ArtPrize 2012

Since it began 3 years ago, I haven't missed an ArtPrize. I visit with kids, without kids, with friends and visitors, and alone.

I always like to visit the popular venues, like the Ford Museum and The B.O.B., but I also love stumbling across a new-to-me venue, or a piece of art I haven't already heard about and absolutely love. There's something to the discovery that's just so, well, ArtPrize-y.

This year ArtPrize mapped out 3 routes for visitors to try a 3-mile, 6-mile, and 9-mile walk. Choosing between the 161 venues and over 1500 art entries can be daunting, so my husband and I decided it would be nice to follow a pre-marked path this time around. We also saw a few venues we probably wouldn't have seen otherwise.

I like to walk for exercise and, of course, I didn't expect walking 3 miles of ArtPrize to go as quickly as if I were walking the dog. On the other hand, I didn't expect it to top 4 hours. There's just so much to see!

We started our ArtPrize adventure at Meijer Gardens, where we purchased an ArtPrize Guidebook that includes all 3 routes ($5). We also purchased orange wristbands ($5 for 2) which allow us to hop on ArtPrize shuttles or take the Rapid downtown from Meijer Gardens (and participating Meijer stores) for the duration of ArtPrize 2012. My husband was enthralled with the ArtPrize entries at Meijer Gardens, particularly Overseer by Dora Natella (52783). Proving that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I preferred Untitled Blind Bust by Diana Al-Hadid (53209).


Untitled Blind Bust by Diana Al-Hadid
Untitled Blind Bust by Diana Al-Hadid

After perusing the art at Meijer Gardens, we headed downtown to the B.O.B. to begin our 3-mile route. The B.O.B. delivers interesting entrants every year. I particularly liked Scrappie Dick by Paul Cassidy (52362), which is made entirely from scrap metal.

Scrappy Dick by Paul Cassidy
Scrappy Dick by Paul Cassidy

We left the B.O.B. and followed the path down Fulton, Ionia, Commerce, and around to Weston. Art was everywhere! We loved checking out the venues as well as the art - there were so many diverse places and entries.

At the Pyramid Scheme, we saw Hispaniola by Maria Elena Blanco (52527), a photographic series of the Dominican Republic that I fell in love with.

A few streets away, at Rumors Night Club,we saw Gloriosa Daisy Quilt by Debbie Huyett (53302).

Gloriosa Daisy Quilt by Debbie Huyett
Gloriosa Daisy Quilt by Debbie Huyett

We also saw Portraits Painted by an iPad Junkie by Richard Shulman (53298) at Rumors Night Club. Although Shulman's a lawyer-by-day, the self-proclaimed lifelong doodler began drawing on his iPad a couple of years ago. He talked to us at length about the artistic process of drawing using apps and an iPad. Shulman said he's spent thousands of hours working on his art in the last few years. He interacts with, and gets feedback from, other artists on Julia Kay's Portrait Party group on Flickr. "The mobile digital art movement is really taking off," Shulman explained, "because the iPad is a consumer device thats available to everyone."

When we got to Sheldon St., we stopped in to check out the HUB, ArtPrize's all-purpose headquarters. Since I'd already registered to vote, the volunteers there activated my iPhone so I could text my votes in while we walked around. It was well worth the stop! Even if you're already activated, you can stop in to purchase some ArtPrize gear (shirts, hats, and more) or for a much-needed coffee break.

We continued along the 3-mile path until we came to the GR LibraryI love that building and was excited to see the art there, but alas, we were too late--it was already closed for the night. We popped into First (Park) Congregational Church across the street, a venue we've enjoyed in the past.

This year was no different. We've long admired Todd and Brad Reed's photography and their series, Tuesdays with Todd and Brad Reed (53468), is a scenic wonder. "We spent every Tuesday for a year, sunrise to sunset, shooting this series," explained Todd Reed. "If you love Michigan shoreline photography, these magnificent shots are a don't miss!"

A few more blocks took us to MoDiv, where we wandered through several venues. The Wolverine Company Store offered visitors champagne and delicious dark chocolate, which we enjoyed, and as we neared the back of the venue, we found Jennifer O'Meara's stunning painting of an old farm, Holding Out (52331):


Holding Out by Jennifer O'Meara
Holding Out by Jennifer O'Meara

O'Meara and her husband told us that they often drive around the countryside looking for barns that would make ideal subjects for her paintings. This barn, they told us, was different--they knew about it and planned a day-long photography visit. When I asked O'Meara if there were really windmills in the background, she laughed. She explained that her initial idea was to use them for the color contrast. She became more interested when she heard about the controversy along our lakeshore regarding windmills in Lake Michigan. "The fence is there for a reason," O'Meara said. "That's why the piece is called Holding Out."

After that lovely visit, we continued our walk and as we approached the end, we detoured a bit to see the entries in the Grand Rapids Art Museum. In a word: stunning.

There was this masterpiece, Elephants by Adonna Khare (52795):

Elephants by Adonna Khare
partial shot of Elephants by Adonna Khare

Chris LaPorte's City Band 2012(52204) is another fantastic drawing.

One of my personal favorites, Cities Departure and Deviation by Norwood Vivano (53116), was really hard to capture with a photo. The piece is a series of blown-glass and digital renderings that track the change in population of 24 cities throughout time. The blown-glass resemble vases that start out small at the bottom, the beginning, and swell out, and in, with the shifts in population. Look at this one, representing New York City!


New York City, represented in Cities Departure and Deviation by Norwood Vivano
New York City, represented in Cities Departure and Deviation by Norwood Vivano

Just fascinating. And based on data. I loved it.

What about this super cool ceramic piece, Bam Pow by Nathan Craven (53355)?

Bam Pow by Nathan Craven
Bam Pow by Nathan Craven

The Grand Rapids Art Museum also houses it's not my fault (53193) by Andrew Hawkes. Hawkes described to the rapt crowd that he's been confined by panic attacks and anxiety, and he's drawn to art to free himself from his obsessions. "It allows me to focus on something outside of myself," he explained.

These works are just a sampling, a smidgen, of the art we saw along the 3-mile walk. Its a fantastic way to see some art that's off the beaten path, as well as some that's smack dab in the middle. You can't lose.

Just wear your tennis shoes.

And leave yourself plenty of time!