(report from Christine:) This year I did manage to go to the Grand Rapids ArtPrize, with my painting-and-kayak friend from Sherwood, Kathy Barnes, who had a piece, “Ribbon Mandala“, in the event. The first place we visited was the Diocese administration building, which had a lovely (and serious) show on the second floor, including Kathy’s large painting. We then walked across town, stopping in shops, galleries, and peering through windows into art-filled empty storefronts. There was quite a bit of good art, a lot of “shock-me” art, and a lot of just plain silliness. We went to the art museum (which had 100,000 visitors during the ArtPrize event!) but the lines were too long, so we cruised the “BOB” (a downtown outdoor square) and saw the largest/ludicrous/most garish/most crowd-pleasing/ack-ack-ack pieces, including the infamous “Steam Pig” that every artist I talked to was in a tizzy (not a good tizzy) about.
What a great event for the city, though! It was fun, it allowed countless people to feel easy about interacting with art, both good and bad — really important in terms of future public support of the arts — and encouraged people to go into stores, shops, galleries and other public places that they may never have visited. I am sure that for small businesses, this upping of awareness of their location and what they have to offer HAS to translate into a future increase in business. Is there a lesson here for Three Rivers, for local artists and local businesses?
We also attended the awards. It turns out that in addition to the popular vote big-bucks awards, there are also various properly juried awards in various categories, read more about it here, artprize.org. Alas, though a juror had told her that her painting was well received, Kathy Barnes did not receive the two-d award. So I’m including the picture of her work here (also see her artprize page, http://www.artprize.org/artists/public-profile/48913.) Part of the work is the guest book, in which people respond to her painting with their own stories.