Sept. 8 2010 12:00 AM

Lansing Art Gallery director finds a new home for selected pieces from in-state artists


Naturally, artist Mark E. Mehaffey has several of his paintings displayed around the house. One of the pieces was in Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize competition last year; another painting, he liked but it was rather large. A third was an acrylic of the coastline between Carmel, Calif. and Big Sur.

Next year, those three paintings will move to a new home, the Michigan governor’s residence, where they will be enjoyed by mansion visitors, as well as the future governor.

“It’s an honor for the governor of your state to select our artwork to live with,” Mehaffey said.

The Governor’s Residence Michigan Artist program brings artwork from state artists into the public spaces of the governor’s residence, honoring local artists as well as decorating the mansion.

Catherine Babcock, director of the Lansing Art Gallery, was asked to gather a collection of artwork for the program this year.

Babcock said 90 submitted pieces were selected by judges and sent to the governor, who narrowed the field down to 60 pieces by 37 artists.

The governor will hold a reception for the artists that were selected this fall to celebrate the paintings and Michigan art.

Lansing artist Nicolette Rose said she’s excited to see her work in the governor’s residence and hopeful that a wide variety of people will get to view her artwork over the year that they are displayed. She has three pieces going to the residence.

“It’s really nice that the governor’s doing this,” she said. “There are some fabulous local artists, so it’s really nice to be recognized.”

Mehaffey said he appreciates that the governor recognizes the importance of the arts in Michigan, and is making an effort to decorate her home with the work of local talent, as opposed to pieces from elsewhere in the country or world.

“A lot more of the economy is driven by the arts than most people think, and I think that lots of times, especially when economic times are tough and funding for arts gets cut, I think that it’s a little short-sighted on the part of our leadership,” he said.