September 28, 2016

ArtPrize 2016: Meijer Gardens

I dipped my toe into ArtPrize with a stop at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. While there were several interesting pieces that I will chat about below, there was nothing that totally wowed me. Definitely some pieces I would vote thumbs up on but nothing I would beg you to go see with your own eyeballs. Know what I mean? And of course I am lucky enough to experience art with my children in tow; I am always amused at their reactions. They seem very accepting of absurdity.

The pieces on display at the Meijer Gardens are all fitting the chosen theme: Almost Home: Grand Rapids In Focus. So each artist is reacting in some way to our city, whether or not that experience was one of a native or an outsider.

Ditch Lily Drawing
Nathan Lareau

This one appealed to both myself and my children because it is made of the dried stems left behind when day lilies are done blooming. My kiddos are always plucking them up out of the ground and repurposing them as wands and swords and nature stew stirrers. So they were quite delighted to realize that was what this piece was created with. The other element that makes this piece special is light and shadow. I will admit it is rather simple but I like it all the same. And yes, it does make me wonder what I could glue to the wall!

Seeking Stillness
Joyce Recker

I like the nest! Y'all know I really like nests and I can appreciate the artist's use of one as a symbol of home and shelter. As a designer, I appreciate small, well thought-out details and this piece does not disappoint. The end caps of the bottom piece of wood are each tiny little house shapes, stained in a darker contrasting color. Love that.

Bundle Field
Kurt Kaiser and John Cloud Kaiser

The impact of this aptly named installation was bright and cheerful and oh-so-big. Apparently the two artists hosted several gatherings where the guests worked together to construct these giant bundles all made of a crazy kaleidoscope of repurposed materials roped together. I like the community aspect of this and the idea of what is basically an art-making party really appeals to me. And of course I appreciate the bright colors!

Ode to W. Haldane (Pearl & Ottawa)
Cheryl Wassenaar

The artist for this piece has family ties to Grand Rapids and the furniture industry. In fact, the tools and the work bench both belonged to her father. The more intriguing aspect for me is of course the pieces of furniture that are emerging from the wall. I think they are a suitable symbol for all of history, personal and corporate as they are a subtle presence at all times – blending in but also being unavoidable.

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