Art Prize and Calvin College art residency – fall 2014
My siblings in Grand Rapids, Michigan have been giving me on-site reports of Art Prize for the past few years each fall, asking when I was going to exhibit something. Art Prize is a yearly art explosion downtown each fall, with 190 venues showing over 1500 pieces of art. Art Prize 2014 was the 6th year the event took place and it was bigger than ever, drawing nearly a ½ million people to downtown. I decided that if The Coming, the center piece of the Angel/Beast exhibit could be successfully crated, moved and installed at Art Prize at an acceptable venue, that I would commit to nearly a month of being in Grand Rapids. Indeed, the art buzz in the city was palatable, with art of all types, sizes, execution and quality almost everywhere downtown, including venues such as Meijers Gardens on the edge of the city. This year, 48 states and 50 countries were represented and indeed, many gems were on exhibit, also plenty of mediocrity and more abominations that I care to recall. I was invited to exhibit at the Grand Rapids Brewing Co. in the heart of the brewery district at the corner of Ionia and Fulton. The installation was challenging; place the 2500 lb. clay assemblage on a brick wall, over a stairwell. It entailed building a scaffold and hammer-drilling the 12, 200+ lb. sections in place and it couldn’t have happened without the competent carpentry help of my brother Case and his son Stephen. It took others to help de-install, re-crate and load onto a trailer that I purchased especially for the occasion, but I intend to move more large-scale work to various venues for exhibit in the future. The piece looked great on site, especially with side daylight and viewed from below. Most people that paused to look at it were blown away and thanked me for showing it. As a bar, the lights were dimmed at night and it actually looked like it belonged there in the historic building, a point that was often made and many thought it should stay, though it didn’t get the exposure that the many art and convention hall display venues received with better light and more traffic. It was a good experience, however, and we’ll see what “over the top” work develops for me next year. I have ideas, of course.
My sister Kerrie(the most prolific collector of my art) and her husband Frank Doezema were gracious about opening their home in Grand Rapids to me and I was warmly hosted for the month. Two of their married children lived in town and were also keen to see my portfolio and have become serious print collectors. Probably the highlight of being in GR was an artist-in-residency at my undergraduate alma mater, Calvin College. I was welcomed to the ceramic studios and set up a work area while taking over firing “Big Bertha”, an old kiln(one I fired 45 yrs ago) with 17 gas burners and which took 2 days to cool down given its size and hard brick content in some of the interior. I produced a strong group of multi-sectional ware and marble ware pieces. It was a great time to share techniques, glazes and work with students again. You can see my work on the top shelves in the kiln opening pic. One of the best tips art professor Anna Greidanis gave me was to use compressed air to clear the spy hole in the kiln under reduction to see the guide cones – a great help when firing my own wood/gas unit at the studio here in Iowa. I presented my style of gesture to a drawing class and gave a mono-print workshop as well while at Calvin. I really enjoy short-term workshops and residencies and plan to do more in Northwest Iowa and other colleges and Universities in the area. I have also committed to a week of workshops, and chapels with elementary and high schools in California’s Central Valley next February, 2015.