By Angelina Jahn
After a year-long hiatus due to the pandemic, ArtPrize is back in Grand Rapids beginning Thurs., Sept. 16. Three outdoor entries will be located at Grand Rapids Community College on the south end of the. Juan R. Olivarez Student Plaza.
“GRCC is proud to be part of ArtPrize. We’re able to showcase wonderful artists and be a part of a community celebration of all things creative and innovative,” stated GRCC Communications Director Dave Murray. “We welcome community members to see the artwork, then also invite them to take a peek inside our newly renovated Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall and learn how a GRCC education can change lives.”
Childhood friends Liz Albert and Shane VanOosterhout came together to create the piece “Instant Classic”, which centers around discarded Polaroid camera photographs captioned with humorous phrases written by the two artists.
“In today’s digital universe, we remain transfixed by the Polaroid camera’s clever design and the vibrant memory-object it leaves behind,” reads their artist statement.
“Good Breeding Stock”, created by Niarus Walker, depicts a male and a female, with the male lower half becoming a bull and the female lower half becoming a cow, each breaking a chain. The sculpture was crafted using recycled coax cable debris left behind from Hurricane Maria.
“The image represents the very tangible reality of how enslaved Africans were bred as cattle from the fittest of the population in order to harvest a stronger breed that could survive the hardships of slavery in much the same way as the Senepol was bred to be less susceptible to diseases and withstand the harsh Caribbean climate,” wrote Walker in her artist statement. “The sculpture is built out of the trauma and also represents resilience, determination and strength of the people of the African Diaspora.”
Retired chemist Jerry Bahls has a love for the look and feel for buckthorn wood, which he works with exclusively. Bahls used this to create his sculpture “Mantis on Mushroom”, which depicts a mantis sitting atop a mushroom on the wood.
These artists, along with all others featured in this year’s competition, will have the chance to be awarded by the public via the new ArtPrize game. ArtPrize visitors exploring downtown Grand Rapids should keep an eye for ArtPrize signage, which will feature QR codes that can be scanned using smartphone cameras. A link will pop up leading you to the ArtPrize game. A prize, either monetary or non-monetary, will appear on your screen, where you will then be able to award it to your favorite artist.
The monetary prizes range from $250 to $1,500, and total $150,000. The non-monetary prizes awarded will be titles, such as the “You Gotta See It Twice Prize”, or “The Crazy Realistic Prize.” The more an artist is awarded, the higher their chances of receiving the $50,000 grand prize.
ArtPrize will conclude Sunday, Oct. 3.