ArtPrize Experience 2015


“Vision” by Debra Hartman

Lexi Manning and Caitlin Walsh

On a cold, cloudy Saturday,  we (Jr. Lexi Manning and Soph. Caitlin Walsh) venture into busy downtown Grand Rapids to look at art. The international art competition draws in multitudes of visitors and showcases over a thousand art pieces each year. With three miles to cover in four hours, we certainly have our day cut out for us to look at all the art we possibly can. The two of us, along with Uncle Eric, recorded some notes throughout the day on what we observed and thought:

1:01 PM

As we near the city, something catches our eye. What’s in the sky? What is it carrying? Coming into Grand Rapids, we find it is actually a plane carrying a banner saying “Welcome to ArtPrize 2015!” And so it begins.

ArtPrize Banner Eric Carlson
ArtPrize Banner

1:03 PM

At the parking garage, parked by a bright lime green car. It’s cold through our heavy jackets.

1:17 PM

Fingers are numb already. Coming up from the underground parking lot, the first thing we see is this huge, red dragon. Time to take pictures.

Red dragon sculpture made by Eric Carlson
“I used to be an octopus” by Lou Rodriquez

1:33 PM

In the “Processing Fibers” area, we encounter incredible art projects. The room smells of drywall as we look down at the masses from the 3rd floor. Since this floor is all about processing fibers, we walk in and see amazing works of art strung all over the second floor of the building, and there were no complaints from any of us looking around.

Probably the coolest piece here Eric Carlson
“Linear Motion” by Amie Adelman
Eric Carlson
“Keeping Up Appearances” by Ashley Blalock
Eric Carlson
“50 Bouquets” by Liz Miller

1:45 PM

Now we’re packed into a tiny elevator with about eight other people, excluding the three of us. Hardly enough room to breathe in here, but we do this for the art.

1:50 PM

Everyone is donned with coats and scarves as they stand in awe of the interesting art that surrounds us, and everyone’s fingers are most likely frozen as are ours. It’s kind of hard to appreciate art when your toes are freezing. The smell of cinnamon warms us as we enter the Devos building.

Eric Carlson
“Americana” by Brian Sullivan
Eric Carlson
“The Clothes Have No Emperor” by Jenny Ustick
Eric Carlson
“I Am You” by Ahni Sallaway

2:03 PM

Packed in the hallways of the Devos building was like being packed in a can of sardines. There’s stuff to look at everywhere. The hallway is so hot, people are carrying their winter coats and complaining about the heat all around us.

Eric Carlson

"Sea of Gold" by Gary Odmark Eric Carlson
“Sea of Gold” by Gary Odmark
"Vision" by Debra Hartman
“Vision” by Debra Hartman
Eric Carlson
“Spring Trees” by Clark art Studio
Eric Carlson
“Flight” by Sarah Heath
Eric Carlson
“Jack Installation” by Kaiser Suidan

2:22 PM

So much to look at, including this unsuitably freezing wedding. The couple looks so cold with their wedding party. So much for a cool city wedding in early October.

2:47 PM

We’ve been waiting in this line since 2:30 in the freezing rain to break some plates for a interactive art piece. Hopefully, this will pay off. Our legs hurt and our stomachs are growling.

"Venus Rising" by Tuck Langland Eric Carlson
“Venus Rising” by Tuck Langland

3:06 PM

The art piece “Breakthrough” was a psychological piece showing the shards of what people were trying to break through, hence the name. And we were some of the lucky ones to add our own personal troubles to the art. A weight felt as if it had been lifted from each of us, as we broke our plates that read “perfectionism” and “anxiety.”

"BREAKTHROUGH" by Breakthrough Team Eric Carlson
“BREAKTHROUGH” by Breakthrough Team
Uncle Eric at Breakthrough Lexi Manning
Uncle Eric at Breakthrough
Lexi Manning and Caitlin Walsh at Breakthrough Eric Carlson
Lexi Manning and Caitlin Walsh at Breakthrough

3:12 PM

Our limbs are thawing in Taco Bob’s as we eat our Mexican-themed meal and wait to venture out into the cold again. Sitting down for the first time all day feels great.

Our food at Taco Bob's Lexi Manning
Our food at Taco Bob’s
Lexi Manning

4:13 PM

We just witnessed the end of a very empowering speech at the GRAM. Anything can be art. There are a few really cool pieces here.

"Anishinaabensag Biimskowebshkiewag (Native Kid Ride Bikes)" By Dylan Miner Monroe Aki D'Bryant A.K.A Akibang "Blue Go-Go" by Anne Lemanski "As Above" by Judith Braun Eric Carlson
“Anishinaabensag Biimskowebshkiewag (Native Kid Ride Bikes)” By Dylan Miner
Monroe Aki D’Bryant A.K.A Akibang
“Blue Go-Go” by Anne Lemanski
“As Above” by Judith Braun

5:37 PM

Just leaving ArtPrize and it’s so nice to finally relax our hurting feet in a warm car with a delicious smoothie to sip on. A very successful day spent today in Grand Rapids.

Eric Carlson
Bye Grand Rapids!

Within four hours, we not only saw amazing artwork, but we ate delicious tacos, felt all of our limbs go numb at once, heard the chatter of easily a few thousand people, and smelled the crisp fall air. It was a really great experience for both of us, and actually a pretty good way to create a friendship. Our favorite part was probably being downtown and enjoying all the art, and each other’s company.