ArtSlam! 2018

ArtSlam! is a friendly competition among five Fans of the SBMA: Michelle Engel, Todd Draper, Bill Merryfield, Jen Firestone, and Maggie Gibney. Each “Fan” has selected their favorite artwork from the Permanent Collection of the Museum and is creating a work of art in response to it. Votes will be tallied and the winner announced at the SBMA ArtLights Gala on October 25, 2018. The fan who receives the most votes will win the coveted Guilded Brush Award.

Voting begins October 5th! See all the artwork for yourself in our Rotunda gallery through October 25, 2018. Cast a vote for your favorite for $25. Proceeds benefit arts programming at the South Bend Museum of Art. Each artwork will then be auctioned off in a special live auction at the ArtLights Gala event.

Meet The 2018 ArtSlammers! 

Michelle Engel – Zisla: Portrait of a Legend
I was born and raised in the Twin Cities, Minnesota.  Growing up I didn’t go anywhere without my pencils and markers.  I loved to draw and eventually paint. I have always enjoyed creating and viewing art. Although I took a break from community art classes to attend law school, I resumed soonafter with figure painting and even pottery with my daughter.  I am grateful to be able to pursue painting in addition to my busy career.  I paint from life, and from photos I take that speak to me in some way. I see beauty in the spectacular and mundane and attempt to capture it with oils on canvas, a challenge and pursuit that giv

me great pleasure.  Check out my new joint venture, Artistas, on Facebook, and Instagram (@_.artistas._).   

I took a stroll through the permanent gallery and Harold Zisla’s self portrait chose me.  I took a picture of it and bought some more cadmium red and yellow, and cerulean blue and went to work on an interpretation of his painting, which aimed to capture the Harold Zisla I knew and loved. I felt his presence as I painted.

To vote for Michelle, click the link below, Register on the Give Smart website, then cast your vote. Each vote is $25.


Maggie Gibney – I Rise
My piece was inspired by Heather Brammeier’s Triangle Bench. The piece I have created is a screen with an application of paper on top of it. The paper I’ve used in this is actually paper that I shared with my Dad in the past, Jeff Gibney.  I was feeling a little emotional to get engaged with art since his passing and the opportunity to do this project was the perfect opportunity to dive back in and move from small pieces to large sculpture.

Maggie Gibney is local artist who was raised on the Near West Side of South Bend by two artistic and eclectic parents that both prioritized raising their children in environments full of cultural and visual stimulation.  They thought of food, music, community events, and their special friends and family members as all part of their beautifully colorful and artistic canvas of their lives.  Maggie moved to Chicago when she was 17 years old to attend Columbia College.  Her continued exposure to the arts in college and expanded cultural opportunities in the windy city as well as internationally, helped her in continuing to develop herpersonal style and appreciation for what she has defined as inspirational. 

To vote for Maggie, click the link below, Register on the Give Smart website, then cast your vote. Each vote is $25.


Jen Firestone – Grab ’em
The inspiration for my piece came from three pieces in SBMA’s Permanent Collection. I decided to create a ceramic vessel in the shape of a pear inspired by Veil by Maria Tomasula and Sculptural Vessel by Bill Kremer.  I have recently developed a passion for painting with underglazes on ceramics, so I chose to carve and paint vintage paper dolls that were inspired by Big Daddy Paper Doll by May Stevens.


Jen Firestone was born and raised in South Bend. Graduated from Riley High School and received BFA in Painting from Indiana University, Bloomington. As a child she took ceramic and drawing classes at the South Bend Museum of Art. In high school she won a number of scholastic awards and decided to study art in college. After college she worked as a manager at Makielski Art Shop. She became a stay at home mom to her three daughters and started a mural business where she painted scenes in nurseries and children’s rooms. Currently she teaches Drawing, Painting and AP Studio Art at Saint Joseph High School. Jen is apracticing artist creating works in many mediums including oil paint, watercolor, chalk pastel, oil pastel, colored pencil and has recently started working in ceramics.

To vote for Jen, click the link below, Register on the Give Smart website, then cast your vote. Each vote is $25.


Todd Draper
The artwork I chose for my inspiration is Roger Brown’s Ozark Hike. I took single elements from his piece and painted them on to windows. I feel like we are looking through our own vision when we look at these paintings, so I interpreted that literally and actually put it on windows. The painting really spoke to me, the kind of flatness of the images and the colors. It is the one that grabbed me the most out of everything I saw.


To vote for Todd, click the link below, Register on the Give Smart website, then cast your vote. Each vote is $25.




Bill Merryfield

The piece that inspired me was Roman Radecki’s Tradition. The reason I like it is because it is architectural in nature, but also because it is a little bit fantastic, it has fantasy involved. There’s some deconstruction there that I sort of ignored, but I really liked the piece, I liked the feeling of the piece, and because of my interest in architecture I selected it. What I created is what I would imagine the floor plan of the piece would be based on. What I also did was make it into a residential idea of a house that you could actually live in. It is a silk screen with pencil on top of it. It is a way I used to present to my clients that went along with architectural drawings. Because of the fantasy aspect of the Radecki piece, I also created a series of fountains that are activated by the rain. One is underground, it catches rain in the ground, and one is above ground. They are linked together. I created a series of boards related to those pieces. I also created an interior space of a linear house, based on a series of columns that move along a series of lines.

William Merryfield comes from the Midwest but has lived in several areas in the United States. His career encompasses architecture, fine art, graphic art, set design, styling and design education.He has an eclectic list of clients including Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian Institute, the Grammy Foundation, Dreamworks Records, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Interscope Records, EMI /Capitol Records, the Jim Henson Co. and Sony Music.

To vote for Bill, click the link below, Register on the Give Smart website, then cast your vote. Each vote is $25.

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