Sunday, September 30, 2012

ArtPrize Tips

If you are planning on visiting ArtPrize, here are some tips we gathered from our trip ...

ArtPrize 2012 has 1517 entries, 161 venues, and $560,000 in total prizes. It is a big event and a lot of people will suggest that you make your trip at least 5 days long so you can cover as many of the venues as possible. But in our experience, 2 afternoons were plenty.

If you live within driving distance of Grand Rapids, Michigan, drive! Make it a road trip and enjoy the fall foliage on your way there! You'd be happy to know that city is equipped with plenty of parking spaces with very reasonable daily rates. We parked downtown for $9/day. What this means, is you can feel comfortable with staying at a hotel further away from the ArtPrize venues. We stayed in Wyoming, MI, approximately 15 minutes away.

Avoid visiting ArtPrize on the weekends. The weekday crowd was large enough. We didn't have problems getting into the Grand Rapids Art Museum or any of the larger venues, but we did have to contend with children on school excursions. On a similar note, indoor venues open from noon to 8pm. If you can, visit those early so you can avoid the after-work crowd. Don't miss the UICA, High Five @ Riverfront Plaza, and the Federal Square Building.

Some of the best works are outdoors, so put on your comfy shoes and be ready to walk! You can choose a 3, 6, or 9 mile route that will take you around the three square miles of art. We tried doing the 6 mile route our first day there, but we quickly got off track and just ended up wandering around. This is to say, just focus on having fun; you don't have to worry about getting lost! If you are not up for walking, you can always take unlimited rides on the ArtBus and/or the Rapid that will take you to the different ArtPrize venues. It cost just $5 for two to ride. You can also get to the Frederik Meijer Gardens on the ArtBus Meijer Gardens Shuttle.

If you're interested in seeing artwork in restaurants, go during off peak hours so you can better access those pieces. We found that several of the smaller locations feature local artists and mostly 2-D work (good and bad). Treat it like a tapas menu, eat an appetizer, grab a drink, and move on to the next location!

If you have extra time, pay the admission fee when you are at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park and go enjoy the awesome space. We wish we got to do that, and I'm sure we will fit it in our plans next time!

ArtPrize Recap: Part 2

ArtPrize is the brainchild of Rick DeVos. What's truly unique about this event, is that anyone over the age of 18 can apply to show and any venue within a 3 square-mile radius of downtown Grand Rapids can be an exhibition space. Then artists and venues are matched up to put on their own show.  What this results in, is a giant mishmash of good and bad art.

We've reviewed the good pieces we loved, so now for the "bad" and the ugly ...

First up, the unoriginals and the copycats that make you wonder if imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery:

The Chase vs. Cai Guo Qiang's Head On
John Merigian vs. Alberto Giacometti
Greg Rawls vs. Dale Chihuly
the "van Gogh"s
Jessica Bohus, Running on Air vs. Alexander Calder
the "Calder" mobiles; original on bottom
Russell Parker, An American Journey vs. Jasper Johns, Flag
Jennifer Jones, Composition vs. Kandinsky Composition VI
the sentimental (Zach calls these "human emotional vomit") ...

the WTH?!!

Terry Ryder, Cultural Planet
Hmmmm ... I can easily recreate a similar picture using my iPhone Tiny Planets app ... for example, 

downtown Pittsburgh, PA
Helix Bridge, Singapore
and finally, the controversial ...

Artist SinGH, Captivity
If you go to the outside space at The B.O.B, you'll see a huge, empty white cage. Artist SinGh, who calls himself the world's best "stunt painter,"  has abandoned his piece after the owner of B.O.B removed his work before the opening of ArtPrize. SinGH's initial concept was to hang different pieces in his cage each day for the duration of the show. All of his topics are challenging, ranging from suicide, bestiality, to politics. His first piece was an effigy of Saddam Hussein hanging from a noose. You can read more about this piece here.

The other controversial piece is graffiti, Vandalism, by an artist who has chosen to keep his/her identity secret a la Banksy.

Apparently this person has been spraying several different stencils of President Gerald Ford under an overpass along I-196 long before ArtPrize.

All previous images, deemed vandalism, were painted over by the Michigan Department of Transportation, but since this one is connected to ArtPrize, it has been allowed to stay. You can view this piece on the side of The B.O.B.

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.

happy birthday and happy mid-autumn festival

Yes, another September birthday! :)

Happy Birthday to my dad! We never go more than 3 days without talking to each other, but yet he reads the blog everyday to find out what's going on in our lives. So if you're reading this Dad, we're wishing you a happy brand new year filled with good health and great joys! To everyone else reading this, Happy Mid-Autumn Festival. According to the lunar calendar, this is a time of harvest. The Chinese believe the moon will be at its biggest and brightest tomorrow night so remember to take a peek outside at dusk!

Here are a few photos I stole from Leon's Facebook page because I miss lanterns, mooncakes, and the festivities in Singapore ...

Chinatown, Singapore

Friday, September 28, 2012

robo-bombing ArtPrize

We decided it would be fun to have the robots grace ArtPrize so we boldly robo-bombed several locations!

First day, first location: in Rosa Parks Circle with the Grand Rapids Art Museum in the background
First day, second location: 6th Street Bridge Park
Second day, first location: outside the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art (UICA)
robots at the UICA
Second day, second location: outside the B.O.B, by the graffiti piece titled Vandalism

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