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Grand Rapids, MI...and ArtPrize 2012!!!

We had a nice one-day train run out here. The weather was fall-like and rainy.
That didn't keep me from going out on the vestibule and taking one or two quick pics!

(cool swamp. stupid power lines.)

During this run I also watched All About Eve (courtesy Tom, thanks Tom!). What a great movie! Great acting!
We got in around 6pm, but I chose to stay in so I could get up early and explore the next day.

I found a trio of antique malls about a mile from the train and spent probably two hours looking at all the stuff I can't have. These malls had less WWI-II stuff and fewer dead animals than the southwest malls I've been to ;D The first one had the most 'bric-a-brac'; dish- and glassware from England mostly, and lots of 'country' themed items such as quilts, jugs, mason jars, cross-stitched things, farming equipment and signs, etc. The second shop was pretty empty by comparisson, but they had a flugelhorn near the door for $80. I took a picture and sent it to Brett (bandmaster) who drove over and scooped it up sometime after I'd left.
The third building had lots of stuff too, but I didn't stay too long because I'd already blown most of the afternoon in the first shop haha.

By this time I was starving, so wandered downtown to a Mediterranean place called Parsley (once again gravitating toward stuff that reminds me of Winston-Salem). Had an awesome beef kofta wrap. Those pickled turnips are the best! This was also my first experience with Turkish coffee. Wooooo! Had a coffee buzz for the next 6 hours.

Good thing too, because there was a lot to see.

At first glance, Grand Rapids seemed to be a pretty normal city.
I saw a bunch of people taking pictures of some glass flowers outside an office building.
Figured it must be part of their landscaping, or something.
Turned the corner, and found this under my feet:

I heard someone say, "OHMYGOD!!" and looked up to see THIS:

(That's a dummy, fyi. PHEW.)

My phone beeped. I had a text from Jerome (bass).

"There is a big arts festival thing with free exhibits and such going on all over downtown for the next couple of weeks. Just a heads up."

It's ArtPrize 2012!!!!

Apparently, modest little Grand Rapids hosts the WORLD'S LARGEST ART CONTEST.
Anyone over the age of 18 may participate.
The prize is $200,000, awarded by PUBLIC VOTE.

The venues are restaurants, businesses, public parks...pretty much the whole city.
Meaning that there was art EVERYWHERE. Hanging off buildings, in the middle of the street, and definitely on ALL the walls :D
Looking at the website, there are currently 1,517 entries(!!!)
I only got to see a fraction of it, but what I saw was completely amazing.

There were interactive sculptures that you could touch, or that made sounds, or that moved unexpectedly.
There were giant paintings covering stories of buildings, and some as small as 1 inch square.
There was art made of surprising materials, and portraying surprising things.
Grand Rapids straddles the Grand River, with several walking bridges for crossing to the opposite bank. There was art not only on the bridges and on the banks, but also ON THE WATER ITSELF.

I can't begin to post pictures of everything I saw. I really, REALLY encourage you to visit the website and check out the entries, along with descriptions of the art and artist bios. All of them are amazing. More than one person deserves the grand prize, for sure!!

Of the few works I was priveleged to see, here are some of my favorites.
I'm sorry for the poor quality of some photos.
There were LOTS of people and it was often hard to get a good shot.

I liked things that were "more than meets the eye", and there was plenty of that to be found!

This seal is carved from a single block of black walnut.
The artist had a representative there, and allowed us to touch the sculpture.
It was shockingly lifelike and looked soft (of course it wasn't).

I took a closer look at the 'fur', and asked the attendant, "Are these the wood grains?"
Her answer: "No, those are holes that the artist made by hand." Just...WOW.

Another favorite was this seemingly simple moon sketch.

I was about to walk away when I saw a table with magnifying glasses underneath the drawing.
I picked one up and had a look at a 3" section of the picture.

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This outdoor butterfly sculpture was very popular, and it was right across from our arena.

Nearby were some head-sized plexiglass discs fixed to poles.
I saw people goggling through them and went to have a look myself:

There were many more color variations too, but there were long lines at each disc so I only got this one.

The artist himself was standing next to this one, called "Joker".
It's made entirely of playing cards. My eyes started crossing trying to look at it.
He rolled his eyes at me and said, "Girl, read the sign. Hold up your phone." So I did!

Tricky! You can only see it with a phone or digital camera!
(yes, I know it says that on the sign. MAH BAD!)

Catty-corner to this was a mosaic that I thought was glass. Until I got closer. IT'S JELLYBEANS!!!

My other favorites were the outdoor artworks,
because it was just as much fun to watch people watching the art as it was to watch the art :D

This cubic structure was in an amphitheatre and got a lot of looks from passers-by:

People were invited to touch this "Tired" bird...made completely from repurposed tires.

One installation took up an entire bridge.
It was covered in bells, chimes, cans, and anything else that would make noise in the wind :)
People could walk through and touch all of the art, while enjoying the view.

(borrowed this view pic haha)

Speaking of making noise, here's a link to a video of some kids enjoying a musical sculpture.

Some teens gathered around Rosa Parks Circle
(a permanent misting fountain, not part of the exhibit, but still way cool)

Pictures of some other beautiful art:

So, in case you were wondering...in case you weren't sure...I had a great time in Grand Rapids :)