An Inside Look at the Orchard Lake Fine Art Show

The West Bloomfield event returns for its 17th year with artwork from across the nation
Orchard Lake Fine Art Show
Flowers and Stripes Vase by Maria Reyes-Jones. // Photograph courtesy of Orchard Lake Fine Art Show

On July 27 and 28, the annual Orchard Lake Fine Art Show will return to West Bloomfield for a weekend celebration featuring about 140 juried artists. The event, which is in its 17th year, is put on by Hot Works, a local production company that organizes art shows in various states. Patty Narozny, the executive producer of Hot Works as well as the president of the nonprofit Institute for the Arts & Education, spoke with Hour Detroit about what to expect this year, why her show is unique, and how artists are selected for the event. 

Hour Detroit: What’s the mission of the Orchard Lake Fine Art Show?

Patty Narozny: Our focus is visual arts, which means all work is original and personally handmade by the artist in the show. We have a major problem in Michigan juried shows where there are buy-sell flea markets that show up and it’s mixed in between the visual arts. Not only is that misleading to the artists in the show, but it’s also misleading to the patrons. We’re an advocate against that. [Artists] know that we’re going to keep the quality of the show, and we’re going to bring in patrons who are art lovers and buyers. It’s extremely important for us to have something for everyone. From $25 to as high as you can go — I know there are pieces that have sold for $30,000 out of the show. We also focus on community enrichment, cultural diversity, and fostering art education among youth.

Orchard Lake Fine Art Show is known to feature artists from all over the U.S. How are you attracting these out-of-state creatives to the show?

I’ve attended more than 1,000 art shows across the country, and I personally know several thousand art show artists. Back in 2006, I took our business out of state and added shows in Florida and North Carolina, which also have become top shows in the nation. [Networking and promoting there] is how I bring artists to Michigan who don’t participate in other Michigan art shows. With the artists who attend, they’re the ones who make the event special. We have a lot of unique, original, different artists who come to this show that you won’t see at other Michigan shows.

Orchard Lake Fine Art Show
Photograph courtesy of Orchard Lake Fine Art Show
Can you share how the application process works?

We had about 350 applications this year and there are about 140 artists in the show. Every artist that applies has to submit one image of their booth as they would set up at the show and three images of their most compelling work. [The selection process is] based on originality, technique, execution, booth appearance, and then the on-site judging will also have a wow factor included as part of the judging.

Who will be doing the on-site judging?

Our artist judge this year is Sally Bright. She’s a retired artist from Fenton. She was doing shows for over 40 years. Her work is in museums all over the country. We have 17 professional awards, and [Bright] will award them. Best of show is $1,000, and then there are two $500 awards and then five $100 awards of excellence. There are also 10 non-monetary awards of distinction as a way to recognize additional great artists in the show.

Orchard Lake Fine Art Show
Duncan Williams photograph courtesy of Orchard Lake Fine Art Show
Your nonprofit focuses on arts and education for kids. How are you involving youth in the show?

What we do differently, which is very important, is the [Institute for the Arts & Education] Youth Art Competition. As part of our commitment to bringing art education into the community, we encourage all students ages 5-13 to enter their original and personally handmade art to be publicly displayed within the art show. At 3 p.m. on Sunday, I give a presentation along with an artist whom I select as the youth art judge. There’s $250 in youth art prizes, and the winners also receive the same gorgeous two-foot long ribbon that the professional artists receive. We explain how, if they don’t win, all art is subjective and not to give up if they love doing it and to congratulate those who win.

What else can visitors look forward to at the event?

While the visitors can always look forward to the great art, we do have minimal great music within the event on Saturday and Sunday. We also have a couple of great local food vendors. We don’t put carnival food in the show. They have to have a local restaurant.

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