´¯`•. October 06, 2016

ArtPrize 2016!


Although in it’s eighth year, this was only our second time going downtown to the world’s largest art competition.  ArtPrize is enormous – 1500+ pieces of art, sprawled all over the city: on the lawns, in the parks, inside the businesses, and throughout public venues.  People come from all over the place to see the art – I heard that Ripley’s Believe it or Not was looking , this year, too!

Last year, we did it wrong.  We decided to go last minute, and went on a weeknight.  There’s NO WAY you can see much of the art in one evening – and it’s even worse when you choose to go on Voting Night – when the city is just packed.  So this year, Brian took the day after our anniversary off, and we went during the first week, and took a whole day.  We still skipped over half of the venues, but we ended up walking about six and a half hours (five miles?) to see the art.


We started at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, because there was one planetarium show left that we hadn’t seen (ending two days later), and I really wanted ALL of us to go to it – it was called ‘360 Spacepark Extreme’… and basically it was an I-Max style rollercoaster experience, but each coaster was on a different planet, so you experienced dodging particles in Saturns’ rings, or the craters of the moon.  It. Was. Phenomenal!  I’ve never been on anything so thrilling.  It was one of those things where you did it, and wished there were time/people to TELL about it, y’know?

Brian had his first experience with Artprize school groups, at the museum.  We’d seen them on Tuesday, _00000000001_so we weren’t surprised by the 30+ busses lined up downtown, with kids screaming and running, clogging the sidewalks and entrances to everywhere, being generally obnoxious.  Brian, however, was absolutely speechless.  “Look at them all!  They should be in school.  They’re acting like idiots.  Where’s the supervision?  This is tax dollars, educating kids… not.”  He wasn’t impressed with our nation’s offspring.  (Neither am I.  Shhhh.)  Luckily, school groups start packing up and leaving around one, so it was only for a little while.  But wow, what a madhouse.  I’m not against children experiencing the art downtown, at all… I’m against them doing it as a school outing, instead of with their families.  It’s all free and runs two weeks – there’s no reason the parents can’t take their kids.

15901582-largeBack to our trip!  I’m anal.   I go on-line, look at the 1500 art pieces, and put together a list of what we want to see and where it is.  Then I take that list and put together a map, and from there, an itinerary for our trip.  We know where we want to go, and in what order.  I try to weed out the banal or dark things.  I try to mix up the mediums and themes.  It’s… intense.  But here’s the map.  We walked to everything except the two northern-most locations, and the three furthest right.


Starting at the GRPM, we went next door to the Holiday Inn, then across to the GR Ford Presidential museum.  My favorite art was here, as well as some of the most thought-provoking.  If I were to choose one venue you couldn’t miss, it’d be inside and on the grounds surrounding the GR Ford museum.  This, BTW, is where Presidential candidate Donald Trump came to see the art, only one day after us!

I’m gonna completely bombard you with photos,
and drag you on a ‘tour’ of Artprize with us!

img_8053-344x444At the GR Ford Presidential Museum.  This is made of crocheted tubes, done by two women who came from Poland to feature their art.  We also met a woman from the Czech Republic who entered Artprize, and was there to show her work.

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This was probably my favorite piece at GR Ford.  This picture is made completely of died, used toothpicks.  Brian says it’s “controversial”, because it’s reported the picks have blood and saliva as part of the art.  (!?!)  I still love it – it’s beautiful and ingenious… and painstakingly done.

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More GR Ford art… animals made completely out of aluminum foil
and a rug entry that I hear is a favorite with the judges.  It is pretty eye-catching.

img_8071-444x333At DeVos Hall… there seems to have been an influx of art from Marquette and Gwinn, the towns in the U.P. that I grew up near.  It was startling to see an entire wall of entries from ‘home’.  This is made up of punched colored paper circles.


Sorry… I’m just a wood girl.  And a nature girl.  I loved this.  LOVED it.


Supposedly there are seven tormented women in the smoke. Can you find them?
(Probably not from this angle.  I only found five, head-on.  Shhh.)


This was the favorite at DeVos.  Lit from below, it’s just a board full of wood, cut at angles.  Lit from above?  It becomes a masterpiece (also Mona Lisa and MLKing, Jr. featured).


In order to win the votes of the public, many of the displays are hands-on.  The artist put together a little example of his technique for people to touch, beside his ‘portrait’ of a woman’s back.  This was made of 9000 stainless screws.  It’s amazing what people’s creativity leads to, isn’t it?

img_8107-333x444At 5/3rd Bank… Some of the art is BIG.


Some is whimsical, like this faerie my Lydia loved.

Some make a political statement.  Also at 5/3rd… I was surprised.


The absolute favorite of our family.  Entitled ‘Victory’, these are made entirely of chairs, and constructed – believe it or not – by an elderly woman in a wheelchair, if I read that right.  My kids called them Transformers.  They were THAT big, too.  The pictures don’t do them justice.


A little story:  We listen to Lindsey Stirling often – she’s a violinist who incorporates techno into her music, and she’s really very good, if you’ve never heard of her.  My kids’ favorite song is ‘Crystallize’ – it has ‘Transformer’ sounds in it.  So imagine their absolute delight to walk in and see these, and hear Lindsey Stirling’s Crystallize playing in the background!  They were thrilled.


If I had to pick a winner, it’d be ‘Victory’.
If we could pick only one thing for people to see?  This would be it.

img_8128-555x416My kids love looking at all of the art  This and ‘Victory’ were at the Hilton, btw.


It’s a good thing it’s not real!!


These are by a Kendall Art School senior – it’s her thesis project.  The first is a 3-D version of her painting, for the visually impaired to enjoy.


As a statement about homelessness, ‘EMOH’ (<< home backwards) is made from demolished houses in Detroit and Cleveland, and the artist is living in it for the duration of ArtPrize.  He’s very vocal about his cause.


Moving on to the B.O.B (downtown bar venue)
Completely drawn from straight lines.  I loved this one, too.


This was seriously moving… huge and almost tangibly hot!


We walked (!!) down to Park Street Church.  This is the art piece that Ripley’s Believe it or not is interested in, and that’s the ONLY reason I photographed it.  It’s coated entirely with ‘wasp spit’  (<< nests).  If it were a wasp, it would’ve been amazing.  As an alien, it’s just tacky, IMHO.

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Many of the artists are eager to share their work and details.  This man’s sculpture is made out of recycled telephone poles.  It’s amazing the detail they put into their work, and the colors and ideas…!


This was one of the biggies I wanted to see, and she was in a bar somewheres downtown in the dark.  I had to steal the picture from on-line, because it was impossible to get a good look at her.  But she’s painted to look like our state stone, the petoskey.


Photo op, as we head back to the car.  And look – they’re still smiling!


Grand Rapids Public Museum.  Pretty, yes?img_8216-444x333

We drove to the Women’s City Center.  It was PACKED with art – including a carved elderly man in a grandfather clock ‘box’.  His eyes ticked back and forth, his moustache was the clock hands, and he was… insanely difficult to photograph.  If you want to see him, he’s ‘Father Time‘.  Otherwise, this was my favorite at the WCC.  It’s called “on the seventh day, she rested”.  And yes, I do!


Headed over to Peaches Bed & Breakfast, we found a pair of dragons made entirely of farm equipment (and some miscellaneous found around the farm).  The artist lives two blocks from where we drive for Homeschool group, ironically!  Anyhow, he was going to fire it up (it belches fire!), but apparently kids played with the knob, and let all his gas out while he was away from the display.  Ah, well!


Photographing a Paper Bag woman!


We were hungry, and I was determined to take the family to Peppinos, because a) they had art I wanted to see [including a 10ft ‘trout’-shaped bicycle], b) I was in the mood for pizza, and c) it’s supposed to be the #1 pizza in Grand Rapids, and we’ve never gone.  We had to park some distance from the joint, but in doing so, we found this!  Who knew such places were in our town!


Peppinos stunned me.  It was wallpapered with TVs… I’ve never in my life…!  Every booth had their own, too!  (And the pizza was GOOD.)  The place was HUGE… Likely because it’s practically across the street from VanAndel Arena (where all the big name stars have their concerts, etc.).  So it was pretty busy, but I liked it – to Brian’s shock.

There were a series of pictures there of Michigan animals, and they were done with pointillism, except that the ink was applied with a tiny handmade stamp carved in the shape of Michigan.  VERY well done, and my picture didn’t turn out (I got a postcard of it – most artists have them under their works).  But you can see them here, if you like.


After supper we drove up to the City Water Building.  Most important thing to know about ArtPrize:  DO NOT TAKE CHILDREN to the City Water Building.  The place felt wrong.  You walk in, and it’s dark… not physically, just… it feels like something seeping into you.  Almost all of the art is disturbing – from a room completely full of dripping hearts to another room full of paintings of anguished naked people.  It’s… creepy.  This locker room full of rotating mobiles had odd French narration going on.  It was very… erm, not right.


More City Water Building art.  Desolate.  Dispairing.  Disturbing.


And a little creepy, in an undefinable way.  There were rooms we kept the kids away from, entirely.  It probably didn’t help that it was getting dark by the time we got there.  My kids were severely wigged by this place and it’s art.


In the photos, they were shown on grassy hills and park benches, and they looked really kewl.  In the City Water Building?  THey just looked evil and creepy.

Our day didn’t end on a dark note, though – we’d saved the kids’ favorite venue for last.  This place hosted Smaug the felted dragon, last year, and this year we were told this year it was to be Artie, the little felt dragon… but he would be accompanied by gnomes, fairies, trolls, animals, and a whole changing fantasy world.  The kids were excited to see it.


The venue even had ‘I spy’ sheets for the kids to find things in the magical world.  So it was a good ending to a LONG, busy day of amazing and unusual art… and a LOT of walking!

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