Sunday, November 22, 2009

The "L" on the Hill Must Stand for Laughter!

We had such a great time in Lewiston.  Ellen Vieth is the most fun I've had in a long time.  It was so great getting to know her and watch the energy that just exudes from her very being!

I've been watching her from afar on facebook, but in real life it's dazzling and so is she!  In all of our photos we're cracking up and having a wonderful time.  The reception was super and we had an amazing crowd and wonderful food from La Boheme.   Ellen also hooked me up with some Potlatch Paper and those of you in the know, know what I'm talking about, right? Well, maybe not.  It's overruns of great clay coated paper that I'll have fun experimenting with.

Ellen has a penchant for shoes and so do I, so we got a shot of our shoes - Earle's too!  Can you figure out who's are whose?

Lewiston marks our final run for 2009 with Immigrant Shadows and will run through January 15, 2010.   It's really been a great ride and Earle and I have learned so much and had a terrific time.

It was a long drive home and we ran into snow in Riggins and nearly all the way home.  It's beginning to look a lot like winter around Idaho.  In fact, on the way back to the Red Lion last night, I was startled to see all the trees in a little park down the hill from the hotel all lit up.  It was Lewiston Aglow!

Sorry it's a bit blurry; April was driving and we were moving when I took the shot. The colors were magnificent and were a great finale to a wonderful day.

So, it looks like the holidays are on their way!  Everybody have a safe and thankful TG!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lovin' Lewiston

Found a great bakery/restaurant/cafe today.   It was recommended by gallery director and new friend  Ellen Vieth for my luncheon date with Moscow Installation artist Gerri Sayler.    Gerri drove down from Moscow today to see Immigrant Shadows at the Lewiston Center for Arts and History and met Earle and me at the Gallery where she gave us some great feedback on our work and asked so many insightful questions!   

It was barely over a year ago when I first saw Gerri at work hanging her Ad Infinitum BAM exhibition.   I remember being so in awe of her work and being way too shy to interrupt her and  introduce myself.  And it wasn't long after that when Earle and I bumped in to each other at BAM when we agreed to combine our work and become co-collaborators on Immigrant Shadows.

Gerri and I had  a wonderful conversation about our work, and our thoughts on women artists, returning to school to study art, risk-taking and reinventing ourselves.  Gerri, of course, has been prolific since earning her degree and has presented many installations at significant venues throughout the Northwest.

My camera batteries are charging so I can get some photos at CAH tonight!  My dear friend April is driving up as I write and it will be wonderful to have such a fabulous day of female support.

Thank you Ellen, Gerri and April!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Garden in our Grove

Here's a photo from New Holland Brewery with artist Pamela Krikke's glass and copper gardens in the foreground.  Pamela arranged for the venue and Ric did the install.  This time the trees and castings are suspended from a second story ceiling and are several feet above the floor.  According to Pamela there are skylights that allow the natural light to shine through the filagree of the  trees and canopies on the castings, panels and floor.   Pamela has taken Immigrant Shadows to new heights and Earle and I are both very grateful to her for her vision and this opportunity to collaborate.

Earle and I leave Thursday for Lewiston to install another show.  Earle's driving his motor home and we should arrive late and be ready to hang it all on Friday.   The last time I was in Lewiston was for the kick-off for the Lewis and Clark centennial several years ago.

Look out, Lewiston!  Here we come.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Yup, It's Up

And I'll soon have the pictures to prove it.  But not without a few little glitches.  The ceilings at New Holland Brewing are really, really high - 23 feet to be exact and apparently the brick masonry was not conducive to hanging.

But Ric prevailed and we  now have a reason to go back to Michigan.  Not that I needed a reason, I loved it there.  So did my daughter Jessica.  And we made new friends  and I can find my way around Grand Rapids plus I still have to see the Frederic Meijer Sculpture Gardens.
But in the meantime, here's one for Ric Carroll - the guy that helped us make it all happen.  According to my translation guide, Proost is popular, but Gezunheid is proper.

To your health, Ric!

On its Way Up Again

Immigrant Shadows is on its way up again.  It will be an abbreviated version as we sold some of the pieces and donated others while we were at ArtPrize.   All the same, it will still be a good representation of trees, canopies and castings.   Our new collaborator, Pamela Krikke, will be doing an installation of her work within our installation in Holland, Michigan.   She left a message early this morning that she and Ric, our "go to guy" installer, de-installer, agent, landlord, you name it is on his way to help install the work.

Pamela will be taking photos today.   I'm anxious to see her work and how it all comes together. She's been doing a lot of behind the scenes work in getting the location, transportation, press releases and completing her own work for the project.

Our work seems to gravitate toward food and drink in Michigan.  At ArtPrize it hung in the entry at San Chez Bistro, a popular, upscale tapas restaurant.  Now it will be displayed in a space within a popular brewery called New Holland Brewing Company.  Although I hate the word juxtaposition, it seems to fit when imagining the isolated grove Earle and I created  suddenly front and center where people come to celebrate, dine and enjoy one another.   Perhaps that's what the immigrant sheepherders dreamed about in their silent isolation.

I can sure imagine myself with friends enjoying ourselves at a table near the window in this charming Michigan town.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

From out of Nowhere!

No, I know those aren't aspens, they're tulips. 

And I thought we were  pretty much done. I'm really ready to rest, move on to something new.  We've been back in Boize-wah for over two weeks, the show closed at ISU and it's still a month till we take it to Lewiston and meet Ellen Vieth and her crew at Lewis and Clark College.  I never would've believed in a million years after Garth Claassen's generosity at C of I in January,  we would have the great fortune to take Immigrant Shadows on tour, of all things!

I mean, really, can you even fathom how lucky we are?   And now, suddenly, from out of nowhere, we have another one in Holland. (No not Europe, Michigan!) Which means we don't have to figure out how to get it packed and shipped 1800 miles in a crate that no longer exists!  At least for a while, anyway, and that's  a HUGE relief. The line, "It ain't over till the fat lady sings," has always pissed me off, but being built for comfort (not speed) and not being able to even carry a note in my new suitcase, does give a bit of superstitious credibility to that obnoxious little quip.  Read: I don't and I won't sing. Ever. Okay, I might hum a little bit, but that's it, and only in the car - alone - at night.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Grand Rapids On Its Side!

The ArtPrize logo will always be the signifier of a great learning experience, new friends, fabulous art and an opportunity to experience multiple versions of serendipity.   Everything really fell together to make the event happen for us and Immigrant Shadows when Earle and I first took notice of the logo and the call to artists.

I loved the bold red logo when I first saw it, and imagined it to be a stylized version of a thick stroke of luscious red paint.  And when  they posted all the artist's badges on line, I have to admit I was really excited!

Then arriving in Grand Rapids and seeing this modification on all the documents in our artist packet embedded the organic red swirl in my brain forever.

But that's what branding is all about.

What I didn't know, and Earle explained to me later in our journey, was this curious red shape is highly identifiable to anyone in Grand Rapids.    For forty years Grand Rapids has been the proud owner of a Calder Sculpture, La Grande Vitesse, that sits in the center of the city's plaza.    As I understand it, Grand Rapids was the first city to receive a NEA grant to acquire public art and this masterpiece was the result.  Not surprisingly, it created quite a storm of controversy when it first appeared.  But today the city is full of well-deserved pride for having the courage to take that risk 40 years ago. What a legacy! And only months ago Grand Rapids decided to turn itself inside out, upside down and on its side to "reboot the art conversation" and invite the world to notice they are a city that cares about art, cares about artists and cares about keeping the conversation alive for its citizens and visitors.   I wonder what  Alexander Calder would have to say about that?

Good night, Mr. Calder, wherever you are!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sweet ISU!

Boy, if you ever get a chance to exhibit at ISU, you'll feel like you died and went to heaven!  We were treated so well and had such a good time.   Earle was out of town when I went down two days before ArtPrize to hang the show, but it was really a snap with all the help of the grad students and  Gallery Director, Amy Jo Popa.

Then Earle left this Thursday afternoon for the closing and was there bright and early on Friday to have a chance to chat with art students about our collaborative  process and our growing exhibition schedule.  He had a great time meeting the grad students in their studios and sharing the triumphs and perils of organizing a collaborative exhibition, applying for grants and taking the exhibition a few thousand miles away to ArtPrize.

I left right after teaching on Friday afternoon and arrived just minutes before the beginning of our closing reception -  with just enough time to change out of my dusty pastel covered jeans and black tee to put on something a bit more suitable for the reception.   I then was ready  to meet more of the ISU Art Department faculty and grad students and we enjoyed a great meal and fun before Earle,  his wife Beth and I each tumbled into our suites in the ISU SUB.

The show came down in record time this morning and Earle managed to pack it all in my Honda and his Hyundai - quite a feat since the poster is 40" x 60," the actual arborglyph is 4' tall and weighs in over a 100 pounds, and  there were  10 rolls of all my panels, one medium size box full of bubblewrapped castings   and another box of his castings that is easily 6' x 1' x 1'.  This long, handmade carton  went in through the passenger window of my Civic  and rode shotgun AND backseat driver  the entire 250 miles back to Boise.

Here's a few shots of the Pocatello Show.

I really love how the shadows of a nearby panel create a shadow of a tree on this panel and the light also  casts a shadow from the cut panel on the wall behind.

This one has a little bit of everything and I snapped it just before we pulled the show down.  I can see now that some of the tree panels needed a bit of adjusting, but the photo includes some vertical and horizontal panels with the requisite shadows -  and Earle's castings are all facing forward like someone told them all to look at the camera and say "cheese!"

Next week I should be wrapping up ArtPrize and this blog.  But, I've been busy creating a  new blog now that I've got this one under by belt.  Blogging hasn't been nearly as painful as I anticipated and to be honest, I've really enjoyed it.

See you sometime next week - and I hope I'll be just full of good news!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Yippee Skippee!

So, the good news is we really did sell our work.  Ric will be giving us the final count early next week.  The other  really good news is I received a call from an artist/designer who is interested in taking the remaining work on consignment.  She has been very encouraging, likes our work and  has some great ideas about finding new homes for our castings, trees and canopies.

If it works, it will be a great solution  - like, for one,  not having to pay to ship everything home to Boize-wah- and not having to find a new shipping container.  But, best of all,  it will help us get our art out in the market - which means we probably  won't be taking early retirement, but we  can recover some costs of participating in ArtPrize and the hours we've spent making the work.

Selling art  is tough - and having a champion and agent will be a dream come true.  We'll be working out the details in the next few days.

Meanwhile, we're on our way to ISU this week-end for our closing reception and tear down of the exhibition.  It'll seem so easy to wrap it up and just pack it in our cars for the four hour drive home.

So long Grand Rapids, Pocatello here we come.  The show will have a four week rest and then it's off to Lewis and Clark.  Guess this all means I'm an artist!!!!  Hey, I've still got my ArtPrize bracelet to prove it . . .

These guys wear theirs on their left wrists, too!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Leave Everything as You Found It!

We did our best to do just that.  Here's some befores and afters:

Earle and I returned to Boiz-wah, and Ric put the place back exactly the way we found it when we arrived at San Chez.  Ric made sure the trees, castings and canopies were all taken down and packaged up -  and he filled all the holes so not even a trace remained of "Immigrant Shadows."  Remember, we had decided the work was not  going home in that free BAM garage sale crate.  We bought some sale tags, assigned all 70 pieces a number and we hung that number from every tree, casting and canopy.  And then we made a drastic move. Someone once told me: "Desperate people do desperate things!"  We decided to offer a screamin' deal on all those trees, canopies and castings so we wouldn't have to take out more loans to cover return shipping costs.  And we decided to donate some pieces to a well-deserved non-profit we had contacted prior to our trip to Grand Rapids. But! What we didn't do was create any documents or contracts to negotiate the details of those transactions.  Details!  Didn't I mention them in an earlier post?  Either God or the Devil is in the details!  Well, we excluded both.   Because our  donations soon took on a life of their own and grew and grew and grew to outpace the sales.   People began confusing us with wealthy philanthropists not starving artists.  We even  neglected to document what piece had what number and a number of other important facts.   And then the burden was on the clueless in Boise or our Grand Rapids' pal, Ric.

Here's just a small example:  One of the trees that sold attracted another buyer.  But of course I had no way of knowing what No. 17 looked like because we had always treated the work as a complete exhibition and we had willy-nilly hung tags on each piece..  (There would be no way to perfectly reproduce an exact reproduction anyway because they are all hand cut and I don't keep a pattern of each tree.) So when customer X called to order No. 17 and wasn't able to send a digital photo, she offered to  sketch the tree so I could have some frame of reference for making a similar panel.  If her sketching is like mine, I'm in bucoo dodoo!

Live and Learn!

There is some good news coming, but I'll hold on to that until another post.

Meanwhile, here's a shot of the ArtPrize signage for the entry to San Chez.  Imagine walking around Boise and spotting over 150 of these in a three mile radius?  Makes your eyes tear up, doesn't it?

It seems like yesterday!

But it was well over a week ago.  Earle and I are both back home and we were, of course,  immediately thrown back into our real lives.  You know, father and fireman, grandma, teacher and student.  But there's still a lot to tell.  And that is:  WE LEARNED A LOT!  The hard way.

Well, I don't mean to suggest we have regrets.  But we did learn that although we had months to plan ahead and two full weeks in Grand Rapids, there were a few things we just hadn't prepared ourselves for.

Well, we knew we were going to have to hire someone to take down our exhibition and ship it back to us because we  had hired our new friend, Ric to help with the install deadline as well as to help with the tricky ladder work.  And boy are we glad we did!   But after spending money on registrations fees, airplane tickets, installation kits,  promotional materials, hardware for installing, car rental, parking, parking, parking, parking, food, fuel, three nights in a hotel, souvenirs, a guest book, photocopies, color printing, complimentary appetizers and supplies for our "Community tree" night,  (and I"m sure Earle could add at least a dozen more expenses), we came up with a PLAN.

Here's how it went:  We knew we were going to offer our hosts each a tree, a canopy and a casting for their extreme generosity and hospitality.  We also knew it was gonna be a devil of a time getting someone to reassemble the wooden crate that was taken apart at San Chez before we arrived.   We know why they had to do it.  Take the crate apart, that is.   San Chez is the busiest (and best)  restaurant in Grand Rapids.   They have to store all the fresh ingredients they use, and all their supplies and the space that was available in the cellar, by way of a small freight elevator, is downright miniscule.  So, it meant reassembly of the 5' x 5' x 5' crate  would take a magician and be complicated and cramped, at best.

So, after reviewing all of our spending, spending, spending, we came up with the idea to sell individual pieces of the work to help with the  return shipping and to maybe recover some of the "bukoo" (my own spelling)  bucks  it cost to get us and Immigrant Shadows to Grand Rapids.

Stay tuned!  The plot thickens - and this way you won't be able to read ahead till I have more time to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

Friday, October 9, 2009

And the winner is . . .

. . .. surfer, motorcyclist and oil painter Ran Ortner, for Open Water No. 24!  T'was my fave of the top ten bunch!  And it won $250,000.  I understand the artist was ecstatic - and who wouldn't be ecstatic?

Second place went to the mosaic mural on the Children's Museum.  The children of Grand Rapids are huge winners - not only for the stellar mosaic, but the fact that the artist's  donated this piece to their museum.  And the children were also  winners because many of  their parents considered the event important enough  to include them on all the art walks.   And the mosiac  artists were winners, because they received a check for $1 with five zeros standing straight and  tall right next to that big dollar sign and one.

The push pin portraits came in third. With a prize of $50,000.  According to his artist statement, that means Mr.  Eric Daigh received $1 for every push pin he placed in those three portraits. Not bad, Eric, not bad at all.

The remaining seven  artists all received $7,000, which is nothing to sneeze at, since Earle and I probably easily spent that much  on our  ArtPrize adventure.

But, to tell the truth  the real winners were all the artists and all the good people of Grand Rapids.  I heard that yesterday there were at least 20 people at every street corner rushing to see the entries, and especially the top ten.

When I polled many of you last week, when the top ten were announced, Jason Hackenwerth's  balloons received the most votes.  That artist landed ninth place, but I did heard something quite wonderful about him.   The Grand Rapids Arts Council organized a high school day for students to visit ArtPrize and also arranged for many of the students to meet some of the popular artists.  (By the way, benefactor Rick DeVos donated $10,000 to provide this  rich opportunity to 22 area high schools to cover the expenses of  buses and pay for substitute teachers to allow instructors to attend this event.)   Wouldn't that just be too cool to be able to do??? Anyway, when balloonmaster Jason Hacknewerth addressed the kids, he  engaged them in a great conversation and then asked them to name their favorite artist.  Very few were able to respond and raise their hand.  But, I can bet, after meeting Jason and witnessing this spectacular event, there wasn't a kid in the crowd that didn't know the name of at last one ArtPrize artist by the end of the day.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Good News for Young Kim

The wonderful artist that did the salt and earth prints was just awarded a $5,000 curator's award.  Pretty darn exciting news - since nobody knew until just now there was such a thing.
The idea behind ArtPrize was to let the public choose the best work.  The other idea was to "reboot the conversation about art" and that it did.   Lips were flapping and people were texting, chatting, emailing, voice mailing, writing,  blogging, you name it, to voice their opinions.

I think they exceeded  their expectations in getting people talking.   If art is indeed a conversation, the project worked because few remained silent.  And that's a good thing.

But  now suddenly there's a curator's award.  Oh well!  The good new is that the recipient is Young Kim and he won't have to walk away without a nod for his wonderful work.

One award that wasn't a surprise was the sustainability award.  We were secretly hoping that two of the San Chez artists would win, but the award went to Scott Hessels.  If you're interested in seeing his work, check him out:

Five minutes till the final announcement.   5, 4, 3, 3, 1!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Class Act!

If you read my personal top ten post the other day, then you will remember the piece For Such a Time as This:  Remembering Vietnam by Adrienne Noelle Werge.

The artist apparently read my post, too and can you believe this?  She wrote me a thank you note! I feel compelled to share it, because it provides so much more insight to her piece.   Here's her note:

Hi Amy! Thank you for your nice words about my work. I am sorry I did not get a chance to see yours while in Grand Rapids. In my opinion, Young Kim's work was the strongest in the pool and I am a great supporter of his work as you are.
I thought you might be interested in knowing a few details about my installation, such as how each helmet (there are 239 rice helmets in this iteration) symbolizes a child who was with me in the orphanage in Vung Tau in 1972. There were 240 originally installed, and one helmet has been "adopted" so this installation includes the remaining 239. The rice bed in the Old Federal space (which is 1600 square feet in total) is 16' x 12' and there are five Super-8 clips projected on it--the footage was a gift from the people who ran the orphanage where I lived in '72, and I received it nearly 20 years later. For me, the helmets also stand in for soldiers--and the rice itself represents the life/death cycle.
I hope you enjoyed your ArtPrize experience. Safe journey!


I'm going to give you a link to her website because there is much to learn and her photos are far better than my point and shoot version:

In just a bit less than 24 hours the winner of ArtPrize will be announced at a huge bash in Grand Rapids.  I'd give anything to be there  to witness the outcome.  Stay tuned!

The Leader of the Pack!

Was reviewing all my ArtPrize photos last night and had forgotten about these two. There were very few pieces in Grand Rapids where I took the time to get a photo of the details.   But this is one of them.   Some say God is in the details, some say the devil is in the details, but  there's no doubt this artist recognized Dick Cheney in the details -  and unfortunately, the world will long be suffering as a result.

Here's the full size image - about 5' x 7' as I remember it:

We'll never forget him -  the leader of the pack. Look out, look out, look out, look out! 

Check out the bottom of his shoes and his throne!  What, like we weren't going to notice? 

Monday, October 5, 2009

My own personal top 11!

Okay, here’ my shortlist of favorites from ArtPrize.  I tried to see it all but believe me, it was impossible and I seriously doubt I got to even half of all of the entries.  The good news is I'm home: fresh garden tomatoes roasting in the oven with garlic, olive oil, capers, olives and fresh basil which will be tossed with linguine. AND, I'm wearing my  new San Chez kiwi green chef coat and sipping a glass of Pinot Grigio.   You may want to join me with a glass as you check out my favorites.  BTW, they are not in any particular order.

1. Young Kim:  Salt and Earth 2009

If you’ve been following this blog – you know I love this piece! It lines the floor of  a relic of a building behind San Chez.

The next two pieces also occupy the floor.

2.  Sonjie Feliciano Solomon:  Cloudscape, Floaters 2

I really loved this fabric piece and, because of the title, would love to see it suspended. But it's displayed on the floor on a sheet of silver mylar.  If it had been my piece,  I would've dangled those clouds, rather than tether them down. There was always a huge crowd around the work,  so I never got to enjoy it in solitude.

Here's her link:

3. Adrienne Noelle Werge:   For Such a Time as This:  Remembering VietNam

This piece will stop you cold in your tracks.  It occupies a huge hallway in the Old Federal Building.  Rows and rows of containers made out of rice, then cast in helmets line a dimly hit hallway.  The artist was adopted near the end of the Vietnam War and remembers leaving her home with her new parents and hearing the sound of the car backfiring and mistaking it for gunfire.   The white bowls are smooth on the outside and the rugged inside linings are like  freshly tossed steamed rice frozen in time.  In the midst of rows of helmets sits a huge field of rice at least 6-8 inches deep  and serves as a screen for viewing a film of a small toddler.  You  should definitely check out her website at:
"The bowls, like children," states the aritist, "are  very fragile."

4 Mark Chatterley:  Reverse Psychology  

You’ve previewed this piece before, if you've been reading the blog..  I could’ve sat on a Steelcase chair all day and admired this work.   I didn't even need an artist statement to love this 10' clay sculpture..  Here's the artist's link:

5. Tamara Fox:  Sweet! 
 . . . just because I will always remember this piece!  And especially when I'm in my car and find it driving on its own half way to hell and gone to get one of Lily Jane's thickly frosted buttercream  covered cupcakes in Eagle.

I smelled this piece before I  actually saw it.  It led me, like  a cartoon dog with dotted lines of sniffs, all the way up the stairs to its position in a 10' niche in a second floor gallery.  The floor was covered with pale pink carpet and standing inside the niche gave me the rare opportunity to experience life inside Ann P’s or Betty C’s devils food cakes.  It might have been  the only time in my life someone could call me “Cupcake”  and I wouldn't have been offended. You see,  the  walls are  thickly covered with gobs of bright pink frosting.  The piece addresses addiction. Need I say more? (other than the fact she was inspired by Joseph Bueys?????  Here's the link:

6. Rob Bliss: 100,000 Paper Planes and Melodies Over Monroe 

There was so much controversy over this piece and apparently you either love or hate this Grand Rapids Christo who goes by the name of Rob Bliss. But, I defy you to fold 100,000
8.5 x 11 Astrobright airplanes after printing a stanza of an Icelandic folk song on nearly every other piece.  Got That? Then gather over 20,000 Grand Rapidians in a six block stretch to unexpectedly collect an average of 5 airplanes a piece within minutes of the descent of those 200 reams of paper. (No street sweeping necessary!)  Plus, admit it, who wouldn’t love to be the lucky one that took the role of Zeus showering a small country of Danaes with sailing sheets of goldenrod.

7. Tad McCillop:  Loss

I’ve shown you this piece before, and I absolutely  love it.  For some reason it reminds me of  Soviet propaganda sculptures that attracted my attention in Prague a few years ago.  The stylized hair and drapery caught my eye when the artist registered with ArtPrize months ago. I made a point to find this 72 x 72 x 35 hydrocal sculpture in GR and I wasn’t a bit disappointed. Check out the website:

8.  James Brandess:  The Saugatuck Collection

I borrowed this photo from the  ArtPrize site.

 The work is a series of nearly 250 each small 4 x6 paintings of everyday people from a small Michigan  lakeshore  community and arranged in a grid format on the second floor of the BOB.  The artist's intent is to paint everyone in the town.  And each of us (if we tried) could find a minimum of ten paintings of people we could confuse with folks we know, hate, love, or who have passed from our lives.  Jessica and I stood there for the longest time finding the faces of so many of the people that have shaped our lives.  By the way, all the images are connected with fishline.

9.  Quinn Gregory:  Infinite Hope

I know, I know, I know!  Call me crazy, but remember I fell for 100,000 paper airplanes, for crying out loud? And I made my daughter climb six, count 'em, six, flights of stairs to check out this piece.  So how could I help but fall for 250,000 Swarovski crystals?  You must remember that I love the whole Italian Renaissance, the multitude of movie star Madonnas, flocks and gaggles of luscious angels floating on spectacular high, the jewel embedded altars and bedazzled bronze baldachinos.  Given that, I could never - ever  resist a true to life size encrusted Swarovski crystal crucifix? It was absolutely dazzling! I'm a soft touch for the title, too!

11.  Earle Swope and Amy Nack:  Immigrant Shadows: Tracing the Herder's Legacy

Earle would never, ever forgive me if I didn’t choose Immigrant Shadows as a favorite.  And to tell you the truth, I’d feel the same way if he ever dared to omit this from his top ten.  Actually, a few people felt the same way, if you can believe all the messages left in our guest book.  We decided to hang tags on all the work before we left and so far I've really, really sold some!!!  I'm gonna keep wearing my "artist" wristband til they're all gone.  Then again, I may never take it off.

Say goodnight, Gracie!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Inquiring Minds Really Want to Know . . .

Here’s the deal. I’m going to be brutally honest here.  I recently presented the top ten ArtPrize finalists as straightforwardly as possible, because I didn’t want to diss any of the work and I wanted to direct  some attention to what I felt was deserving art, neither sentimental nor spectacle.  All the artwork deserves a round of applause.  The work is good.  Would I have chosen any of these for the top ten.   If you want to know, ready on.

 Here goes:I love the Open Water No. 24 painting – that, and Field of Reeds are in great venues, are masterfully executed and are deserving of recognition. They sit about 10 feet apart from each other, and although I heard people say it was thoughtfully curated with the two pieces  being so intimate, I disagree.  The reeds make an unusual, creaking noise that  compete with the opportunity to hear the implied wind on Open Water.  The constant undulating movement of the reeds distracts the viewer from Open Water's implied rhythm of waves.  Plus, the proximity of the Reed piece also prevents the viewer from backing more than 10 feet away from the work to fully breathe in the whole Open Water piece.  On the other hand, the dynamic Field of Reeds is barely influenced by the other. But both works deserve their own space.  I hope at least one of these pieces earns more than the $7,000 that will be awarded to positions 4 through 10,

 Imagine That! The Children’s Museum Mosaic.

 The ArtPrize competition inspired some extremely talented and creative mosaic artists to produce a phenomenal piece to adorn the exterior walls of the Children’s Museum.  The children and city of Grand Rapids definitely lucked out in a win/win with this piece - regardless of where it places on the hit parade.

Jason Hackenworth's mind-blowing spectacular intergalactic army of ballon figures with its equaly spectacular title, Ecstasy of the Scarlett Empress received a ton of votes before voting was even officially announced.  I'll let you decide if it's worth $250,000, $100,000, $50,000 or $7,000.

These next pieces seem to resonate with the homies here and are all created by Michigan artists.

The Furniture City Sets the Table for the World of Art:

The mammoth, warm-your-heart and chair of bowlies dinette made me feel like a character in a Hallmark production of an Alice in Wonderland cartoon.  Why didn’t the artist use the opportunity to create a large-scale furniture piece that doesn’t dumb down the legacy of this area’s great furniture industry?  I heard they spent over $150,000 making the piece and installing it.  

The Nessie Project?

Come’ on people! I said it before; I’ll say it again.  Nessie works for people that like things that go bump in the night – and last night the glowing green eyes made my eyebrows arch and my eyes roll counter clockwise.   Maybe they can find a way to drop a coin into some bridge-mounted slot, to make he/she/it wink.


This is really a clever and talented entry,  But honestly, it’s hard for me to believe a moose could really be a contender for 250,000 clams.  But I'm jaded. Perhaps its because I live in Idaho where the ubiquitous moose is an obigatory element of interior design.  

Wind Dancer + The Grand Dance

Wind Dancer, the kinetic sculpture is pretty cool, but if it hadn’t been on the popular Blue Bridge, I suspect it would not have made the top ten.

And that floating river thing? The Grand Dance?  At least at night, the colored lights and the darkness obscure the view of the last-ditch-attempt-for-stability metal tripod that supports this fleet of flying fish. It honestly feels to me like a covert tongue in cheek mockery of the Calder: the 40-year-old Grand Rapids Granddaddy of public art that sits in the heart of the city.  

I’ll wrap this critique up with the push pin piece entitled Portraits.  Artist Eric Daigh seems to be a very strong contender for a big chunk of change.  His process is similar to Devorah Sperber’s breathtaking digitized work with thread that no doubt impressed every visitor to BAM this summer.  I understand how Daigh uses the tools of technology to execute these 50,000 push pin portraits.  They are amazing pieces.  I’m a printmaker and I’d be lost without Photoshop, but I would have liked to see Eric mix it up somehow.  Maybe nix the CMYK and introduce a fauve-ish palette or some other twist? 

Sorry for the windy post.  I had to get it off my chest.  Expecially when there are soooooo many works of art hanging at obscure venues in Grand Rapids that were obviously overlooked.

  Whew! That's all she wrote!

Good-Bye Grand, Grand Rapids

My body's ready, but my brain is not!  I still haven't wrapped my brain around all this art.  And I'm sad that I didn't get to see every last entry.  Jessica just dropped me off at the airport a few minutes ago and I am sitting  at gate A2 waiting for my first flight through Mpls.   It looks like a promise of a beautiful day. Blue sky and the clouds are breaking up for jubilant rays of sunshine.   We schlepped through the rain all day yesterday and I fought with a crazy umbrella  capable of olympian calisthenics.  I'll still be posting my top ten when I can organize the images.  But here's a few more that I never got posted.

I wish this next one had been in a venue that showed it off.  This a room full of translucent elastic cords stretched from floor to ceiling.  It was in another old abandoned factory and this area was filled with them.

I know I haven't been relating the contents of artist statements, and it's a shame.  I suppose I could've posted a link to every one of these images, but it's an overwhelming task - and I could find them (if you give me plenty of notice) if anybody out there is intrigued and needs more.

No, I'm not trying to pass this off as a work of art.   It's a photo Jessica took of me right near the Lighthouse in Holland - a place I'd really enjoying come back to some day.    It could happen.  I'm already trying to figure out what  I might do to enter next year.  Anyone  (with a trust fund) interested in collaborating . . .

They're setting up the doorway to board.
Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Kirk and Jake are out of the Woods!

I can finally breathe.   I know you wouldn't have sensed this from my previous posts, but I've been a  total wreck since last night.  Kirk and our pal Jake went packing last week in the Escalante, Utah canyon.  They left on 9/26 and I had received an email with their route, notifying me that they expected to be back in civilization on 9/30 or 10/1. The directions said if I hadn't heard from them the evening of 10/2 to call dispatch.  I was on the phone in the wee hours of the morning with a ranger who is very familiar with the area but wasn't aware of them or their whereabouts.   We talked again earlier this AM and he passed the info on to the sheriff's office because the area is under Garfield County jurisdiction.  We talked quite a few times back and forth while I racked my brain for any clues or contact info I had, but the only thing I had was the emailed route.   They had left with Jake's mules and planned to cover 27 miles in this wild canyon.  The ranger felt confident that they had probably underestimated the amount of time, because the trek can be really dicey.  He said a lot more, but the only word I remember was quicksand. I busied myself with this blog to keep me from imagining the worst.  Just now the phone rang and it was Kirk.  They're back, they're safe and after weeping with relief I can only say Thank God.

Thanks for letting me vent and share my relief!

Coming Soon!

Never mind  the public vote.  Earle and Amy will soon list our favorite picks!

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Top 10 ArtPrize Contenders! I've seen 'em all!

And I know the spectacular balloons (Ecstasy of the Scarlett Empress) are really fun and the artist is a mastermind and it's a new  and unexpected medium and you just can't possibly resist them. Jessica said something about it reminding her of the 1980's Disney's Light Parade especially when the balloons are illuminated.   I definitely think it has the ability to evoke the sense and place of childhood wonder. And if you could've seen the toddler totally enchanted in the midst of this huge neon latex construction you would've melted right there on the spot.

The monumental Nessie is indeed a treat to all the the people that love things that go bump in the night.

And certainly everyone in GR relates to Sarah Grant's gigantic furniture on their favorite walking bridge.  (in photo above)

The solar energy source of theWind Dancer kinetic sculpture as well as David Lubber's Grand Dancer stranded in the Grand River definitely make formidable competitors.

Eric Daigh's push pin Portraits are so very engaging and indeed a time consuming tour de force.    He uses only pins - a cmyk premise of dots distilled to red (not magenta), yellow, black and blue.

Moose made out of nails is clearly an awesome favorite at the BOB and has definitely stomped its way into the hearts of Grand Rapidians.  You could swear moose hair is as stiff and rugged as a rusted 2 penny nail.  Here's the photo downloaded from M.Live's site.

 There's a compelling piece here by Young Kim which didn't make the final ten and everyone is lamenting.  I gave a link on facebook to his piece a while back.  The artist did a  dimly lit warehouse installation of image of passerbys using only salt and clay.  Single lightbulbs dangle over clusters of the mounded images.  This definitely does not do it justice so click on the link, if you haven't already.

And there is no doubt that the Field of Reeds project is stunningly mesmerizing.  The artist draws from natural history, architecture and technology while he investigates the intersection of cinema, computation, music and physical space. (paraphrased from the artist)  This is another piece that drew multitudes of curious children and held them spellbound.

Imagine That! the bright Children's Museum mosaic mural captures the very essence and energy of children's imagination and the generous creativity that only youthful exuberance  and honest innocence can proclaim.

 But when all is said and done, and the dust settles, the enduring, most extraordinary piece to me is the painting  Open Water by Ran Ortner.  The 228" x 70" oil painting on canvas is truly breathtaking.  No digital, giclee,  eennckjee', (say inkjet without the "t") could ever, ever, ever complete  with the  intimate movement and realism that the artist captures in this work.    Ortner says that "quality can be particularly enlivening, because you feel you are exhausted and touched by this process."    Some might say that painting is dead.  Don't believe them.  If you've ever been hypnotized by the tumbling sound of surf that you hear deep in your bones and soul,  the magnificent, endless power  and breadth of the sea that has the ability to  diminish one's presence to a minute particle of sand in the vast expanse of nature,  I don't know how you could resist this work!

This btw is (maybe) a 30 square inch cell phone photo of a brief portion of this colossal oil  on canvas masterpiece.  I am in the presence of genius!