ManneqART is not quite a household word, but it is definitely becoming familiar to Howard County residents. Each year since 2013, as many as 100 artworks have been on display at a variety of locations around Howard County, including the Mall in Columbia.
Thousands of people stop to look, some to take pictures, some to just wonder “what in the world is that made of?” according to Lee Andersen, ManneqART founder and local wearable art clothing manufacturer.
The ManneqART competition is now in its fourth year and has attracted artists from at least 20 states each year. “We’ve also had artworks from other countries, but the cost of shipping keeps that number down,” said Andersen. “We’ve already shown 200-plus artworks from 100-plus artists, and this year we’re expecting to receive more than 50 artworks, including at least two pieces that were entered into the world-famous New Zealand World of Wearable Art (WOW).”
“ManneqART aspires to be more than an annual sculptural arts competition,” explained Andersen. “We want to be an international arts and education organization that inspires creativity, teaches problem-solving skills and rewards excellence in sculpture on the human form in a variety of ways.”
ManneqART does workshops for artists of all ages and skill levels, and works with students in Howard County and Anne Arundel County. The competition has had entries from more than a dozen Maryland Institute College of Art students and students from other colleges around the U.S.
It hopes to become a clearinghouse for information about the art and the artists wherever they may live and create their artworks. “Its quite sad to think that the typical artist puts hundreds of hours into creating their artwork for ManneqART or another event, and then they stuff it in a closet or tear it up and use the materials for something else.” said Andersen. “We try to buy some of the best artworks from each competition for our archives.
“Our vision is to have a ManneqART museum or gallery where people can come to enjoy the artworks. Sculptural artworks are showing up in more and more galleries,” said Andersen, “and we’d like to find a home for the ManneqART pieces so Howard County residents and visitors can really enjoy the products of so many creative minds.”
Although it is based in Howard County, ManneqART is seeking to become a global catalyst for inspiring sculpture on the human form. A recent ManneqART event at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., and participation in the 2015 Hair Ball at the Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, as well as other events, have shown that there’s an enthusiastic audience for this type of art beyond Howard County.
“We love being a part of the Howard County art scene,” said Andersen, “and we’re grateful for the support we’ve received from the Howard County Arts Council, the Community Foundation of Howard County and other business and private enthusiasts. But we need a broader base of support in order to grow the organization big enough to attract the best artists and artworks in the world.”
WOW has been at this for 25 years, and “they’re pretty much the global gold standard,” Andersen explained, but ManneqART is getting national attention and beginning to attract some of the best sculptural artists in the U.S. Robert Reed, a sculptural artist from Hawaii and a ManneqART participant since 2013, recently had his 2015 ManneqART entry and 2015 overall winner “OMGeode,” accepted by WOW.
This year’s competition is based on four themes: Flora, Fauna, Action and Androids. Artists choose the theme(s) they want to follow and spend months creating designs from such materials as melted plastic bags, surgical gloves, tree branches, bath scrubbies, astroturf, sculptural steel, etc.
ManneqART Madness is the annual sculpture, hair and makeup event where all the artworks are “married” to the human form. Models are fully made up and photographed for the 2017 ManneqART calendar. Baltimore-based photographer Irvin Simon/Studio 14 has been donating professional photography for the calendar since 2013.
June 26 is the date for this year’s ManneqART Madness, to be held at Historic Savage Mill. “Mill owners Steve Adler and Jay Winer have donated the mill to ManneqART for this event for the last four years,” said Andersen. “They see the value to our community of bringing the arts to Howard County, and we make a strong effort to bring as many visitors to the mill as possible to see our event and to shop with mill merchants.
“We want this to be a win-win for everyone,” she said. The photographs also are donated to each artist for his or her own personal use/portfolio and can be seen at the ManneqART Gallery at www.manneqart.org/gallery.
For two weeks in September, all of the artworks go on display at multiple locations around Howard County. Last year’s artworks were shown at 10 locations.
This year’s exhibit will run from Sept. 10–25. The Mall in Columbia, Columbia Art Center, North Laurel Community Center, Gary J. Arthur Community Center in Glenwood and Robinson Nature Center have agreed to show the display, and five more sites are being considered.
The final event of the 2016 ManneqART year is the Awards Gala, scheduled for Oct. 30 at Ten Oaks Ballroom. “Because it’s the day before Halloween, we’ve decided to call it ManneqART Masquerade, and we’re going to turn the ballroom into a dazzling display of sculpture on the human form,” explained Andersen. “This is where we thank our donors and sponsors, introduce many of our artists and models, and announce theme and student award winners.”
Cash prizes totaling $10,000 will be announced, and artists will be on hand to talk about their work and ideas.
For information on how to attend, volunteer, support or participate in ManneqART, go to www.manneqart.org or contact Al Scolnik, executive director, ManneqART Inc., at 310-778-0616.