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Under Pressure: Artists Supporting the UICA

Underwriting support from:

Be There!

When: Saturday, February 19

Time: 7-11 p.m.

Where: UICA 41 Sheldon Blvd. SE

Cost: $70 per person, includes food, music and an art auction; $60 for UICA members.

Call: 616.454.7000 for ticket information

Abstract art by Nuel Friend

Abstract art by Nuel Friend

Traffic by Molly Pettengill

Traffic by Molly Pettengill

Artist, Devin Slattery

Artist, Devin Slattery

Imagine working with someone looking over your shoulder. Imagine strangers commenting on what you're working on. Add in some distractions like music; groups of people talking, laughing, drinking and eating all the time you're working. Sound like fun? Must be. Because 50 artists this will be immersed in this chaotic scene as they show off their creative side for the 11th annual Live Coverage event to benefit Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (UICA).

"Experiencing the creative process is important because you can see the work that goes into a piece of art. It gives attendees the opportunity to meet artists and talk with them about their intentions and inspiration for their work,"said Phil Meade, public relations specialist for the UICA. Artists are invited by the UICA to participate and staff looks for artists who are established in West Michigan, but also keeps an eye out for emerging artists.

Yolanda Gonzalez is undecided about what she'll be creating for the event, but she's getting ready what she needs to produce art that night.  "I'll do either a large acrylic painting on canvas or several smaller gouache illustrations on paper that will be auctioned as a series. I may look at my sketchbooks for ideas a few days ahead, but usually I just bring the sketchbooks and decide the day of. The pressure is enough to spark creativity," she said. Gonzalez serves as a board member for UICA, so she fully understands the importance of the event, which brings in about $50,000 a year. "This is the biggest fundraiser of the year for UICA and the most fun. I've been both a spectator and an artist of this event in the past. I prefer being an artist. The energy during the day with other artists are working is amazing. I see it as a win-win. I get much needed creative jolt to last me for a while and UICA gets financial and community support," she said.

Nuel Friend is a second year artist at the event. Because his abstract pieces are created with roofing tar, oil paint and polyurethane "The fumes aren't really compatible for an event like this, so mine will be already finished for the auction," said Friend. The non-objective abstract piece was created specifically for the UICA event. "The UICA provides great art programs for youth, which is greatly need with the decline of art education in our public school system. I have always wanted show my work at the UICA and this is a great opportunity to progress my career as an artist while also giving back to help progress art in our community."

Devin Slattery will be making art at Live Coverage as a first timer. She's not too worried about the potential distractions. "I teach drawing and have to not only draw in front of my students, but also talk while I'm drawing, I'm not too concerned. If I'm in a creative zone, there's not much that can distract me. But I haven't participated in an event like this before, I suppose I will find out!," she said.  Most of the art she makes are soft, sensual drawings of strong archetypical female figures. The art is done on paper using pencil, graphite powder and sometimes cut paper. "I apply the powdered graphite with soft brushes, creating a hazy and dreamlike atmosphere. I then use pencils to define and refine and erasers to work subtractively," she said. Slattery is planning a portrait of a woman with moths and flowers, and expects with the time constraints of creating work on site that she will experiment with the process as she makes the art that evening.

Molly Pettengill is a natural born performer and making art for a crowd doesn't faze her. "I've always been some kind of performer in a way, I'm competitive and when I was younger I would dance, figure skate and later, snowboard competitively.  This is another 'sport' and I love to perform!  It's great to have the pressure and energy around you at Live Coverage--it elevates my level of work.  I'll admit it is hard to stay focused with so much going on, but I am influenced by the work ethic of the other artists and the amazing work everyone is creating," she said.

Pettengill addresses the issues of environmental concerns and the social psychology of everyday life with images of traffic. "Traffic is  a universal icon, it has so much to do with our daily lives and most people can relate to the images one way or another. I will be creating one of my traffic paintings using oil on canvas. I think the process of creation is energetic and exciting to watch. I use color and a dripping technique to seduce the viewer aesthetically. I love to see the reaction when they realize the subject matter is traffic." she said.

Christina Mrozik is a pen and ink artist for whom animals hold a special interest. “I typically draw animals that have been physically altered. Stripping away fur and exposing their skeletal structures or adding industrial elements such as a cage, in order to convey metaphors about feeding, migration, shelter, mating, and self awareness. I feel these things are an essential part of our own existence,” she said. Her Live Coverage artwork will be one of her animal drawings, but perhaps a bit more fun. “I haven’t decided exactly what yet. I'm going to let it come together while I work.”

The idea of working in front of a noisy crowd doesn’t bother her. “I enjoy making art with people around. It’s inspiring to have people to talk to if you, by chance, get stuck in a rut. I also think it’s important to be able to make art something that's easily accessible. Working in public places helps increase the conversation.” This is her first year at Live Coverage.

Funds raised through Live Coverage help support the exhibitions at UICA and its educational programming.

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