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!