Southfield, Michigan -- A self-taught painter whose idea to incorporate a children’s jacks theme into his art work had been percolating for 30 years was chosen as the winner of the 2015 MI Great Artist online competition.
Clawson artist Kenneth Hershenson, 62, smiled broadly as he was presented with a check for $1,500 by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson during a reception Tuesday evening at Park West Gallery in Southfield. Hershenson’s winning entry was a series of acrylic on canvas paintings of children’s jacks he called, “I DO Know Jack!”
“This is validation for working all of these years, for getting to do my passion,” Hershenson said.
A throng of Hershenson supporters and family cheered enthusiastically as Patterson announced the winner. Patterson lauded Hershenson and the other four finalists, thanking them for being part of the competition – now in its fourth year – and congratulating them for the inspired work they created.
“I’m in awe of all of you and the incredible works you create,” Patterson said. “This competition gets bigger and better every year, which you can see by the talented people who stand before you.”
Hershsenson spent much of his professional life working in architectural design and illustration, including stints with Disneyland and designing Japan stores for Starbucks while living in Seattle. He has participated in many juried art shows, winning awards in watercolor, drawing and painting. His “I DO Know Jack!” series was in the final top 25 public vote, round one (out of nearly 1,000 entries) in ArtPrize 7, the largest international art competition and exhibition.
Hershsenson thanked Patterson and Park West Gallery for sponsoring an event that celebrates artists and gives them a forum to display their work. The prize package for the finalists is more than $16,000.
“It’s so tough for artists to get their work out there,” he said. “We’re our own marketers, managers. We have to get the word out. This (MI Great Artist) gets us in front of people, gets more eyes on our work.”