What a great year it has been at The Women’s City Club this year. I am so honored to be a part of such a great venue which had 27,400 visitors for ArtPrize! Attendance for this venue was up 50% from last year. I see this as evidence that curator Fred Bivens has a great talent for assembling excellent art that speaks individually and as a body of work. This is the first show ever where I got a little misty as we were taking our work down. I have been humbled to be a part of a show with this caliber of artists. Not only do these people have amazing minds, I have found over the last couple weeks of getting to know them that they all have amazing hearts as well .
I had a wonderful evening at the Women’s City Club for the opening of ArtPrize 2014. This place was hopping with many art lovers, artists and media. It was so exciting to see the exhibit complete and also to meet some of my fellow exhibiting artists. I wasn’t terribly surprised when I learned that the two other artists I clicked with immediately are also photographers showing in the same part of the gallery as me. I really have a feeling that this year at ArtPrize is going to be the best yet.
The months of September and October are always my busiest of the year. I am just coming off of a week long photo shoot for the company I work full-time for, and this morning I was tying up some loose ends downtown.
I took the opportunity to take in the preview opening of the ArtPrize hub which was from 9-noon. My daughter came with me, and together we took it all in. A large store, early voter registration, free cider and donuts along with a gallery showing of the last two ArtPrize winning works of art… It was a lot going on in a small space, and it was excellent.
I just had the most surreal experience over at the old Public Museum where sitelab has set up shop for ArtPrize. This is a building I used to visit often in my childhood. My mom liked to take me there and I had the annual school trip. I don’t think I’ve been in here since I was about 10 years old, and it has been closed to the public for most of the time while the new public museum has been open. Not only was it so strange to see that most of the things I remember about that building are still there, most of it is totally untouched. It is like a time capsule from my memory brought right back into this physical world.
I was not the only one who was feeling this way, I overheard a lot of descriptive words about other peoples’ experience, “spooky, strange, weird…” I even heard a woman say, “I’m just a little freaked out right now.”
The way the artists in this venue worked with what was already existing here is what heightens the surreality of it all. I can’t quite decide if my childhood memories made this experience more or less crazy for me. The art here is really amazing and absolutely worth looking at. This is one of 5 venues nominated for the “Best Venue” award, and I am happy to say that I agree with that whole heartedly.
I left with over 150 photos. I was there for a little over an hour. I chose just a few to show here. You really have to see this place to believe it.
So I am walking down the street and yet another artist is standing there handing me his promo card. I always take them because I get it – exposure to this extent for an artist is not an everyday occurrence for most of us. Instead of continuing on with my walk I paused to talk to the guy. He reminds me of a long lost friend. It is at that moment that I look at the card and realize that this is THAT guy. The one who hung the male figure from the wire strung between two buildings.
I have had mixed feelings about Henry Brimmer’s piece since the first moment I saw it. Honestly, the first time I saw it I rolled my eyes. This is the type of stuff that always makes it to the top ten. The masses that come downtown on the weekends eat this stuff up because it is very visible and entertaining to look at.
“Is that a bad thing?” This is what I am wondering as he starts talking to me. “I showed at GRAM last year and I saw the glazed look on people’s faces after 15 minutes of looking at everything. You are never going to win if you do art like that.” He continued on like this for a bit and I quickly realized that this guy’s motivation is to make some money and win this thing.
So here is a perfect example of the frustrating part about ArtPrize. People are attracted to this type of stuff, but I don’t hold that against them. The artists who view ArtPrize as something to win instead of simply doing art for art’s sake I do struggle with. Yes, it is a contest, but this really isn’t how I would want to win it.
ArtPrize is all about exposing interested people to a thought they may have never had before. If someone lets their mind go and all of the things around them disappear for one second so that all they are interacting with is the thought that I temporarily put in their brain, I have succeeded.
I was just wrapping up our conversation with him when a group walked by and a woman said, “I LOVE your art!” he looked at me with a raised eyebrow “I am not ashamed of what I am doing here, but people tell you they love it you should be worried.”
I made some time last night to walk through the Grand Rapids Art Museum. This is a really popular venue and as ArtPrize goes on, it gets more and more difficult to get in without waiting in a huge line. Last night was great. It was early enough that it wasn’t packed, and a lot of the artists were present. I loved the casual atmosphere of the museum. This is one of the greatest perks of ArtPrize. A lot of the artists are present and approachable.
Being a photographer, I was loving being able to observe the interaction between the artists and the viewers.
I saved my favorite for last. I was immediately struck by Andrew Hawkes’ work, ‘its not my fault’. This hit me on an emotional level from the first time I saw it, and then after reading with the artist’s statement I realized that I identify with a lot of the ideas that the artist used to create the piece. He refers to some of his inspiration deriving from Congo nail figures, “… a nail is driven into a wooden effigy to cement specific events as well as to ward off evil. Interestingly enough it was through the sheer destruction and damage to this figure that positive changes could occur.”
This guy is only 24 years old, but he shows that he has a very old soul.
Thank you to all who stopped by to say hello while I was hanging out at my Venue, The Ledyard Building. I couldn’t help myself while it was quiet earlier in the evening to sneak off and explore this place. It was built in the 1860s and is one of the oldest buildings in the city. It is easy to see that a lot of renovations took place in the 70s and 80s. It is pretty apparent though that the owners of the building really value the history of this place, and I can see that renovations are taking place in certain parts of the building to restore some of its original charm.
I had to take a few minutes to walk around and enjoy some of the other action too.