Sterling Heights

Call for artists: Sterling Heights looks for new works to feature as part of local artists’ program

The Sterling Heights Arts Commission has put out a call for local artists to apply for its Featured Artist program. But then, when isn’t Sterling Heights looking for local artists to feature? The city has as robust a public arts program as they come, with an ever-growing list of more than 30 sculptures, murals, and otherwise displayed throughout the city. They’ve even developed a GIS Art Map to help visitors find each work, which is available online.

True to form, this particular call for artists is an open one, an ongoing search for local artists to have their work displayed in the city on a two-month rotation. Artists can apply throughout the year and, once selected, book a two-month showcase as available. The next available showcase opens come April.

It’s a program that’s been going on for more than a decade, says Sue Giallombardo, Community Relations Services Specialist with the City of Sterling Heights. The showcase itself is located on the second floor of the Community Center, a wing that teems with activity and traffic. Artists often sell some of their work, Sue says, and some have even gone on to be commissioned to paint large-scale murals at various points throughout the city.

We spoke with Sue Giallombardo to learn more about the city’s Featured Artist program and public art in Sterling Heights.

Metromode: Hi Sue, and thanks. To start, can you introduce the city’s Featured Artist program to our readers?

Sue Giallombardo: We reach out to artists in any of the mediums, and they do not need to be residents of Sterling Heights. We're just trying to encourage people to share their creativity. We have a showcase in our Community Center that’s about 6’ by 9’ where artists can come in and display their work. It could be pottery or paintings, drawings — whatever they might have. Artists can apply and show us a couple of samples of their work, and then members of our Arts Commission will take a look. Selected artists will receive the next two months that are available — so they get to display their stuff for two months. Our SHTV crew will interview them for broadcast, and then we send out a press release. It gives our local artists a little bit of exposure; oftentimes they sell one or two pieces, which is great. The Community Center is super busy. There's tons of classes up there, the walking track is up there. It gets a decent amount of traffic.

Metromode: Is there anything specific you’re looking for in the applications?

Sue: Not really. It would be great to get some kind of 3D work up there, like pottery or something else. Right now there's a gentleman in his 70s who has his work displayed and he's been an artist for 50 years. But you don't have to have a gallery anywhere, you don't have to have a shop. It can be somebody who does it for a hobby or professionally. We haven't had any kids do it yet, but I don't think the Arts Commission would be against that. So no, nothing specific that we're looking for.

[Related: See Steve Koss’s “Sterling Heights public art walk” photo essay on Metromode.]

Metromode: Sterling Heights has a very robust public art program. How does this weave into that?

Sue: We're always looking for artists to put up a mural, and we're always looking for wall space from building owners and businesses. We’ve had artists in the showcase that would go on to install some of the murals in the city. We are really trying to promote public art. We think it adds a lot to the city and brings visitors here, like with all the sculptures and art around the city campus. On our website, we have a GIS map showing where different works are located. Any way that we can promote creativity and public art, we'd like to take advantage of that.

Visit Sterling Heights online to learn more about the Featured Artist program and application process.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

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