Five Michigan celebrities will serve as judges for the Legacy Trust Award Collection, a statewide competition for adult artists with disabilities in advance of ArtPrize.

This year, more than 100 artists from around the state submitted entries for LTAC 2016, a new record. The celebrity judges will choose four winning artists who will receive $500 and sponsorship in ArtPrize, scheduled this year for Sept. 21 through Oct. 9 in downtown Grand Rapids.

The public’s chance to view and vote on the art is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 12 and May 13 at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, also in downtown Grand Rapids. The public will also be able to vote online during that time.

In addition, a private reception for all artists, judges and LTAC supporters will be held on the evening of Wednesday, May 11. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein, the court’s first blind justice, will be the featured guest and present brief remarks at the reception.

This year’s celebrity judges are:

·Richard App, owner of Richard App Gallery. App is a longtime presence in the
Grand Rapids art gallery scene. His fine art gallery at 910 Cherry Street SE in Grand Rapids represents more than 70 local, regional and national artists. He also offers custom framing and restoration of artwork, in addition to opening his space for gatherings ranging from classes to private parties. He has founded a new nonprofit, Grand Rapids Art Connect, Inc. or GRACI, designed to promote public art in the community.

·Rosalynn Bliss, Grand Rapids mayor. Bliss, who took office in January, is a former city commissioner and longtime lover of all things Grand Rapids. She is director of residential services for D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s and an adjunct professor at Grand Valley State University’s School of Social Work. In addition to her work in government leadership, the mayor serves on a wide variety of community boards. One of her early goals in office is to ensure neighborhoods have money for such projects as public art.

·Meegan Holland, special projects manager for Gov. Rick Snyder where she is currently concentrating on veterans affairs. Before this position, Holland was a career journalist, much of it overseeing state political coverage for Booth Newspapers and later MLive. While in Lansing, she spent 10 years with partner Robert Busby running the Creole Gallery, which hosted hundreds of art shows, concerts and other events. Holland, who also has lived in Grand Rapids, is an avid enthusiast of art in all of its forms.

·Christopher Smit, executive director of DisArt and associate professor at Calvin College. In his work with DisArt, Smit leads an arts and culture organization with the goal of changing perceptions of disability, one piece of art at a time. An active member of the disability culture in West Michigan, Smit has spent his career writing and teaching about the ways those with physical and cognitive differences are represented in culture. His first book was Screening Disability, a collection of essays about cinema and disability.

·David Thinger, artist and LTAC 2015 Winner. Thinger was last year’s recipient of the Lillian Perry Walker Award, the juried honor given by the LTAC Board of Directors. The East Grand Rapids resident’s piece, “The Road to Recovery,” was an oil and pastel work depicting the Medical Mile in Grand Rapids that now hangs in a private collection. The piece also reflected a metaphorical depiction of his own road to recovery, which included both faith and medical care. Thinger has been drawing and painting for decades, showing his work in LTAC and other art shows.

The celebrity judges will select one LTAC winner, the public will choose two and the LTAC Advisory Committee will present the Lillian Perry Walker award, the latter named for the young woman who inspired the formation of LTAC in 2010.

Launched by Grand Rapids-based wealth management advisors Legacy Trust, LTAC is open to all Michigan artists with disabilities and seeks paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, collages, mixed media and other works of art. Last year, 86 artists from around the state submitted artwork to LTAC.

Winners of LTAC 2016 will be announced by May 18. More information on LTAC is available at www.LTACArts.org.

ArtPrize returns to Grand Rapids for its eighth year. It debuted with much enthusiasm in 2009, and participation has soared in the following years.

In addition to Legacy Trust, LTAC is also sponsored by Meijer, Sabo Public Relations, Kantorwassink, Gilson Graphics, Kitchen Sage, Andrews, Hooper & Pavlik and Warner Norcross & Judd LLP.