The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts has announced award winners sharing more than $6,000 in awards in the 2019 West Michigan Area Show (WMAS). The awards were presented Friday evening, May 17 at the KIA.

A juried exhibition, the WMAS drew entries by established and emerging artists from a 14-county region. Artists and award winners were selected by juror Vera Grant, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

From more than 400 submissions, Ms. Grant chose 101 works of sculpture, painting, photography, ceramics, glass, prints, mixed media, and fiber by 87 artists. The exhibition was organized by KIA Associate Curator Katherine Ransbottom.

“This is an exhibition that reflects our commitment to celebrating Southwest Michigan’s artists and arts community,” says Ransbottom. “The Area Show is always a diverse and engaging exploration of regional talent, in a true collaborative, community effort that shines a light on the arts in West Michigan.”

The exhibition will be on view through August 25, and is sponsored by Chemical Bank and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, with support by David Isaacson in memory of his wife, Helen Sheridan.

The public is invited to vote for their favorite work during the course of the exhibition, with a final voting date of August 4. The Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo’s People’s Choice Award ($750) will be announced at noon on August 13, during the KIA’s weekly ARTBreak.


  • Helen Sheridan Memorial Grand Prize ($1,000): Chakila Hoskins, Kent County, Transformation, oil on canvas (shown above)
  • Second Place ($500): Dan Giancaspro, Kalamazoo County, The Spiritual House, wood and bronze
  • Third Place ($400): John Lambert, Kalamazoo County, Quantum, ceramics
  • Fourth Place ($300): Rozlin Opolka, Kalamazoo County, Doubled Over, watercolor on paper
  • Fifth Place ($200): Craig Bishop, Calhoun County, Saturday Morning Haircuts, oil on linen
  • Ward H. and Cora E. Nay Director’s Purchase Prizes: Dan Giancaspro, Kalamazoo County, The Spiritual House, wood and bronze


  • Eclectic Glass Guild of SWMI Award for Glass: Ekin Aytac and Josh Davids, Kalamazoo County, Cityscape 5, blown, cut and engraved glass
  • Kalamazoo Book Arts Center Award: Ali Hansen, Berrien County, An Accordion Mystery Book 4 “Gun and Garden”, collage/letterset accordion book
  • Kalamazoo Art League Prize: Deborah Mattson, Allegan County, Border Police, stone lithograph
  • Kalamazoo Knitting Guild Award: Sue Hale, Van Buren County, Spore I — What’s left behind, traditional wet felting, multiple resists and embellishment
  • Kalamazoo Log Cabin Quilters’ Art Quilt Award: Denise Tackett, Berrien CountyBlackbird Singing, quilt
  • Kirk Newman Art School Metals and Jewelry Department Award: Mary Baggerman, Kalamazoo County, Momento, cast silver and bronze with copper detail
  • Martin Maddox Prize for Imaginative Realism: John Leben, Allegan County, Welcome to the Tree Museum, limited edition print of a digital painting (shown below)
  • Ninth Wave Studio Award for Ingenuity in Mixed Media or Intermedia: Douglas LaFerle, Berrien County, Kali’s Wheel, motorized kinetic sculpture with found objects
  • Portage Community Art Award: June Belitz, Kalamazoo County, Sitting on Top of the World, original block design, pieced and quilted on home sewing machine
  • Signature Artist Cooperative Award: Robert deJonge, Ottawa County, Cathedral, giclee
  • Southwest Michigan Printmakers Excellence in Printmaking Award: Lee Ann Frame, Muskegon County, Hike, multiple color woodblock print
  • West Michigan Potters Guild Award for Ceramics: William Becker, Cass County, Flowers in the Crannied Wall, ceramic, mixed clay bodies, glazed fired cone six

Artists eligible to enter the WMAS are 18 years or older and live in one of 14 counties surrounding Kalamazoo: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Eaton, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa, St. Joseph, and Van Buren. Only original work of the artist’s own design, completed within the last two years was eligible.

Martin Maddox Prize for Imaginative Realism: John Leben, Welcome to the Tree Museum, limited edition print of a digital painting