Where Art Thou, ArtPrize?

ArtPrize Seven is upon us, and the Grand Rapidians that we are must accommodate ourselves to the influx of human beings within our city. Thursday, I did so by acting upon that old quote we all know: “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. I explored what some venues had to offer with a lovely human being, but he shall remain anonymous due to my inability to ask this boy if he is okay with me using his name in this post out of the slight, irrational hunch that I would irritate him. My confidence, as you can tell, is overpoweringly strong in these types of situations.

As it were, the latter part of my day revolved around exploring venues with this nice human, which began, of course, at MadCap. I drove downtown once school let out, found an absolutely incredible parking spot that would not surprise me if it happened to be from Christ Himself, and sat down with an adorable little cappuccino to take some notes on The Heart of The Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Nahn  while I waited for the boy to stroll on in.


When he strolled in, he got himself some caffeinated bliss, I tripped over my words due to lack of sleep, a busy week, an academically-packed day, not to mention his presence, and then we looked over the map of ArtPrize venues he had picked up from work. After we realized that the venue map literally just indicated venues and gave no clue as to what we would find where, we packed up and followed the red Pantone arrows to the various pieces.

Our first arrows led us to a building which held recreations of failed tourism billboards-my personal favorite read:


I did not feel the overwhelming need to read the context of the surrounding statement, because the quotation simply stated everything I felt I ever needed to know. I can die happy now; a sentence I could have never fathomed myself has come into existence and is part of an entry in the largest art competition in the world.

The rest of the day’s adventures involved seeing many exhibits inspired by, of, or using, hands.


I agree with the couple near us, who commented that a few colors other than white would have done a lovely job of illustrating the diversity that the artist strove to represent.
The woman who finger-painted this mural was such a joy to speak to. Judith Braun, thank you for never letting your childhood become something you want to be rid of.



I am aware that these are not hands-however, they belong in the collection including the photograph above, and feel as though it would be an artistic crime to disconnect the two. The cup holding the family attached to their feet includes a family tree of sorts, a delicate yet important aspect of the piece.

While, yes, I am aware that most visual art is created with one’s hands, these took the basics to another level.

While we were in the GRAM checking out the entries there, we came across two particular installments of photos that I fell in love with. The artist’s statements were as follows:


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This collection in particular really hit hard-the photos were so simple but incredibly candid. In retrospect, I wish I would have taken a few pictures of the photos themselves to help illustrate my point, but hindsight’s always 20/20.

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This collection was so well done. There was a photo of a young woman with a pair of scissors about to snip off her long locks, words almost-but-not-quite in their frames, and everything was placed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. It was a very busy installment, but the wall space between each frame and the connections the artist would occasionally draw between two pieces was beautiful. I couldn’t pull any additional meaning outside the artist’s statement from her work, which either means she explained her work completely, or I have a lot of work to do when it comes to art analysis. I do wish I could read her calligraphy, however. I would suggest that she offer a translation below her statement, but that would contradict a favorite phrase of mine that offers the maxim that, “Explanation kills art” and I’m not about to be a hypocrite.

Being a long-time passenger on the minimalist movement’s bandwagon, I appreciated a lot of the less formal works of art as well. A brightly lit creation barely sheltered by the shade stated that,


while the pavement I took this photograph from boasted some gorgeous graffiti of koi fish.

IMG_0701 The highlight of the day, however, did not involve art in the slightest. Nor did it involve the boy (you were great, though, I promise. A+, please don’t take this personally). The highlight of the day was the absolutely overwhelming amount of dogs I witnessed strolling around with their owners in the city. There were so. Many. We may as well have a section of ArtPrize dedicated to dogs. DogPrize. Vote for the best dog you see-in other words, all of them will win.


This gorgeous little pup was so polite and so nice. She just walked up and nudged me in a way similar to that of an apologetic child. We spent a few minutes giving her the attention she so rightfully deserved before we went on our merry way.

Now, THIS little ball of cuteness created a void in my cognizance with which I cannot describe it.

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The owner of the Coati was an employee of the zoo who told us about its relation to South American raccoons. The way it was running about lent more of a kitten/ferret mix vibe to it, and I will gladly take three.

The absolute most impressive art I saw that day involved these two kiddos.


Yes, those are two children-one with an accordion and the other with a violin… and they sounded great. I have so many questions for them. When did you start? Are you brothers or friends? Did your parents force this upon you? Where did you find an accordion? Where do you find accordion lessons? WHY AN ACCORDION??? I’m just so impressed.

Yes, ArtPrize seven-or the little I’ve seen of it-is a success. I’m proud to call G-Rap my city, and ohohoho it’s making it hard on me to decide whether or not I want to leave this place when I graduate. The push and the pull of so many places are so strong.

Please try to make it out to ArtPrize this year, even just to look at the dogs or strange, foreign animals-which I do believe involves some of the wacky street performers who have dedicated much of their time to intensifying childhood hobbies into talents and jobs. If you have a favorite venue or piece, please let me know by commenting on this post! It’ll help out this reading community as well as the blogger myself. Let’s culture ourselves silly.

Much love,


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