During the 1960s and into the next decade, the Amway Corporation of Ada, Michigan, expanded enormously and began to contribute heavily to cultural life in the Grand Rapids area. Jay Van Andel and Richard DeVos, co-founders of Amway and admiring collectors of Armand’s work, began to promote outstanding local artists. They sponsored Armand’s work for two years and also his travels in the American Southwest, travels that afforded him the inspiration for many new paintings. In June 1973 a collection of his works hung on exhibit at the Amway Corporation. In October the exhibit traveled to the May Gallery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. When the contract ended he channeled his work through Grand Rapids galleries such as Gallery Luisa and Hefner’s Gallery and Frame Shop which was operated by Armand’s friend Frank Vander Mark and his wife Mary. His works kept good company alongside original lithographs signed by international stars such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, and Louise Nevelson.
In 1976 an old friend, Kenneth Bergsma, brother of Armand’s former supporter, Julius Bergsma, contracted to represent Armand’s works exclusively in a classy new gallery in the downtown Exhibitors Building. With professional representation Armand won top prizes in the 30 th Annual Exhibition of the Knickerbocker Artists in New York City, the Painters’ and Sculptors’ Competition in New York, and the National Society for Painters in Casein and Acrylic. Even so, Armand felt pressured to create paintings that were more marketable than experimental—which again threatened to stymie his ability to progress as an artist ( VanderMey, 2012).
We are pleased to announce that ‘Western Michigan artist, Armand Merizon, recently received the coveted award for a Traditional Realistic Painting in Oil at the prestigious 30th Annual Exhibition of the Knickerbocker Artists in New York City.'