2011.10.05 The art is everywhere

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

You must come along this time, my wife told me. You can get a column out of it. Maybe a feature story.

I need some incentive to give up an entire day of work. We’ve been drastically late getting to the printer the last two weeks and I didn’t see how a 13-hour adventure was going to help that situation.

I agreed to go, knowing that it might help with the paper, and also because I really wanted to see the famous ArtPrize event in Grand Rapids, Mich.

ArtPrize presents nearly three weeks of art displayed everywhere in downtown Grand Rapids. Anyone can enter if they pay the $50 fee and arrange for a venue to display their work. The judges who decide how the $475,000 in prize money will be divvied up are the 200,000 people who visit the festival. Just common louts like you and me who don’t know what makes good art; we just know what we like.

There are some juried awards from a panel of experts, but the big money is distributed with the understanding that the winner might not be the one who created the best art. That’s not the purpose of the event.

Instead, organizers believe that art is important and that there’s no better way to prove that than by putting it on display and letting thousands of people interact with it. Look at it, laugh at it, be amazed by it, talk to the artist about it. 

Organizers describe it this way: The prize is not a reward for the most important achievement. It is the world’s largest excuse to get creative and try something new.

We departed Saturday morning and I got to work in the back seat. I was allowed to quietly write news stories on the 150 mile trip and I was told that the hostess in the front seat had even offered to remain silent. I didn’t want that, but it would have been impossible anyway. She gave an impressive, two and a half hour lesson in social intercourse that will not be forgotten.

Our first stop in Grand Rapids was a venue without art. Well, not exactly. Was I extra hungry or was the Nantucket Baking Company’s cherry galette one of the best-tasting items ever to enter my mouth?

Fully sugared up from the bakery, we drove on downtown, parked, and walked through the Amway Grand Plaza hotel where we had our first close-up visit with an ArtPrize entry.

In the lobby stands Christine Mikowski’s life-size paper maché sculpture of a woman holding a bird. Inside the bird is a miniature twirling ballerina. There are leaves in the woman’s hair, spiders crawling on her fingers, wonderful colors of the woods. I liked this creation. It was a wonderful piece of art.

Inside a gallery we encountered Joseph Kearney’s incredibly detailed model of the Andrea Doria ocean liner. Nine feet long!

The Amway’s 29 displays spilled outside where we found the first of many works using recycled stuff. It was Terry Brennan’s assemblage of common objects called “Dumpster Diver.”

Nearby at the DeVos Place convention center—a work of art in itself—we visited the first of the Top 10 entries, based on voting from the first week of the competition.

Mia Tavonatti is a repeat Top-10 artist, appearing this year with a 9x13-foot glass mosaic of the Crucifixion. The big venue of DeVos allows for big pieces, such as Richard Shipps’ 67 foot long cut paper work spread across the end windows on the second level.

We saw a map of the U.S. made out of iron skillets. We passed wooden bears climbing around the Gerald Ford Museum fountain. We saw the huge metal dog and the enormous dreaming praying mantis. There was a field of sunny flowers made from water bottles and a cluster of glass hands mounted on sticks. There were large, iron monkeys hanging from an old bridge. Beaded sculpture, brass sculpture,  enormous dead starlings.

And so it went for six hours and we saw only a fraction of the more than 1,500 entries. It’s art everywhere. The good stuff, the silly stuff, the head-scratching stuff. It’s an amazing event.

I didn’t register to vote and now I’m unable to take part in choosing a winner. Instead, I give my vote to the cherry galette.  A clear winner in my mouth.

  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016