Story by Natalie Jo Przybyla, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Natalie Przybyla
First step: A crowded street greets you with open arms and food trucks. Second step: Music melts into the voices of Grand Rapids citizens. Third step: Towering sculptures rain colors from the sky as you gasp at the thought of it crashing down upon you. Fourth step: ArtPrize slaps you in the face with beautifully painted, drawn, sculpted, etched, baked, choreographed, melted culture— and you can’t imagine yourself anywhere else.
On Wednesday, September 23, the seventh ArtPrize put a beat in the hearts of Grand Rapids citizens and a beep in the horn of every car. And despite the overcrowded streets and lack of free parking, things seem to be pretty regular at the event this year. A few massive sculptures, a few statements, and a few hundred masterpieces compiled to make for a usually unusual event.
Venues that stuck out included the DeVos Place, the B.O.B., Frederik Meijer Gardens, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and many more. There is no place that is not the place to be in Grand Rapids until after Sunday, October 11, the last day of ArtPrize. Art has taken over the streets, buildings and people. Some dance over the Grand River on the bridges for tips. A few play violins while others shred on stele guitars.
While some look in awe at the pieces, others like Aquinas College alumna, Joyce Lovse, wish it were more like the first year. “People spend too much time looking at the big stuff. Look at this piece,” Lovse said in reference to Shawn Michael Warren’s In a Promised Land, “People never seem to appreciate the paintings.”
In a Promised Land is a piece in the DeVos Place that depicts a painful image of the aftermath of the terrifying Tulsa riots in 1921. Warren was available to speak to Lovse and others about his work and for what it stands. Warren reminded us that there was a Black Holocaust in America and he sees it has become more important for there to be this type of eye-opening piece to be out in the open.
A lighter collection piece in the B.O.B by Hannah Concannon called Faces caught eyes of marvelous makeup lovers. Concannon painted her face everyday for over 470 days and took photos of her ever-changing looks. The photos came together to form a beautiful collection of colors and emotions which represent how someone could push the boundaries of personal appearance.
Concannon made herself one with her art and painted her face with colors from all sides of the spectrum. “I actually used kid’s face paint for most of it. But, you know, it takes a little time.”
Many artists like Concannon spent months or even years on their work in hopes of it paying off during ArtPrize. The winners of the event will be announced on Friday, October 9. If you want to know what else will be going on downtown the next few days, go on www.artprize.org/events or download the app on your smartphone. And, hey, if you happen to miss the buzz this year, ArtPrize 8 is just over the bridge.
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