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Art Prize 2013 First Impressions


 I attended an ArtPrize event last week where a friend said, “I am looking for your recommendations for what to see.”  Hmmm.

Not a problem.  Right off the bat, I’d say, “Go see the G-Rap Map” at 33 Sheldon.  Yep. Shameless promotion.  It’s our son–Justin Smith’s entry.   It is representational of his J-Storm Urban Maps. It’s really impressive.   Hope you get to see it and click here to learn more about his ventures.   It’s pretty exciting. And yes, please vote for him.    (And if you want more information, here’s his web site).

After you’ve enjoyed the map and found the Calder,  I’d suggest heading over to Site-Lab at 54 Jefferson.   Justin also has an entry in the 54 Jeff Contest–designed to generate ideas for what to do with the building.  It’s been empty for years.  The entries are anonymous so you’ll have to guess which one is his.  All of them are interesting and worth looking at.  Imaginative and creative.

Site-Lab is fabulous as always.  The vinyl treatment of the main space is spectacular. Don’t miss the installations upstairs and through out the building.  Site-Lab adds so much to the life of our community.



 Another venue I highly recommend is Kendall College Art and Design.  The light sculptures are fascinating.  The pieces in this venue have been carefully selected and its worth spending some time there.  It’s also a place where you can register.  The young Kendall students who helped me through the process were patient and made it very easy.


And what else?  You can’t miss the flag/banners in the Grand River.  Reminds me a bit of the kind of thing Cristo does, on a smaller scale.  Certainly a happy addition to the Grand River.  Wouldn’t it be fun to kayak around them?


I always stop in at  Women’s City Club.  I loved my friend Dianne Carroll Burdick’s photography. She does great work.   I also found the airstream painting interesting.

I’d suggest heading to Fountain Street Church.  As always they have powerful entries with a message. This year gun violence is a major topic.

 For example, you can see a huge drawing of a gun that participants will erase using erasers with victims names on them. Lots of symbolism and layers with this one.

Another one that stopped me in my tracks Is the large photographic images of people who have been killed by gun violence.  As you look at the changing images you hear the ominous booming of gun shots.

 The installation highlighting sex trade issues is sobering. I’m not so sure I can talk about it….so upsetting.

 I hope readers will make suggestions about what to be sure to see at ArtPrize 2013 in the comment section below.  

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
    Sep 23, 2013 Reply

    I wish I could be there to actually witness the G-Rap Map, what an incredible, time consuming art piece!

    • posted by
      Sep 25, 2013 Reply

      I wish you could too! Now Justin has added layer it is even more amazing. Art and technology.

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