50 through a final deadline of Wednesday, Aug. 31. There are four categories: photography, handcrafted — which includes drawings, paintings, and more, as well as digital art and NFTs — automotive-themed works, and murals. Winners of each category will receive a $3,000 grand prize. $2,500 scholarships are available in the photography and hand-crafted categories. A full breakdown of submission rules, the prizes, scholarships, and more can be found online.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.