Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Big Day Today!

Today's M.Live.com story about Earle,  the WZZM TV News story about our venue, San Chez, and my house mother, Deborah's invite on Facebook to our Tree Cutting Party tomorrow night is enough to make our heads big enough that we'll have to go to the corner to turn around!  We did get by Roger Rowley's venue today at the Art Council of Grand Rapids.   Unfortunately, Roger was only in town for a day, so we didn't get to introduce ourselves, but we loved his photo installation.  The picture I took was pretty lame, so I'm going to include a link to his ArtPrize page (I just realized I've spelled his name with an "a" not an "o" so I corrected it here and will try to catch the previous misspellings.)

I'm adding just a few more photos from the remainder of our day, so take a look.   Here's Earle posing by a starburst of traffic cones.

Looks like my camera had a slight case of the blues here, but you can still see some of the ArtPrize signage.

We met the artist of these ceramic pieces tonight and Meegan bought one!  I would've bought one, too,  if I had some spare cash, but . . .

This is a scene across the  Grand River from the fish ladder. It was on our way back to meet Meegan and we decided to stroll along the river. Earle and I stopped by the fish ladder the other day and watched the salmon climb up the ladder.  The fisherman are out here like mad fishing all day long.  If you enlarge this one you'll be able to see a few in their waders.

That's it. Gone fishin'

200,000 ArtPrize Votes Recorded as of Today!

And think about it!  With nearly 30,000 people registered to vote, that's really only 7 votes per registered voter.   The task is daunting.  See 1262 works of art in 8 days, narrow it down to the top ten and then another 8 days to sort out who gets first, second, third, fourth - all the way to the tenth best entry.  That's it.  There are no categories - not even 2D or 3D, installation or performance.  Just choose the top ten.  That's it.

After my day of rest yesterday, Earle and I headed out a little after noon today.  Earle's host, Meegan, heads up M.Live.com - an online Michigan publication.  She wrote a feature article on Earle today.  So after the photo shoot we braved the blustery wind and headed north.  Here are some of the best images of the day.  Let's start with the festive fish that also hangs in San Chez and is made entirely from recycled materials from the restaurant.

This mixed media cut-paper piece hangs in the San Chez Cafe across the hall from the Bistro.

We're now leaving the restaurant and heading North.  This piece reminds me a bit of Deborah Butterfield's work.

This huge and impressive piece sits in a park on the East side of the Grand River:

Please click on this piece mounted on the outside of a building near the BrassWorks building.  There is wonderful work at the BrassWorks, but the door was locked both times we tried and we were hugely disappointed.   This work made it worth the bitter walk - uphill both ways!


Here's a print by a French artist.  When I entered the space I exclaimed, "Oh, looks, it's a print!" "No, it's a painting," the receptionist briskly admonished.   "Naw, this is a print," I sweetly corrected.  "No!  This is ArtPrize, we don't have any prints!" she foolishly responded, implying that prints were, what?  Xerox copies??  "Read her sign!" she commanded.  Well, I didn't have to, but I did.  The artist described putting ink on a plastic plate and transferring it to paper.   I DESPERATELY wanted to suggest SHE read the sign.  Oh well, I'm a printmaking snob and I admit it.

I really love this one, too.  Note the ArtPrize sign by the door.   Every venue has one of these signs outside their door so you can easily find them.  Plus every lightpole has ArtPrize banners, the buses are decorated with ArtPrize logos, it's endless the amount of work that went into putting this event together.  By the way the circus was in town last week and when they unloaded the elephants, they put ArtPrize Red paintbrushes in their trunks and had them paint on some city buses.   I'm not kidding.

I love, love, love this piece!  I guess you can tell that I'm drawn to the 3D work with all the sculptural pieces.  I also think they photograph better than the 2D work, so sorry to shortchange all the 2D artists that are checking the blog.

I'll add just one more here for now.  I met this artist in another great old warehouse turned studio tonight. She told me she loves puns,  love sock monkeys and had so much fun making this. There are bananas in the drawer on the right and the title is "The Father of Man."

Oh, one more bit of news!  We threw together an idea the other day as a way to get a few more people into San Chez.  We're going to make a community ArtTree.  So, tomorrow night from 5 to 8, the public is invited to stop by to  cut a leaf into an 8'  treepanel.  (I brought some paper along in case I had to redo something)  We'll have some tapas, a cash bar and several tables lined up in a row.  I'll throw down a roll or two of the single face corrugated I use to store and ship the panels, roll out the paper and provide an exacto with a fresh #11 blade.  The San Chez logo is a fork that morphs into a tree with branches and no leaves.   I'll cut the trunk and some branches and we'll let the guests cut out leaves. San Chez can decide if they want to display it once it's finished, but they love the idea!

I have a lot more photos, but I'll save them for another time.


Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs . . .


Black on white . . .  white on black . . .  Arborglyph signs . . . ArtPrize signs . . .  When you tell a story on a tree, it makes sense to direct the viewer's eyes to look all around the tree.  You know,  so the viewer doesn't miss anything.   When you tell a story on a three story wall, it makes sense to direct the viewer's eyes up. You know, so the viewer doesn't miss anything.   Don't you think we all have something to say, just different ways of saying it?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Steel Ballet

This is Terrence Karpowicz's steel and polymer sculpture Pettite Passe  that sits at the East entrance of the Blue Bridge and now holds a place in the Top 25.  I know, I posted a photo of this blue pedestrian bridge earlier when I introduced Nessie who resides in the Grand River.  This bridge hovers over Nessie the river monster (also in the Top 25), allows pedestrians protection from this mammoth creature and provides a fine stroll across the river.  I get a sense this bridge is the heart and soul of the city.  It is a highly visible venue and has brought success to all the fine artists that secured this location to showcase their work.   Sarah Grant  holds a place in the Top 25 with her massive table and chairs that sits atop the bridge and appears in an earlier post.  A nearly 20' stainless steel mobius strip by artist Plamen Yordonoff  flanks the west bank entrance to the bridge and has earned a Top 25 slot along with Michael Westra's welded steel kinetic sculpture and both beg the viewer to stop and examine. Last, but definitely not least, is Nathaniel Mabie's cement, steel and found object sculpture, Follow the Leader, which holds a position in the Top 50 as of this writing.   And not far from Nessie, in the Grand River, is The Grand Dance, another Top 25 sculpture, by artist David Lubbers.   This is a must-see venue, especially for those that are looking for the potential winners in the top ten category before the announcement early Thursday morning.  I sure hope the public will continue to seek out the remaining 1252 great works of art that found their way in to a mere three mile radius in the center of this happenin' Midwestern city.

Neighborhood Treasures

This has been a great day to re-coop and get to know the Woods a little better.  Deborah read me a poem she wrote that won an award this last year and brought me some yummy pastries from Van's Pastry (a local favorite bakery) - windmill cookies, macaroons and a death by chocolate frosted cream puff.   When she declined part of it, I cut it in half and ate it over the sink.  The other half was staring me in the face like I was an idiot to leave it on the counter, so I cut that half into quarters and consumed it.   "It's the frosting" said Deborah as I inhaled the last quarter.

I had time to recover so we could go out for dinner to Brick Road Pizza (it's on one of the charming brick roads that wander throughout GR) and Tom, Deborah and I split a mouthwatering masterpiece. We took a tour through some of GR's grand neighborhoods including a Frank Lloyd Wright tour de force.  One of the neighborhoods reminded me of Warm Springs, complete with an Old Children's Home that has been recently renovated.   I snapped this picture right at dusk.

Tomorrow I'll get back in the ArtPrize groove and get to work and out and about to fill in the blanks on my venue dance card.   There's so much more to see:  The UICA,  The GRAM, Kendall College of Art and Deisgn, The Arts Council.  Stop me here because I've barely scraped the tip of the ArtPrice iceberg.

Did you ever have a pair of Red Ball Jets?

On the back of each heel there was a little Red Ball.  This was long before Nike, Teva or Merrill.   It was the age of Buster Brown, when they took x-rays of kid's feet to insure the proper fit and maybe even just for the thrill of it!  Red Ball Jets were darn cool sneakers as I remember.  But nothing compared to this giant red ball that's currently listed in the top 25 at ArtPrize. I have yet to see it, but the artist was one of the first to register with ArtPrize last summer.   This is Kurt Perschke’s Red Ball Project, and the photo is from his June 2009 installation in Toronto. 

It's a gloomy, cold and rainy day here in GR.  The kinda day when the leaves are just beginning to be released from their branches, the wind makes ripples in the blueblack puddles near the street corner gutters, and you just wanna hunker down with a colorrful afghan, a cup of tea and a book of Billy Collins' poetry.  Deborah has arranged exactly that for me, so I'll hunker for awhile and then I might just head back out in search of the Red Ball.  But I'll be remembering an early autumn day back in ol' Minnie, skipping over puddles in my brand new Red Ball Jets.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Can You Believe It

Five days into ArtPrize and over 100,000 votes have been cast by over 28,000 registered voters.  No one in their wildest dreams ever predicted that the turnout would be so astonishing.   I think they were overwhelmed when 150 venues in town stepped up  and agreed to host the 1262 artists.   They began listing the top 100 artists on Wednesday and you  should be able to get up to the minute info on the ArtPrize site.  Don't bother looking for us in the top 100, we're not there . . .  but we're still really jazzed about being here, talking with people, seeing the art and enjoying the city.  If you ever get a chance to visit, don't pass it up.  They're planning on making this an annual event and wouldn't it be great if they could get more that 3 Idaho artists out here next year.   We still haven't found U of I's Roger Rawley's work yet, but we won't leave without checking it out -  plus we've got a week to go.

Okay, Just One More Before I Crash

I just remembered that I took this photo of a work by a GR High School Art Teacher named Scott.  This piece hangs directly opposite ours at San Chez.  It's titled My Wife in Wine and Scott used wine corks to create the piece.  He's a charming young man with a great deal of talent.   I've really enjoyed talking with him and hearing his Boy Meets Girl story about how he fell in love with the subject of this work.

It's raining here in GR and I just heard a huge crack of rolling thunder.  I'm really gonna turn off the nights now and listen to the rain.

Nite' all

Tale of a Whale

This tale of a whale is just a small part of a very large whale made out of mud.   I believe the artist asked the public to work collectively on the whale to apply the mud to a wooden frame on this upper floor of  WMSAT.   The assembly was filmed and a video runs in fast forward as you watch the people rush to complete it.

I have one more post of a couple of paintings that are part of a larger collection that I really liked.

abadadabababaaba a that's all, folks!  At least for tonight!  I'm hittin the hay!
Sweet dreams, one and all!

There's More to Come

This piece is from the Western Michigan School for Arts and Technology.   It reminded me of Devorah Sperber's work at BAM this summer.   It's a mosaic of tiny, digitized art files from the student's work at WMSAT.

Speaking of mosacis, this is just a portion of a mosaic on the exterior wall of the Children's Museum which is right across the street from MWSAT.  The fellow with his hand in the air is one of the collaborators that has donated this piece to the museum.  It sparkles in the sunlight and screams of the delightful work of children and their art.  I'm certain this will have to place in the top 25.

I hope when you click on this image the photo will expand so you can see all the artificial flowers attached to the outside of this abandoned building.  It's right in the heart of the city.  The artists who collaborated on this one call it Project Propogate.  They made a plea to the public to donate artificial flowers to get people to pay attention to the site.  No doubt about it, you can't miss it.   It actually reminded me of my niece, Dana, who has a yoga studio in NYC and San Francisco.  When I visited several years ago she had decorated the whole wall outside of her NY studio, Laughing Lotus, with artificial flowers.   I'll have to ask her what ever happened to all those flowers.

Look, Up In the Sky! It's a Bird, It's a Plane

Ever wonder what 100,000 paper airplanes look like when they're launched from several buildings in downtown Grand Rapids?  Earle and I sure did as we dashed to Monroe Street to witness this much anticipated event today.   We missed the first release and this is what we caught on camera.   But keep scrolling down to see some of the other launches!

Ready, set, go!   This event lasted for an hour, and paper airplanes were launched from several building in assorted astrobrite colors.   It was great fun and the crowd loved it.
Not a one was left on the street or the sidewalk.  

It was astounding to see how fast they were all scooped up.   The kids were collecting them as fast as they could.  I'm sure it was an event they will remember for a long time.  I know I will.

Destination 1111

Ric Carroll, our install expert, is also a piano-playin' expert.  He invited us to hear his band, Paucity, Friday night.  It was so cool sitting out under the stars at this huge old warehouse.
The band played outside on the old loading dock.  And if that wasn't enough, the warehouse was full of artist's studios and they were having a big open house.   We got to wander into these 800-1000+ square foot bare bone studios and meet the artists.   The place was packed with people and the really great part about it was all the families with little children there - a real community of artists, families, friends, art, music, food enjoying each other and the art.

When you hop on facebook, checkout Ric's band, Paucity.  Earle and I picked up a CD so we'll share their music when we get back.

Sheer Genius

This piece includes a series of sheer panels with photographic b & w images of the artist's family members.  Each one has a title:  "The Brother,"  "The Mother" . . . you get my drift.   In the midst of the panels is a  stripped down representation of the artist  which consists simply of black lingerie and a pair of bright red heels.

Here's one I forgot to post

Earle and I ran into a guy in a hallway the other day while we were checking out the art.  It's easy to spot the artists because they wear those little plastic wristbands that are so popular.  The registered voters wear ArtPrize Red  bands (which sometimes looks orange).  The ArtPrize guys must have figured artists are good guys, because we get to wear white ones!   Anyway, the guy we randomly met walking down a hallway goes by the name of "Rx."  He's an amazingly talented woodcarver and I wish you could see his piece up close and personal.   (Click on the image to expand the photo.)  It's  positively brilliant and just loaded with content!  Thumbs up to Rx.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I walked outside tonight to get a couple of shots of our work from the outside looking in.  What I didn't realize until I reviewed the images, was the reflection of the city buildings on the window that frames one of my panels.  We pretty much spent all day inside alongside our work. This image is a great reminder that no matter what we're doing, or thinking about, our stressing about, or whether we're having a great time or not so great time, the world is still turning and we can get a much richer picture when we get the chance to expand our perspective and look at familiar things in a new way.

We met some extraordinary people tonight.  Tomorrow is our big day - it's the traveling brunch which will celebrate  a number of nearby venues and artists - including San Chez.

Then we'll have Monday  and time to check out more venues and come Thursday, my daughter, Jessica, will be arriving to check out more art.  I'm hoping to take a day trip and drive to Lake Michigan and check it out.

The leaves are starting to change here, just as I imagine they are doing back in Boiz-wah.  I'm looking forward to  a walk along the lake and maybe swishing through some real leaves rather than the paper remnants that I left scattered on the floor in my home studio . . .

Talk about busy!

Take a look at our venue - San Chez Bistro!  The place is packed and the food and beverage list is unlike any other!  Everyone is in awe of the amazing response to this event.  I just met a Graphic Designer who put it in a nutshell!  "The world is craving art!"

Just another day at ArtPrize

Yup, just another day in paradise.   There are a couple of latex artists here who deftly turn your everyday balloons into masterpieces.  And this artist's masterpieces actually walk down the street just like you and me!    They were walking across the street from San Chez today and I just had to run out and get their picture.

And I thought I was tired!

Take a look at this piece.  It sits right in the center of Grand Rapids outside the BOB  (Big old Building) that has been transformed to house restaurants, art, bars.  At the  top of the structure in the middle is a guy standng.  He's been standing there at the pinnacle of this enormous tripod day and night, night and day.  I suspect he sleeps (when no one is watching) in the area directly beneath his podium.   You might even confuse him with an Idaho cowboy with his western hat and the American flag waving in the breeze.  The weather is flirting with rain, so I hope he has a rainproof duster and a big  windproof umbrella!

Soooo much to see!

My apologies to the artist who created this superb sculpture.  I took this photo  last night with my cell phone and the lighting does not do this piece justice.   Click on it to enlarge it and notice how the artist rendered the drapery and hair.  I love this piece!

You never know who you'll meet!

We found that people were reluctant to enter our grove so the San Chez staff suggested we write on the floor in chalk to encourage people to wander through.  It's made a big difference and people really are wandering through.  San Chez has actually set up a small  table for people to dine in the grove, which Earle and I will  definitely have to do before we leave this great town!  Today is a very busy day here and crowds of people are on the streets and in the venues.  We were really excited to recognize Rick DeVos, the genius behind this ArtPrize event, actually wandering our grove. It gave us a chance to introduce ourselves and thank him for offering this stellar opportunity to participate in this incredible event!   We've seen him around town and are convinced he will see every ArtPrize entry!  How cool is that?

Well Connected? You betcha!

Here we are, two Idahoans enjoying a Belgium beer in a Spanish Tapas Restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan where the Dutch continue to shape and influence this beautiful city. And Earle and I sit with our Polish, English, Irish, German, Welsh, Scottish, Swiss and French heritage in a grove that celebrates Basque, Chilean, Brazilian, Mexican and Argentine immigrants in the Mountain West!   Tell me we're not all interconnected.

Friday, September 25, 2009

NO, it's NOT a waterfall!

This was the final photo of our evening last night.  The artist spins glass out of recycled bottle.  It sits outside one of the major venues here and this was shot about midnight.

The Super Collaboration!

This is the "Nessie" project - from a huge collaboration team of designers.  He/She/It emerges from the river in the heart of town.  Legend has it that a weird fog invaded the river just at the point of the install!   Do0do - doodo!

Take a look on the top of the blue walking bridge.  There's a installation of a hand-painted table and chairs on top.  This is the midwest center of furniture design - so appropriate!

Berlin Wall

Some of the ArtPrize art is exhibited at the Gerald Ford museum. We wandered on in and took a snapshot of a portion of the Berlin Wall that was donated to the museum by the Meijer family in GR.

There are three big philanthropist families in this town, probably more. I'm aware of these three:  The DeVos family and VanAndels are both part of the Amway dynasty.  And young Rick Devos is responsible for ArtPrize.  And then there's the Frederick Meijer family that  has the incredible sculpture garden in town.  I'm definitely not going to miss the opportunity to visit the sculpture garden.  Check it out!

An apology to the artists

Just want to say that I'm sorry I'm not including the artists names and the title of the artists with the posts.  It violates everything I know from writing Art History papers.  But I will tell you if anybody asks, I do have the information to support the images and when I have the time I will go back in and add the info!

Citrus, Anyone?

One of the works in the Amway Plaza hotel.

One of our Room Mates

These are ceramic leaves suspended over a beautiful ceramic base.  It's in the hallway between the two restaurants at San Chez.

Hip Hip Hooray!

Talk about great volunteers!  Meegan, who offered her home to Earle also served as  a volunteer registering voters on opening day.   A round of warm applause for Meegan!

Friends in the Grove

I made some great pals three years ago in Volterra who live in Detroit and they drove to GR last night for dinner.  Meet Matt and Rachel, two architects that went to University of Detroit - Mercy.  Oh, and thats the installation behind us!

This is for all you printmakers out there.  Here's the print and the block!  It's a big block and print.  Think Jill Fitterer and Denise Lauerman!