March 31 - June 8, 2017


Lisa Ambrose Betrayal of Home

This exhibition examines the creative outlet and career catalyst afforded by artist-in-residence programs to painters, sculptors, cinematographers, researchers, ceramicists, poets, playwrights, fashion designers, musicians, and others working in the world of fine arts. Though a great deal of such residency programs exist across America, many are located in urban centers, where residents are able to submerse themselves in the thriving arts and cultural fabric and timeless innovation of city life. However, a number may also be found in the remote countryside, which allows visionaries seeking tranquil solitude to withdraw from the high-velocity environment of the modern world. One such location is the Golden Apple Studio of Harrington, Maine, which is the subject of this Artumentary.


March 10 - June 3, 2017

Clear Seeing Place: The Encapsulating Canvases of Brian Rutenberg


Featuring twenty-four paintings and five works on paper, this exhibition examines the career of New York-based artist Brian Rutenberg. These works, produced between 1993 and 2016, are on temporary loan to the Saginaw Art Museum from Forum Gallery in New York, with a few selections from the Jerald Melberg Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina.

As indicated by the title, Clear Seeing Place serves to illustrate the ideas and themes presented in Rutenberg’s recently published autobiography, Clear Seeing Place: Studio Visits. A self-professed Southern landscape painter, Rutenberg explores the notions of lucidity and authenticity of place, as well as the spatial relationships of one’s surroundings through abstraction. His compositions, constructed as portals which at once compress and accelerate time and space, enable the viewer to interact with the creator through pure intention. Rejecting the idea of his paintings as precious luxuries, Rutenberg embraces the act of painting itself as communicative grandiosity.


February 10 - May 20, 2017

The Angst of Alechinsky and Friends: Abstract Expressionist Prints from the Permanent Collection 


This exhibition closely examines the Windows series of angst-ridden lithographic prints produced by Belgian artist Pierre Alechinsky, and highlights a number of additional artists (including Joan Miro, Richard Howard Hunt, Charles Cajori, Georges Braque, Adja Yunkers, and Sister Mary Corita Kent) whose works exhibit equally dissonant imagery. In stark contrast to the equally popular Lyrical Abstraction – a style of art that applied the teachings of Kandinsky, often marked by sumptuous color and harmonious, painterly beauty – the work of Alechinsky and other Abstract Expressionists, as well as that produced by Art Informel groups such as COBRA, incorporated “primitive” design elements and favored restless, fitful compositions.


December 30, 2016 - March 18, 2017


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Through both the visual and language arts, this exhibition addresses the issue of false perception in contemporary society, specifically as it applies to the African American community. The problem of fixation on one or another’s skin color is explored, along with the resulting assumptions and their effects on forcibly labeled individuals. Indeed, this body of work, a collaboration between Detroit-based painter Waleed Johnson and poet Jenai Jackson, seeks to awaken the viewer to the emotional responses conjured by such labels, and implores them to rethink any pre-conceived notions of race. Functioning as personal mementos, these works provide an opportunity to further interpersonal understanding through intimate communication and expression. 


January 28 - February 19, 2017

MAEA Region 11 Student Exhibition 

The Michigan Art Education Association (MAEA) was founded in 1949 to provide networking opportunities and support to visual arts educators, and to define and establish the role of art education within the nation’s greater educational system. Today the MAEA’s mission is to promote quality visual arts education through leadership, service, and professional development, as well as the study and research of art education.

The Saginaw Art Museum is proud to host the 2017 MAEA Region 11 Student Exhibition, which showcases artwork in a variety of media from regional elementary, middle, and high school students. Region 11 is comprised of Saginaw, Gratiot, Tuscola, Huron, and Sanilac Counties.


October 13, 2016 - January 14, 2017

Academic to Ecclesiastical: Architecture in Cambridgeshire, England 

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This exhibition examines the development of religious and academic architecture in England during the late Medieval and early Renaissance periods. Specific examples located in the East Anglian county of Cambridgeshire are considered, with a focus on various edifices from the University of Cambridge, including King’s Chapel and the Trinity College Entrance Gateway, as well as Ely Cathedral, located in the town of Ely. 


October 7, 2016 - January 14, 2017

My View from Behind the Wheel: The Molten Materials of Jeff Blandford

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Colorful, sensual, playful, voluptuous, and undeniably enticing; these are just a few of the readily evident characteristics in the work of contemporary ceramic and glass artist Jeff Blandford. With sources of inspiration including in Dr. Seuss, Jun Kaneko, Dale Chihuly, Charles and Ray Eames, Sandy Skoglund, and Kimbel & Cabus, Blandford’s masterfully crafted work offers a visual experience that at once pays homage to historical design and decoration, while also providing a new and exciting interpretation of the vessel and domestic environment. Indubitably, the oeuvre that Jeff Blandford has established is vast and varied without lacking cohesion, as a love for bright colors, simplified (even retro) forms, and a playful and accessible sensibility ensure its unity.


September 9 - December 10, 2016

Sacred Geometry: The Psychedelic Art of Mark Piotrowski 


Featuring vibrant and complex works centered on the concept of fractal and kaleidoscopic patterning, this exhibition is comprised of enamel on shaped panel paintings by contemporary Bay City, Michigan artist, Mark Piotrowski. Composed of repeating abstract shapes and elastic-like bands of highly saturated color, Piotrowski’s compositions begin with a singular shape that expands upon itself, creating a hypnotic effect and the illusion of infinite depth not unlike the psychedelic art of the late 1960s counterculture. Likewise, Piotrowski’s paintings examine the social and spiritual sentiments inspired by insights derived from psychedelic states of consciousness, while also incorporating sacred geometry, whose principals were employed in the architecture of antiquity, and are based on the human body and those of divine beings.  


July 14 - September 14, 2016

Sketching in the Raw

OFF-SITE EXHIBITION: Red Eye Café | 205 N. Hamilton St. | Saginaw, MI 48602

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This exhibition examines the introspective nature of personal expression and attempts to study the human figure without focusing on formality. Rather than highly refined works of art, these images are the raw results of quick sketches completed in a classroom environment, or loose drawings and self-portraits found in artists’ notebooks and journals. All drawn from life, each work embraces the overt, unfiltered honesty that arises from individual interpretation of a timeless form.

An extension of the Saginaw Art Museum’s education department, this exhibition includes a selection of artists from Saginaw’s historic Old Town, each of whom are regulars at the Red Eye Café, and / or attendees of the museum’s figure drawing studio.


June 24 - August 27, 2016

2016 Great Lakes Bay En Plein Air: Open Class

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Plein Air painting, or painting in the outdoors on location, has been a popular method of creating art since the mid-19th century. Gaining popularity in the Barbizon region of France, this technique remains esteemed in the 21st century. 
Following the completion of the Second Annual Great Lakes Bay En Plein Air Festival in June 2016, this exhibition will serve as a capstone for the works created by artists accepted into the open class. Enjoy the variety of media and works depicting the Great Lakes Bay Region as experienced only En Plein Air.
Open Class Winners:

1st Place: Rosemary Hayes, Willow in the Rain on Dorwood Road, Birch Run, MI

2nd Place: Victoria Scelfo, Wetlands, Saginaw Zoo, Caro, MI

3rd Place: Julia Rohde, Court Street Bridge from Ojibway, Saginaw, MI

Saginaw Area Watermedia Artist Award: Alice Wilsey, Purple Bush, Saginaw, MI

Honorable Mention: Vicki Berry, View of Saint John's, Midland, MI

Honorable Mention: Walda Juhl, Bay City, South End, Munger, MI

Honorable Mention: Karen Constan, Promise/Fulfilled, Saginaw, MI


June 18 - September 3, 2016

2016 Great Lakes Bay En Plein Air: Juried Class

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Plein Air painting, or painting in the outdoors on location, has been a popular method of creating art since the mid-19th century. Gaining popularity in the Barbizon region of France, this technique remains esteemed in the 21st century. 
Following the completion of the Second Annual Great Lakes Bay En Plein Air Festival in June 2016, this exhibition will serve as a capstone for the works created by artists accepted into the juried class. Enjoy the variety of media and works depicting the Great Lakes Bay Region as experienced only En Plein Air.
Juried Class Winners:

Best in Show: Robert Fionda, Kawkawlin Granery, Armada, MI

1st Place: Sharon Will, Neon Signs, Washington Township

2nd Place: David Belling, Mirror ImageCoral Gables, FL

3rd Place: Michael McCleer, Bay City, City Hall, Detroit, MI

Honorable Mention: Tom Tomasek, Falls at Roethke Park, Ovid, MI

Honorable Mention: Cornelis van Spronsen, The Pines, Canton, MI

Honorable Mention: Jill Stefani Wagner, South of Frankenmuth, Saline, MI


June 2 - September 24, 2016

Pre-automotive Design: The Horse and Carriage Prints of Louis Vallet

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Though many would proclaim automotive design a novelty of the 20th century, the story of human transportation is far older than the infamous Model-T. Indeed, the way in which humans travel has been ever evolving since the invention of the first wheel around 3,500 BCE. Over time, the wheel was perfected, and what was once Bronze Age technology morphed into a sophisticated vehicle-like form. Initially designed for the purposes of war and work, the function of these vehicles later shifted, becoming a commodity focused on leisure and convenience. This exhibition, comprised entirely of prints by 19th-century French artist Louis Vallet, examines the development of one such vehicle, the carriage, from 1400 to 1895, before it was replaced by the automobile. 


April 14 - May 28, 2016

Dennis Adomaitis Remembered

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The world became a little less colorful for the passing of Saginaw's Dennis Adomaitis on February 11, 2016. Dennis became an art educator after attending Aquinas College, in Grand Rapids, MI, and later he joined the staff at Freeland High School, where he taught for 37 years with an unconventional style that inspired and touched the lives of many students. In addition to teaching, Dennis and his wife Melodye opened Adomaitis Antiques, an entity that  eventually grew to include a costume shop, appraisal and estate sale services, and even a travel business. With an inspiring zest for life, Dennis was a true community pillar, to whom nobody was a stranger. He had a big heart and an even bigger laugh that made everyone feel welcome and included.

This exhibition, comprised of a selection of his most recent paintings (including some that have never before been exhibited to the public), commemorates Dennis and his contribution to arts and culture in the Great Lakes Bay Region. It has been organized in conjunction with Studio 23 / The Arts Center in Bay City, where additional work by Dennis will be highlighted in the Painters and Potters exhibition of the same dates. 


March 17 - May 28, 2016

Matt Hansen: Disconnected

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The images in this exhibition were selected by the artist for their ability to convey a sense of beauty, drama, elegance, humor, and uniqueness displayed by the various animal species with which we share the planet. Specifically, these photographs depict the everyday moments that go unnoticed by humans who lack exposure to wildlife and nature. In keeping with the spirit of outdoor recreation retailer Cabela’s and their recently implemented “Disconnect Day,” Matt Hansen’s works encourage the viewer to put down their electronic devices and reconnect with nature and their family and friends. Exhibiting clean, sharp, and highly emphasized focal points, Hansen’s photographs capture the awe-inspiring subject of the living world around us, and bring together the elements of composition, light, color, and action to communicate his own joyous emotions experienced when immersed in the great outdoors.


March 11 - June 4, 2016

Crossing Cultures: Belle Yang, A Story of Immigration 

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This exhibition shares the story of Belle Yang and her cultural journey as an immigrant and an artist. Yang tells her story through vibrant paintings that bridge Chinese folk history with American contemporary life. Alongside Yang’s paintings are stories of local immigrants and their complicated journeys of loss, change, remembrance, and love.


February 19 - May 21, 2016

Dawn of the American Century: Defining Imagery 1900-1930


Pertaining to art history and socioeconomic development, the 20th century is often regarded as the “American Century.” From 1900 through the 1930s, American artists generally rejected the modern art styles evolving in France in favor of more representational imagery. Not to suggest a lack of creativity; to the contrary, this exhibition features the work of world-renowned artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Thomas Dewing, E. Irving Couse, William Glackens, Charles Demuth, Peggy Bacon, and Waldo Pierce, and presents them as important precursors to those that came later.


February 9 - March 26, 2016

Maximus Jabbar: Stories of Africa

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February is Black History Month, and SAM is celebrating it with an exhibition featuring work by African American artist Maximus Jabbar. Jabbar is a native of Detroit, Michigan and now resides between Saginaw, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois. He has been earning a living as a freelance artist for the past forty years, and has established himself as an international photojournalist. Aspiring to capture every aspect of the ills that plague society, Jabbar’s work commands attention through the raw essence of its subject matter, and its unpretentious honesty.

This exhibition includes work from two of the photographer’s collections, including “The Road to Ghana,” and “Women of the Mother Land.” 


February 2 - February 21, 2016

MAEA Region 11 Student Exhibition 


This annual exhibition features nearly 100 works from elementary through high school students in various media as well as two- and three-dimensional work by art educators in traditional and non-traditional media. Region 11 includes Saginaw, Gratiot, Tuscola, Sanilac and Huron counties. A selection of artwork from elementary, middle and high school will be chosen to advance to the MAEA State Art Show held in East Lansing.



November 24, 2015 - February 27, 2016

Flint Artist Market


The Flint Artist Market is a 60+ year old organization composed of artists working in a variety of mediums, and this exhibition will serve to showcase their most recent productions. All members actively produce artwork and exhibit throughout the year at select Michigan galleries as well as a number of juried competitions. 


November 11, 2015 - January 30, 2016

War on Form, Harmony in Color: Ilya Bolotowsky & Karel Appel


This exhibition features the work of two prolific 20th-century artists whose styles at once compliment and oppose one another. While Ilya Bolotowski’s compositions embrace a more subtle and controlled sensibility, Karel Appel’s work asserts its presence through dramatically arranged organic forms.


November 7, 2015 - January 7, 2016

Ansel Adams: Masterworks

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This exhibition featured a collection of forty-seven works by Ansel Adams (1902 -1984), which constituted nearly two-thirds of a selection Adams made late in his life to serve as a succinct representation of his life’s work. Called “The Museum Set,” these works reveal the importance Adams placed on the drama and splendor of natural environments that might not have revealed their secrets to the ordinary passing hiker. Included are many of Adams' most famous and best-loved photographs, which encompass the full scope of his work: elegant details of nature, architectural studies, portraits, and the breathtaking landscapes for which he is revered. The exhibition also includes a photo portrait of Ansel Adams by James Alinder.

September 11 - November 19, 2015

Katherine Gonso Mitchell: The Work of a Local Luminary 


This exhibition examines the life and work of local Saginaw artist, Katherine Gonso Mitchell, who rose to prominence within the Great Lakes Bay community, and established a strong working relationship with both the Saginaw Art Museum and Studio 23 in Bay City. Mitchell was well-known for her constant experimentation with new media, and throughout her career, she embraced both 2-D and 3-D forms in her work, including acrylic painting, sand-casted metal sculpture, woodblock prints, watercolor, oil painting, block print collages, and a combination of ceramics and driftwood which results in, as she called it, “serwood” sculpture.


July 22- October 24, 2015

Classicism in Michigan: The Work of Charles Platt 

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New York based Charles Adams Platt was already a renowned architect and landscape designer by the time Clark L. Ring requested a design for his new family home. Along with being the mastermind behind the mansion now housing the Saginaw Art Museum, Platt was also a talented artist and skilled etcher. Comprised of 28 etchings, the exhibition showcases Platt’s works throughout his architectural career, all from the Saginaw Art Museum’s permanent collection.  


July 16- October 17, 2015

Great Lakes Bay En Plein Air: Juried Class  

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Plein Air painting, or painting in the outdoors on location, has been a popular method of creating art since the mid-19th century. Gaining popularity in the Barbizon region of France, this technique remains esteemed in the 21st century. 
Following the completion of the Great Lakes Bay En Plein Air Festival in June 2015, this juried exhibition serves as a capstone of works created by the juried artists accepted into the festival. Enjoy the variety of media and works depicting the Great Lakes Bay Region as experienced only En Plein Air.

Juried Class Winners: 

Best in Show: Alan Maciag, Home at Peace, Midland, MI

1st Place: Jill Stefani Wagner, Celebration Pond, Saline, MI

2nd Place: Sandra Difazio, View from Ojibway Island, Milan, MI

3rd Place: Sharon Will, Contrasts, Washington, MI

Honorable Mention: Cornelis van Spronsen, Saginaw Bay Yacht Club, Canton, MI

Honorable Mention: Janice Dumas, Saginaw Industry, Milfordn, MI

Honorable Mention: Rusty Frentner, Ojibway Park, Ypsilanti, MI


June 26 - August 29, 2015

Great Lakes Bay En Plein Air: Open Class 

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Following the completion of the Great Lakes in Plein Air Festival in June, this exhibition serves as a capstone of works created by the open class artists in the festival. Enjoy the variety of media and works depicting the Great Lakes Bay Region as experienced only in Plein Air!

Open Class Winners: 

1st Place: Rosemary Hayes, Water Lily Pond on Townline Road, Birch Run, MI

2nd Place: Jody McDonald Rider, On the Ridge, Midland, MI

3rd Place sponsored by the Martineau Family Foundation: Joyce A. Bailey, After the Rain, Ypsilanti, MI

Honorable Mention sponsored by Absolute! Building Management: Walda Juhl, Morning on Center Ave, Munger, MI

Honorable Mention sponsored by Donna Branch-Cottrell: Susann May, Marshland, Birch Run, MI

Honorable Mention sponsored by Fralia’s: Kim "Kwaz" McKerracher, Water’s Edge, Goodrich, MI

Honorable Mention sponsored by the Martineau Family Foundation: Marguerite Ann Bronson, Backyard on State Street, Saginaw, MI

Excellence in Watermedia sponsored by the Saginaw Area Watermedia Artists: Becca Brown, Otter Habitat, Dearborn, MI

Student Class Award sponsored by Saginaw Artists Guild Award: Jessica Harvey, Up the Tree, Saginaw, MI


June 11 - July 11, 2015

1977.7Preserving and Perservering: A Japanese Community Collaboration 

In a community partnership with the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum and The Japanese Cultural Center, Teahouse and Garden, Preserving and Persevering is the Saginaw Art Museum’s addition to a summer of programming and understanding. On loan from the Japanese Cultural Center, this exhibition displays 14 Japanese woodblock prints. These prints were displayed in conjunction with the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum’s exhibition: Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams.


April 21 - June 15, 2015

Matisse: The Art of Drawing with Scissors 

A Saginaw Art Museum Cut-Out Workshop led by Cinda Schantz.


April 3 - June 27, 2015

6. The Most Unkindest Cut 2Edward Koren: The Capricious Line   

Celebrating a five-decade span of the career of renowned cartoonist and graphic satirist, Edward Koren, this exhibition presented works drawn from more than 1,000 cartoons and covers published in The New Yorker. Koren’s art concentrates on drawing and the imaginative worlds it can unveil and record. Through this impressive collection of work, Koren shares the sheer fun and joy of drawing with his audiences. Koren’s “capricious line” articulates the neurosis of contemporary society with a distinctive drawing style, relatable characters, and wry criticism.








March 13 - June 6, 2015

1998.9.234Strolling through Paris Circa 1890 

Strolling through Paris ca. 1890 featured silver gelatin print photographs from the Saginaw Art Museum's Permanent Collection and was designed as an exploratory stroll through France’s capital city just before the turn of the 20th century. The 25 photographs that were on display were arranged in order by the monuments' respective location, creating a simulated walking through the streets – enjoy Paris!


March 3 - April 15 2015

SVSUBFAShowIconSVSU BFA Seminar Exhibition

This exhibition featured the works of five fine art students from Saginaw Valley State University who had enrolled in the Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) Seminar class. The course acts as a capstone for all students in the major, and is required for graduation. Included is a survey of the business of being a professional artist, health and safety concerns associated with art making, and discussions on exhibition, gallery, and studio design. Additionally, the course covers museum-related topics such as art writing, grant writing, and legal and marketing considerations.

A major requirement of the class is for students to organize a local exhibition in which their own artwork is displayed. While the Saginaw Art Museum is proud to have sponsored thi show, students were held responsible for its setup and advertisement as required by the assignment. The resulting exhibition featured a variety of media, including prints, photographs, and ceramic sculpture.



 February 4 - February 23, 2015


The exhibition featured over 100 works from elementary through high school students in various media as well as two- and three-dimensional work by art educators in traditional and non-traditional media.  Region 11 includes Saginaw, Gratiot, Tuscola, Sanilac and Huron counties. A selection of artwork from elementary, middle and high school will be chosen to advance to the MAEA State Art Show held in East Lansing. 



January 6 - February 28, 2015


GabriellaalmaGabriella is a graphite drawing by artist Armin Mersmann. Mersmann entered this piece into ArtPrize 2014 and took 4th place in the 2D category. ArtPrize 2014 include 1,536 entries representing national and international artists. Over 400,000 visitors cast 398,714 votes over the 17 day event. The piece will be on view at the Saginaw Art Museum in the Garden View Room from January 6 - February 28, 2015. 


From the artist: Gabriella intrigues me as a bit of a conundrum: a woman in the prime of her young age, poised, timeless, and vulnerable. The complexity and rhythm of the hair fascinated me, but I think her story emanates from her eyes, which reach deep into a more mysterious place. My work has been about nature taking back and this drawing is no exception. It is the beginning of the process when all is right with the world, yet the slow effects of aging have begun. Whether I'm drawing trees or the human form, I celebrate the cycles of time in nature. I have been drawing the human face for 40 years; I have marveled at the aging skin and the breadth of textures that give a hint of a life lived. My goal as a realist is to understand complexities and details; my interest is how the human eye perceives, not how a camera sees. I transform - not just translate - what I am observing. When I complete the work I develop an understanding of the subject that's both universal and deeply personal. 


About the Artist: Armin Mersmann's is an Artist in Residence and Art School Manager at the Midland Center for the Arts. Born in Remscheid, Germany, Mersmann immigrated with his parents to the United States at a young age. Mersmann grew up in an artistic environment, heavily influenced by his father who was a successful oil painter. Mersmann's work has been shown in over 150 exhibitions regionally, nationally, and internationally. 


View more of Mersmann's work here.