Excuse me, are you listening? 14-21
Saturday, October 17, 2015


 Rina Risper, President & Publisher of The New Citizens Press
Dear Readers,
I love art, museums and anything quirky, weird or painted by a master.  At the end of college, I spent a lot of time in New York City museums just being in awe of the ages and the fact that I was in the same space as a painting worth millions of dollars.
In Lansing, I found myself at galleries looking for pieces for my home and office.  I think that I have finally enough pieces.  If I could fit large metal artwork into my home, I probably would have it too.  Those pieces are too large though, even though I do have a piece that I saw in Richard Galosy’s studio when it was open in Old Town on East Grand River.  I miss him. He moved to New Jersey.
I also miss Robert Busby.  He was like a father to me.  I always saw the pre-opening showing at the Creole Gallery because I would make sure that I was always delivering newspapers when a new show was being hung.  After he passed away, The New Citizens Press’ 10-year anniversary party was held there while his daughter Ena Busby was the owner.  I have great memories.  The Creole Gallery no longer exists and it has been replaced by a restaurant. I hear they have great food.  I have not been to the restaurant yet but I am sure that I will stop by soon.
Art has been ingrained me since young. I had heard so much about this huge art event called ArtPrize in Grand Rapids.  So this year, I called Ena and asked her to accompany me.  It was special having her there.  She is so patient.  I am attracted to shiny things and become easily distracted.  I had her all over the place.  We did not have a plan but we were able to see a lot of art in a short period of time.  
ArtPrize was amazing.  There was so much to see and for a first timer it could be overwhelming.  I consider myself very well versed but ArtPrize offered so much, I could hardly balance or see everything that needed to be seen.  There was film, music, photography, sculptures and all things interesting.
ArtPrize ArtPrize took place from September 23 to October 11.  It is an international art competition, open to any artist and decided by public  and expert jury vote. It invites artists to try out new ideas on a large and diverse population of people. It seeks to broaden the critical dialogue around contemporary art by awarding the world’s largest art prize.
Two $200,000 awards are decided by public vote and expert jury, and an additional $100,000 in prizes is also awarded to the top entries in each category. Registered artists and venues connect online at artprize.org and agree to present the artwork for public display during the 19- day event. The public votes using mobile devices and the web to distribute their awards, while a group of international art experts determines the winners of the juried awards.   
ArtPrize  2015 included 1,550 entries.  In 2014, entries representing 51 countries and 42 U.S. states and territories participated. ArtPrize 2014 attracted more than 400,000 active participants. Since its inception, individuals of all backgrounds have cast more than 2.4 million votes for public art plus the almost 423,000 votes in 2015.
You cannot experience ArtPrize in one day.  I went three times and still was not able to see it all. It is incredible that they fit so much art into the ArtPrize district, which spans three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids, MI, and any space within its boundary can be an ArtPrize venue. There are two exceptions, Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and SiTE:LAB are the only venues located outside the boundaries.
On the way to several venues, I was drawn away by musicians playing on the street.  Not the street musicians that you are used to seeing but two pre teen girls playing  bluegrass on the violin.  Pigtails flying as their heads rested on the chin rests.  Dressed in denim skirts, people gathering around them and clapped and spurred them to play on with at bit of hoots and a little hollering.  In my mind’s eye, I thought as I turned the corner there would be a home cooked meal with all the fixings laid out on top of a red and white checkered tablecloth.  However, no such luck.  And we were on to another venue. 
I am better prepared for next year but it will take several days to grasp the entire concept.  Grand Rapids is a beautiful and growing town.  Every time I visited I saw something different.  I like the idea that they split the purse down the middle so that you do not feel cheated out of loving your favorite piece.
According to a press release, since expanding in 2010 to include both public and juried awards, ArtPrize has sought to use its unique parallel awards structure – splitting the $500,000 purse evenly between public vote and juried awards – to spark lasting dialogue about public and art world perceptions of art. The participation of the jurors also presents the opportunity for leading curators, critics and institutional representatives to engage the public in their distinct and diverse viewpoints, pointing out new frameworks for interpreting and viewing art and encouraging a conversation around what makes art impactful and significant.
Ann Loveless of Frankfort won the public vote for "Northwood Awakening," a huge quilt and photographic print hybrid that depicts a woodland panorama. The quilt is on display at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.  She also won the public vote in 2013. She won $200,000 for year. 
The juried vote of $200,000 Grand Prize went to "Higher Ground," by Kate Gilmore, from New York, at SiTE:LAB's Rumsey Street Project.
“Higher Ground” consisted of a pink house and women swinging on swings mounted inside.  Where windows should have been were open so that they could swing in and out of the openings.  This was all choreographed beautifully.  
ArtPrize will be held from September 21 – October 9, 2016.   For more information, log on to www.artprize.org.
There is a reason that art exists.  It is difficult to put into words what you are seeing because of differing perceptions of the pieces.  You will just have to schedule some time to go to Grand Rapids during ArtPrize.  If you are an art lover, you will fall in love over and over again.
Love people,
Rina Risper
P.S.  Please enjoy our college edition.  
This column was printed in the October 17, 2015 - October 31, 2015

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