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ArtPrize Here we Come!


If you do a Google search on 3-D Street Art, one of the first names to pop up is Edgar Mueller.  He’s been doing this fascinating form of art for a lot of years so his work is front and center in the world of the “Art of Deception.”

In this form, artists use chalk or pastels to render pictures that use perspective to give illusion of three-dimensionality on streets, parks and public places.

And guess what?  He’s right here in Grand Rapids having created a very large 3-d work on the parking lot of a little treasure of a gallery on Ionia near Leonard.   The City Art Gallery is a cooperative of sorts, organized by  a group of local artists to show  local and emerging artists’ work.

Edgar arrived ready to paint and has been working steadily on “The Phoenix,” finishing some time after ArtPrize official started.  He told me, “I normally don’t get this much time so I’m continuing to work.”

His work also might be called site-specific art work which is quite interesting to me.  In other words, the piece is created for that spot and won’t be hauled away after ArtPrize.

Seems like I’ve seen a lot of site specific work at this year’s ArtPrize. It simply means that the work has been created for that site.  It may stay there or be adapted for another site.

Several large sculptures at Kendall College of Art and Design come to mind.  So does the huge mural on the wall of WMCAT and  everything in the old J.A. Building sponsored and curated by Site-Lab.

The huge rubber band installation titled “Here to Me”  at UICA.

I haven’t had a chance to get down by the river and see some of the installations there but I suspect they are “site-specific.”  Hopefully now that our nasty weather has gone away, I can find time to view more of our huge ArtExtravaganza.

I do feel compelled to comment though on the major brouhaha that has spewed forth over the Top Ten selections.  Lots of criticisms and comments along the lines of “The sky is falling.”

I’ve heard, “The top ten selections are embarrassing us…  What were they thinking?”

I’ve seen Facebook, MLive posts and many other commentaries along these lines lines and worse.  It appears that Grand Rapids has just become the laughing stock of the art world.

Enough to make Rick DeVos run off to his family’s island in the BVI’s and hide out.  Can’t say that I’d blame him.  Going to take a very thick skin to deal with the nasties out there.

And some  of the criticism is amusing.  For example, Bret Colley, Art Professor at Grand Valley shared this video on his Facebook page.  If you have seen any of ArtPrize you’ll find some kernels of truth in its sarcasm.

But then I think about something Don Hahn, World Class animator and movie producer for Walt Disney and Pixar.  His credits include “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Lion King” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”  He  spoke to Kendall College of Art and Design students last year and has recently published a book on creativity.

He told the students, “To be an artist you have to fail fast and fail often.  If you want to succeed faster you have to increase your failures.  That’s how you learn.”

Clearly some people think there’s a lot of learning going on at ArtPrize.” At least we hope so.

His book: Brain Storm: Unleasing Your Creative Self” sounds like a typical self help book but its really good. I found it to be funny,  delightful and an inspirational read.

And so I’ll leave my post today with that thought and then these contrasts.  I found these two different treatments of fashion at ArtPrize totally fascinating.  Talk about range.  The Wearable Art at the Kendall Gallery and the Hen House at 50 Fulton.


I hope you’ll share your thoughts in the comment section.



Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Oct 2, 2011 Reply

    Good insights, Susan. They enhance the dialogue. Though the critics at the critical discourse on the Top Ten ArtPrize selections had a lot to say, in many ways they were virtually speechless.

    • posted by
      Oct 2, 2011 Reply

      Oh, I’m sorry I couldn’t attend that.  The conversations are interesting, aren’t they?  

  2. posted by
    Oct 3, 2011 Reply

    More great observations, Susan. Have you  been to Meijer Gardens yet? I think it’s my favorite venue this year, and I discovered my hands down, favorite piece there today. It’s by Steven Knapp, and it has been proclaimed to be the best new artistic medium of the 21st century. An abstraction in light. I loved it… the most!
    BTW… do you know if there is to be a jury of experts weighing in next year? Needed!

    • posted by
      Oct 3, 2011 Reply

      Hi, I got to Meijer Garden today too.  Didn’t get to really focus on the Artprize entries because I was there with 3 and a half year old Madelyn and six month old Avery.  We moved pretty quickly through the ArtPrize gallery and out to the Children’s area.  Had a lovely time there. Highlights included spotting a garden snake and eight turtles on a log at the swampy area.  Guess I need to go back to see ArtPrize. Will check out your fav when I do.  Thanks for the suggestion. I think I know which one you are talking about…….sjs 

  3. posted by
    Oct 3, 2011 Reply

    AND… thanks for including the great links in your blog.

  4. posted by
    Margaux Drake
    Oct 3, 2011 Reply

    Fail fast and fail often. That IS how we learn.

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