The Rapidian

Grand Rapids art family joins under one roof

Forest Hills Fine Art Center brings 10 years of artists and their exhibits together for one night in their gallery.
Artists look upward for a group photo ten years in the making.

Artists look upward for a group photo ten years in the making. /John Wiegand

Additional Information

The Forest Hills Fine Art Center's Retrospecive exhibit will run until December 13.

To learn more about the Fine Art Center, their program's, the exhibit or the AIR program visit FHFAC's website or contact Meggan George, the Fine Arts Center Manager.

Artists and community members mingle together admiring the exhibits.

Artists and community members mingle together admiring the exhibits. /John Wiegand

Forest Hills Public Schools graduate and photographer, Erik Holladay chatting with art community members.

Forest Hills Public Schools graduate and photographer, Erik Holladay chatting with art community members. /John Wiegand

On Thursday, November 14 the Forest Hills Fine Art Center (FHFAC) kicked off their 10th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibit with a public artist reception at their gallery. The reception was dedicated to showcasing the work of West Michigan artists who had participated in FHFAC’s Artists in Residency (AIR) program over the last 10 years. It also gave them the opportunity to meet with members of the community and fellow artists about their work and the local artistic community in general. Landscape photographs, pastel portraits and abstract paintings covered the walls, while sculptures, pottery and other multi-dimensional art from each of the artists were brightly displayed around the gallery’s floor. Despite their various artistic backgrounds, the artists were all connected through the AIR program’s lineage and love for the West Michigan arts community.

“I am just in love with the multigenerational aspect of our older and more established artists with the young and emerging ones. They’ve all been part of the same experience,” said FHFAC’s Manager, Meggan George. George has been with the Center since its opening in 2004. “Many of them have mentored each other,” she continued.

The community atmosphere was evident as artists exchanged laughter and friendly comments with one another and the public. The reception marked the first time in the AIR program’s history that all 54 participating artists have gathered in the same space.

“For me, this is a family event. These artists have been with us for ten years and their spouses, significant others, kids and family members have all gotten to know us too. It is like a homecoming,” said George.

The AIR program allows local artists to be nominated or apply to feature their work in the FHFAC’s gallery for a one month residency. Five artists are selected each year by the AIR Committee, a board of local artists, art teachers and art advocates, to participate. The residency requires the artists to teach one day in each of the Forest Hills High Schools, or host a community workshop. In exchange, the Center does all of the artist’s marketing and exhibiting for the month and will offer their work for sale, if the artist chooses.

“The best part of this whole thing was getting to teach the kids. I mean coming in here and showing your art is great, but going and teaching the kids was amazing. I can’t say enough about it,” said photographer Erik Holladay, who is the only participating artist to have graduated from Forest Hills Public Schools.

While the spotlight is typically placed on ArtPrize, known for drawing in national talent, the culmination of the areas’ well established artists under one roof was a welcomed reminder of the artistic prowess present in West Michigan.

“I have come back to this area again and again,” said Kathleen Mooney, an abstract artist originally from Ada. She paused as she looked at the deep orange colors of her painting. “We have a vibrant and active arts scene, we have incredibly talented artists and we have a sense of community and family that brings us to this place and helps us form roots here.”


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