Story by Miranda Russo, Reporter
Photo courtesy of ArtPrize
Anticipation fills the air as I drive through ArtPrize in downtown Grand Rapids. While searching for a parking spot- may God help me in doing so- I am taken aback by all the different people around. There are crowds that hustle across the street here and into a building there. As I pass the UICA, I spot a long line that has accumulated outside of its doors. The UICA (Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts) is a well-known venue of ArtPrize. Many pieces there are modern and out of the box.
Though there are many venues available to enjoy during ArtPrize I was only able to visit a few. The Tower Pinkster, UICA, and the Brothers Leather & Supply Company are the main venues that I spent the most time at. Other intriguing places include the Blue Bridge, Amway Hotel, and JW Marriott. During my visit, two main pieces stood out to me. The pieces were “Light Ripples” and “Search Engine Vision ‘ISIS’.”
Art has a way of reaching out the masses and this is what ArtPrize is about. By sharing my experience with you, I hope it inspires you to go seek and experience these amazing pieces of art yourself.
At my first stop, the UICA, I meandered my way through the tight flow of people to the downstairs level. Many pieces caught my eye as I passed through, but it was not until I began to exit up the ramp that I was hit with awe. A long white wall had been plastered with little video icons off of YouTube. On top of the basic level of little icons were more masses, except they were twisted in a strong swift motion while a portion of the entire piece was presenting a video. This piece was called “Search Engine Vision ‘ISIS’” by its creator, Eric Souther. The video presented was a collage of different videos that were related to the search of “ISIS.” At different points in the video there were sounds of static. This made me think of how our thoughts as a nation about ISIS have become a jumbled mess of different views, accusations, and ridicule to the point where we don’t know the truth.
Afterward I made my way over to the Blue Bridge. At this point it was dark outside and the bridge was a delight to see. It was lit up in different colored lights and music was playing. It took me a minute to realize that the music was playing from an art entry, but all I could see were the speakers until I looked over the railing and in the water. It struck me and I remained speechless. In the water there was a metal box anchored with LED light strings attached. The light strands swayed with the flow of the river while it played a light show with the music. Never had I found such an enlightening piece of art. Its name was “Light Ripples” by Christopher Schardt. He is an artist from Oakland, California. Usually there is an art piece explanation with the entry, but there was none with “Light Ripples.” It seemed that the artist intentionally left it this way so that way the light show could be interpreted in any way the viewer seemed fit.
Though these are only two pieces explained, there is a whole different world of art to be experienced during ArtPrize. The diversity of America and especially of Grand Rapids is displayed in this amazing event. There are native artists and others from all over the United States. It’s a place to come together as a community and discover new outcomes of what is possible by those around us. Over the years, I have experienced ArtPrize change and adapt to new venues and artists; it is incredible. The only way to fully understand this event’s influence is to come see it for yourself.