by Elizabeth Wehman, editor


Two top prizes are the mark to hit at the upcoming 8th Annual ArtPrize event that is held every fall in Grand Rapids. Debbie Fehrenbach, of St. Johns, and Pat Skvarenina, of Owosso, are excited to vie for not only the chance to win big money, but also to highlight their love of art. ArtPrize is the largest art competition in the world with 44 countries and also 40 states represented. “It’s just an awesome venue to be able to go to. It gives artists, like us, a little notoriety, but most of all it pushes us outside limits,” says Debbie.

Beginning in April, Pat and Debbie sat down and drew up a mock up of what they would like to enter into the competition. Soon an image formed of a young woman standing tall, reaching for the sky with her hair suspended in a flow behind her. The sculpture has been named, “Breath.” “Breath was created from the passion of art, friendship, and the strength of women,” commented Pat about their seven foot high figure. The artist team says their experience in creating her celebrates their sisters, mothers, daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and friends who experience power and joy by just being a woman. It also highlights the strength woman achieve by overcoming obstacles that have been placed in their ways by their mere existence. This collective power of women banning together creates an undeniable power within. “This collective power is the embodiment of Breath,” adds Pat.

Debbie is a metal jewelry artist who has loved art since she was a child. Whether it’s pottery, watercolor painting, or jewelry, art is an intregal part of who she is and how she lives her life. Pat, the Owosso Charter Township Clerk, has a passion that is driven by learning and growing her experience in all aspects of art. Both women have a love for all disciplines of metals.

“Breath” is made up of thousands of individually forged copper squares all attached to a gridded metal form. The final step about to take form for the sculpture involves the process of coloring the metal with chemicals and heat. This brings out vivid colors on the sculpture and also protects it from the elements of being outdoors. It gives the sculpture somewhat of a hard enamel coating.

The project has been a goal for the women for years. To form the sculpture the women diligently sought out local retail shops for their design’s materials. It will also get the patina finish in Owosso.

ArtPrize is a free event and is open to the public. Votes are cast by those viewing the art projects and then voting for their favorite piece for the $250,000 in cash prizes. To show support for our local artists, plan to visit Grand Rapids during the art show. The first round of voting ends on Oct. 1. After Oct. 1, the top 20 entries go on to win the second phase of the competition. You need to be present to vote by bringing a state issued driver’s licence or ID to a voting site. The voting code for the Owosso sculpture, “Breath” is 63632. For more details on ArtPrize, go to

Two Local Artists Enter Famous Grand Rapids ArtPrize was last modified: September 12th, 2016 by Karen Elford