Northern Exposure marks 25 years

Photographer Hall has been long-time event participant

“Feeling Excited” by Escanaba photographer Michael Hall

ESCANABA — Northern Exposure, the longest running annual art competition in the Upper Peninsula will mark its 25th year tonight, with an awards ceremony and artist reception. For some, including last year’s Media Award winner Michael Hall, the competition is a yearly ritual.

“I believe I have been entering since 2011. It has taken me several years of entering in order to be accepted,” said Hall, adding that last year was the third or fourth year he was accepted into the competition.

At first glance, Hall’s Media Award-winning photo of two humming birds feeding off a single flower is a unique shot of two normally territorial birds sharing a meal, but there’s more to the photo than even Hall noticed when the picture was shot.

“(The) photos were taken on the shores of Lake Michigan at my friend Lisa Fosmo’s house. She has these large flowering bushes (Bee Balm) that attract hummingbirds, and I was there for about 35-40 minutes taking several hundred photos, and didn’t notice that I captured this hummingbird relieving (itself) until later when I was going through images on my big screen,” said Hall, who titled his award-winning image “Feeling Excited.”

The photo wasn’t Hall’s only entry in last year’s competition.

“In 2017, I was told that all three of my entries were accepted, and this was the first time all three made the cut. I was really excited about this news,” he said.

“Feeling Excited” isn’t Hall’s only win at the Northern Exposure. In 2014, at Northern Exposure XXI, Hall took home another Media Award. In 2016, at Northern Exposure XXIII, Hall won a purchase prize with his work going to a local law firm.

“Since 2011 I have also entered other exhibits and the Bonifas, and over the years, I have won a total of 15 separate awards for my photography. Quite a few have been purchased by local hospitals and medical facilities,” Hall said of his work.

This year, Hall is entering a photo that is very different from “Feeling Excited” into the competition. “When Push Comes to Shove” juxtaposes a colorful sunrise with masses of lake ice that have collected on the shore. While piled ice is not uncommon, the orange sun creates unique highlights that contrast with the deep blue of the ice.

While photography is Hall’s medium of choice, the competition pits him against a variety of other artforms including pottery, sculpture, embossed metal, glasswork, weaving, drawings and paintings. Multiple awards are given out at the event, including the Media Award, which is sponsored by the Daily Press.

“All in all, getting into Northern Exposure is always the biggest challenge. There are so many great contributors of very fine, diverse and eclectic artistic styles, and (for one, must be very difficult to juror) I am truly honored to have won this media award for my work,” he said.

The Meet the Artists Reception will begin tonight at 7 p.m. Guests and artists attending the event will also have an opportunity to meet Pamela Anderson, the Milwaukee artist who is jurying this year’s Northern Exposure competition.