Saturday, September 29, 2012

ArtPrize Recap: Part 1

Get Your Freak On, by Pamela Troyer
I'm going to post a three part series about our experience at ArtPrize. Today i will begin with the good, followed by the ugly (controversy and missteps) and then some tips for finding what you want to see.

The good was very good and actually was the easiest work to find, see, and spend time with. The main spaces for art prize are the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art (UICA), the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM), Frederik Meier Gardens and Sculpture Park, the federal building behind and a part of Kendall College, and the Gerald Ford Museum. These art spaces housed the most progressive and accomplished works. The best of the rest was at the B.O.B (big old building) and High Five at Riverfront Plaza, with several others scattered around various other locations. But the best work was at the museums and arts institutions, and it was a big valley between the quality of the work in the main museum spaces and the other venues. Some of museums were quite crowded, but during the week, manageable.

The UICA is not to be missed and houses the 2 best works in the entire event. A collaborative piece entitled more or less by 4 Chicago-based artists calling themselves ABCD 83 was a standout work. It was a multi-media, multi-dimensional, installation featuring a dynamic video projection and found object construction topped with a strong graffiti and illustrative influence. The work included so many different elements mixed together in an incredibly succinct way. Everything worked like a DJ mixing, splicing, and overlaying. It was just incredible to investigate all the different details and digest all the information in the narrative.

The use of a video projection over 3D forms created a stunning dynamic sculpture that felt very much like a real living space.

On the upper floor was another standout. Martijn van Wagtendonk's Song of Lift is a  mechanically engineered a performance of flying motorized toy birds and it is surreal. The work reminded me very much of the aesthetic we experienced at Carsten Holler's show at the new museum in NYC last January. It was playful and had a very childlike creative curiosity. This was a piece mindy and i sought out. We had seen his earlier pieces from previous years and were excited about his creative process. The piece worked by placing a quarter in a turn-style machine. Then the carousel of flapping began. the performance set to a rising opera was just consuming. It was amazing to stand beneath the flapping toys: like something out of a toy designer's dream.

The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture park is slightly out of the way but definitely worth the drive or bus ride to see. Their exhibit is called Body Double and features sculpture and installation commenting in some way on the figure. Many of the works were out standing, but Lawrence Epps' pile of multiple ceramic cut-out business men, entitled, Human Resources was a favorite.

The best of the rest was Kirkland Smith's Marilyn made of plastic girl accessories and toys and Eric Celarier's Wasteland series, a hand sewn quilt of computer motherboards that resembles a city seen from above. Both of these works can be found at Amway Grand Plaza.

Wasteland IC IV
Mindy and I were excited to see Offering in Celebration of Mostly Grey by Singapore native, Lynne Tan at High Five (Riverfront Plaza). The work is a collection of ceramic bowls holding a gradation of black and white rice. A bit reminiscent of some of lee wen's work we saw in Singapore.

Other works we liked are Junkyard Music Box, playable orchestra of junk by Tom Kaufmann,

Heavy Metal Rock Band, a scrap metal rock n roll concert by Fred Conlon,

some graffiti,

... and bit of controversy (we'll talk about it tomorrow) at the B.O.B.

A great painting is hidden a bit. A work called Exodus to Freedomby Nancy White-Eggen, offers a fun where's Waldo experience mixing church history and the british colonialism. It was fun to go through with the corresponding diagram and find all the historical figures and representations. It made the piece quite interactive. It hangs in a very odd space in the Ledyard Building.

These are just a few favorites from the show. The exhibition centers house the strongest work and be sure not to miss the UICA.

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