Keep up on the latest and greatest Grand Rapids happenings here. Check back often – this city is on the move! more
Outdoor Summer Concert Series at Meijer Gardens Grand Rapids is passionate about the arts, and nowhere is t...more
Need some in-person inspiration for your Grand Rapids story?... more
Rob Bliss announces ArtPrize project: release of 100,000 paper airplanes from downtown Grand Rapids rooftops
Related Document: RobBlissAnnouncementForArtPrize_Aug201.pdf
original source: The Grand Rapids Press
by Rachael Recker | The Grand Rapids Press
Thursday August 20, 2009, 10:00 AM
GRAND RAPIDS -- Put on a big, international art event downtown, attach a big monetary prize to it, and you're sure to attract all kinds of artists, even a 20-year-old college kid known for a zombie walk, pillow fight and electronic music festival.
This morning, Grand Rapids Community College student Rob Bliss -- the mastermind behind many popular community events in downtown Grand Rapids -- announced he is one of 1,262 competitors in ArtPrize, a competition running Sept. 23 through Oct. 10 in Grand Rapids with prizes totalling $449,000.
The 20-year-old is planning to release 100,000 paper airplanes from the rooftops of downtown buildings at 1 p.m. Sept. 27 as part of ArtPrize, he was to announce officially this morning at a news conference in Rosa Parks Circle.
Bliss is calling his event "The 100,000 Paper Planes and Melodies Over Monroe Project."
"I was really inspired by ArtPrize," he said. "I remember sitting and hearing about what (ArtPrize creator) Rick DeVos was announcing and thought, 'Oh my gosh, this is amazing. These people are pushing what's possible in Grand Rapids. They're trying their best to accomplish that. And if this is their best, what is my best, and how can I push myself to do something great?'"
Exactly 100,000 paper airplanes in the seven colors of a traditional rainbow will be released in a ballpark wavelike fashion from rooftops of several buildings along Monroe Avenue.
Bliss is asking individuals of all ages to whistle, sing or use an instrument of any kind to perform, in unison, Sigur Ros' "Olsen Olsen."
The indie band's tune is Bliss' all-time favorite.
"It's just a very triumphant, beautiful melody. It's just massive, and it's perfect for this event," he said.
He is hoping local educators attend with their student choirs, marching bands and orchestras to perform the song, while thousands of paper airplanes float from the sky in a moment of musical and aesthetic beauty.
The Grand Rapids Community Foundation is funding the rain-or-shine event.
Grand Rapids-based Creo Productions will film the event in a documentary style to be aired within Bliss' venue space at the Old Federal Building, 155 N. Division Ave.
He anticipates at least 5,000 will participate "to come together in this once -in-a-lifetime event that's really going to be something truly beautiful and astounding ... that has never been done before and probably never will be done again.
"It's really the most massive undertaking. I've been working on this for half a year. I would do anything for this event," he added.
Bliss said four assistants from each rooftop will fling king-sized sheets of paper airplanes into the air every five minutes for a half hour.
He is counting on volunteers and participants to help clean up. He figures children will want to keep them as souvenirs.
Some details need to be worked out, such as closing Monroe Avenue NW, but Bliss said most aspects have been approved.
He said he was able to keep his entry and identity a secret by registering under a pseudonym.
"Anyone can change their name and call themselves whatever they want on the Web site," Bliss said. "Most people are trying to get attention and not be secretive."
He also doesn't plan to use his contingent of Facebook and other social media followers to his advantage by sending out announcements to vote for his event.
"I'm not going to be trying super hard in a cheesy manner for people to vote for me," Bliss said. "If people like it, they'll vote for it, and that's what matters.
"The work will speak for itself."
E-mail the author of this story: email@example.com