The 2023 Regional Biennial Sculpture Exhibition

Showcasing 55 of the Best Sculptures from States Surrounding the Great Lakes

    icon Jun 15, 2023
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A vast array of 55 contemporary sculptures from the 2023 Regional Biennial Juried Sculpture Exhibition are now on display at The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, which is located on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University through July 29th.  Back in 2008 the museum held its first exhibition, which is unique because it is entirely devoted to three-dimensional artworks. and was initiated to support artists working in sculpture within 200 miles of Saginaw, Michigan.  

“This year we wanted to expand the radius of the exhibition and thought about making it national or international, but decided instead open it to all the states that border the Great Lakes,” explains Curator of Education, Andrea Ondish. “This exhibition, which over the years has displayed the work of some of Michigan and Northern Indiana’s finest sculptors, has provided the Great Lakes Bay Region with quality artwork usually seen in large metropolitan areas."

“Sculptures are representational, abstract and non-representational and created in a wide variety of media and styles. The artists themselves represent a range of unique careers and backgrounds. Many artists represented have works in public places, museum collections, and private collections. Overall, the exhibition boasts a unique variety of sculptural forms.” 

Michael Dunbar, renowned American sculptor, served as the juror for this year’s exhibition  and selected the merit award winners from a total of 206 artworks submitted by 80 artists from the Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania, with 55 of these works on display at the exhibition.  All awards are sponsored by the Huntington Bank: Frances Goll Mills Fund,

For over forty-five years, Dunbar has worked continuously as a professional sculptor, building monumental, abstract works of art in steel and bronze for the grounds of sculpture parks, universities, corporate headquarters, and public plazas throughout the world.  Concepts of time, distance, and space run concurrently throughout Michael’s body of work. Forms are balanced to imply a sense of movement – as if they are at rest, waiting to be turned on or caught and frozen in the midst of action.

 “Michael creates model versions, which he refers to as ‘Machinist Studies,’ and courtyard sized versions of the monumental scale pieces that distinguish him throughout the country,” explains Ondish. “Each artist can submit up to 3 works and we had 81 artists submitting pieces, which Michael selected 55 for display in the exhibition.”

“I knew Michael back in the early 1990s not only as a public artist who creates massive sculptures, but as one of the co-founders of the Navy Pier Walk in Chicago, which is the world’s largest outdoor sculpture exhibition. Plus, he also worked a number of years as the Director of the Art In Architecture Program of Illinois. They have a law in Illinois that any state building slated for construction must set aside one-half of 1% of the total cost of that building for art, which resulted in these three Arts & Crafts marketplaces - one in Chicago, one in South Illinois, and one in Ohio that strategically place these works on consignment. Ohio has a similar program.”

As for the prizewinners at this year’s exhibition, they consist of the following:

• 1st Place - Foster Willey (Wave).

This steel sculpture with a painted powder-coat finish has very clean smooth lines and is fabricated just like a finely designed car.  “This artist has a wonderful website and this specific work is non-representational and abstract, as if it could be a bird because of its nice lyrical flow,” reflects Andrea. “If  you go his website you see he does great figurative art as well, and a lot of casting.  He teaches classes and will do a program on plaster-casting.”

 • 2nd Place • Ray Katz (Single Spiral)

According to Ondish, Ray Katz fabricates many sculptures and set up the Art & Design Department at Oakland University thirty years ago. “Ray creates and has artwork all over the county and will literally drive to California and put his art up, or to Tennessee and create an installation. He has a studio in Pontiac, Michigan in a very large building and his work is phenomenal. What’s even more amazing is that Ray is now 84-years of age!”

• 3rd Place • Anne Furnaris (The Omphalos of the Earth)

This bronze piece is amazingly intricate and engaging, with much going on within it. Anne and her husband are both from Romania and she is also a working oncologist. “She took classes at the College for Creative Studies and is a very spiritual person,” comments Andrea. “For this particular work she created the design in a wax and then plaster cast it for the bronze.

*4th Place • Mark Beltchenko (E Pluribus Unum?)

Mark has entered many regional biennials previously and has created a lot of artwork and jewelry. “His work within the last few years is always strong in content and intent,” explains Andrea, “and he’s really moved since COVID to a very socio-politico stance in many of his works, as you can tell by the title of this piece. He was also the 1st place winner back in 2021 and Marshall Fredericks did an exhibition of his work during COVID.”

When asked about her overall impression of this 2023 exhibition, Ondish says she was pleasantly surprised. “At the end of the month when I was spotting and putting up the works for this exhibition, I felt a strong focus towards history and more ancient motifs, like an overall theme. I do feel this is the most variety of styles I’ve seen in a while, especially with the use or ceramics,” she concludes.

“We are excited and honored to have Michael Dunbar as the juror for this exhibition due to his notable public art sculpting and administrator career.” notes Megan McAdow, Museum director at SVSU. “It’s important that the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum and Saginaw Valley State University support living artists and hosting a biennial sculpture exhibition is an excellent way to accomplish that goal.”

Additional educational and public programming will be announced in the coming weeks and include virtual studio visits and artist talks with winning sculptors. Make and Take Saturdays will return at the end of July.

The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is located on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University, 7400 Bay Road, University Center.  Museum hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

For more information, call (989) 964-7125 or visit the Museum’s website at

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