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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ArtPrize: I'll be there in 2015

For 21 days my "Tiny Cranes" miniature origami entry was displayed in the front window of the Grand Central Market and Deli on Monroe Center NW.


When I showed up the first two days to answer questions about my work ArtPrize visitors let me know that I should be demonstrating how I make cranes. And they wanted to see the size of the square of paper I start with to make such tiny cranes. "This is ArtPrize! We're spoiled!" one lady good naturedly informed me. LOL. I obliged. On day three is when the magic began.


When visitors would see the little dish of unfolded origami paper some of them would ask for a piece, disappear, then return offering me an origami they made.


What began with three origami on day three became. . .


A "Made by ArtPrize Visitors" collection of 43 origami 16 days later! It was the most amazing interaction I never anticipated when I registered for the competition back in April. A lot of people know how to make one thing, and as they handed it to me they'd say "This is the smallest ________ I've ever made" because I'd only brought small 1.5" squares of paper. Some visitors went home and made me things and brought them back later. Others pulled out paper of their own and one grabbed a napkin from the counter and made me a water lily. It was pure magic.

That's my collection. I'm planning to turn them into a mobile to save as my souvenir of my first ArtPrize experience. I'll photograph each one and blog about the mobile once it's done.

The art is a bit stretched due to my use of a wide angle lens.

I was not the only artist hosted at the Grand Central Market. There were 12 of us total. This picture gives you an idea of how people wander in to see the art. They used their cameras to photograph favorite pieces and vote using text messaging and smart phone apps.

But what about beyond the Grand Central Market?

There were two entries that caught my eye when I first looked at every entry on the ArtPrize website.


This was INCREDIBLE. Artist Russ Barragan carved this octopus from a piece of alabaster. For ten years. Seriously. I didn't get to meet him but a woman who had lunch near me did so she filled me in on how long it took him to finish this piece. I told a lot of people to walk over to the Fifth/Third Bank to see it even before I'd had a chance to go see it myself. One boy had on an octopus t-shirt so I figured he'd enjoy it.

There's something about beautifully carved stone that will always evoke Italy and the Renaissance. I didn't need to meet Russ to know he is a true artisan. Congratulations to him on accomplishing such a stunning creation.


The other entry that intrigued me was a painting by artist Eric Wieringa titled "The Leap." I loved it the moment I saw it. The thing is I was drawn to it before I read his Artist's Statement about what the piece symbolized. Once I read it it clicked that I liked it so much. Wonderful how one can connect with art on a visceral level. If this doesn't describe my life, and particularly this year, I don't know what does:

"This painting was intended to depict mans struggle to be free. "The Leap" is a visual metaphor about faith, meant to empower anyone who is pursuing a dream. For me personally, this painting represents my desire to experience a transformation, to escape darkness and live beyond the proverbial grey. This image expresses my belief, that in the midst of overwhelming fear, doubt and uncertainty, great things are possible for those who leap into light."

The only thing that would have made this painting speak even more clearly to me would have been if the person had been a woman with long black hair. LOL


There were other competitors I met along the way but guess what? They weren't competition. They were comrades.

Many came by the market and when they saw me sitting there they introduced themselves. I asked about their entries and when I finally took three days off to visit ArtPrize myself my list of things to see was the art of as many of the artists I'd met in person as I could.

Michael Duran was a standout. His entry was an incredible illustration of ant titled "The Walking Dead." While I can't say I'm really into zombies I was amazed by his attention to detail. Friendly, offering helpful suggestions of how to generate more interest in my entry, and often taking my postcards to put them out where more people would find them, he is a class act and I'm glad our paths had the opportunity to cross so that we could become friends.


Roy Lichtenstein's "Down The Rabbit Hole II" was a whimsical fountain just across the street from the Market. Roy is a man of many talents. Well, at least two that I'm aware of :)


He makes fountains and also made the menu origami elephant I featured on Instagram and made me a star out of two one dollar bills and another elephant out of cute, green, origami paper. I'll feature them both in the future visitor's origami mobile post I mentioned earlier.


I met Brian McNulty early on in the competition but didn't have time to make it to see his entry until almost the end. Until I met him I didn't even realize that songs could be entered in ArtPrize. The St. Cecilia Music Center hosted dozens of musicians who had to enter in the "Time Based" category. It seems like a separate music category would be beneficial as music is very different than other types of performance art. You can read about his entry "Country Alright" and find the link to it on iTunes on his ArtPrize profile page or CLICK HERE to hear a sample and purchase it on broadjam.com.


While not a crane this heron photograph titled "In the marsh" by Patricia VanPortfliet was a must see on my list. The day she dropped by the Market we chatted for a while and it was then that I decided I would go visit the art of every artist I met. It was one of the first pieces I went in search of when I finally took a few days off to tour the ArtPrize district. Hosted at Georgios Gourmet Pizza the pizzeria shots are to give you a flavor of the range of venues where one can view art from restaurants to museums.


I first met the sister of "45 Mickeys" artist Barbie Felsk while they were having lunch at the Market. While chatting with me about the cranes she mentioned her sister had an entry. After lunch she brought her sister over to meet me. She gave me her card and that's what led me to walk a mile to the Boardwalk Condominiums to see her piece that took a year to create comprised of 45 Mickey Mouse silhouettes all hand drawn and detailed.


On the way to the condominiums we passed by a church with an ArtPrize sandwich board on the sidewalk. So we popped in and were treated to multitude of pieces. That's how ArtPrize is. You can see more art on your way to see art.


Later that day we took a break at the Lantern Coffee Bar and Lounge. The business had been yarn bombed both in and outside as well as up and downstairs.


One of the most incredible things we saw wasn't even a part of ArtPrize 2014. This mosaic was on the side of a building facing a parking lot. The face is mirrored. I loved it! When I got home I did a Google search to learn more about it and discovered it was created by Chicago muralist Tracy Van Duinen and his team and was the second place winner of ArtPrize 2011. That it is still there gracing Grand Rapids and enthralling the public is a testament to ArtPrize itself.


While I loved "The Pond" by the Kroeze Krew I couldn't help but want to see it outdoors with a blue sky, or bare naked autumn trees as backdrop behind the individual wooden raindrops. I found the surface of the pond itself mesmerizing. The detail, the "bounce" of the droplets, was so creative and unexpected.


They were one of a handful of other artists that created a "touch" zone. This one was signed for the vision impaired though I suspect curious fully sighted people enjoyed the tactile experience of running their fingers along the swirls of wood just as much.

Congratulations to "Intersections" the People's Choice Grand Prize Winner

Right out of the gate Intersections (top left in the picture above) was a crowd favorite. I did appreciate and experience artist Anila Quayyum Agha's entry and artist's statement:

"In the ‘Intersections’ project, the geometrical patterning in Islamic sacred spaces, associated with certitude is explored in a way that reveals it fluidity. The viewer is invited to confront the contradictory nature of all intersections, while simultaneously exploring boundaries. Continue..."

In all of life there is good and bad. Ugliness and beauty. Her work showed hundreds of thousands of people part of the beauty that represents Islam. Her presentation was flawless and I was happy to receive her message.

I have to give a huge THANK YOU to everyone at the Grand Central Market and Deli, to the artists and visitors who made me feel so incredibly appreciated and welcomed, to Fred for making me the Tori my cranes hung from, to Michelle for coming all the way from Australia to be part of my experience, and to my 7 new Michigan friends and neighbors who made the drive down to Grand Rapids to be able to vote for my Tiny Cranes and see them in person. My first ArtPrize experience was perfect because of all of you!

So next year. . .

Historically there are a select handful of larger venues where, if one's entry is worthy, it has much better odds of making it into the finals simply because of the large volume of visitors that visit them. While many have encouraged me to pursue being hosted at one of those venues next year I have to say after touring them in person I've decided to stick with where I'm happy in a smaller, more intimate, venue where I have the luxury of having one-on-one exchanges with the visitors who take the time to stop and chat.

I've already been invited back to the Grand Central Market & Deli next year and will be there perched in the front window with new sets of tiny cranes most likely depicting cultural icons and holidays of Japan. A lot of people accused me of having "too much fun" and/or "the most fun of any artist at ArtPrize." I'd have to agree with them on both counts. And I'm already ready for more. See you there in 2015!

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