I walked out of the parking garage onto a sad stretch of wet concrete. Welcome to downtown Grand Rapids. ArtPrize is a three week event, and we picked the nastiest day.
I searched for art. A giant metal dragon, a Rube Goldberg machine and a confession booth sat in the courtyard in front of the county offices. A man in a big blue coat took pictures of the Rube Goldberg. A few couples and families scuttled from piece to piece. A girl pulled her chin into her fleece jacket and shoved her arms into the pockets, and she shivered as she ran off with her boyfriend, who pulled his hood up and hunched his shoulders.
Everyone was cold.
I walked a block or two and stood in line at the old art museum. It was the closest indoor exhibit. I fidgeted in the cold to keep the blood moving. A short lady gave me a free cold brew coffee sample, because I looked too warm, apparently. The line could have moved faster.
The volunteers kept me from going in just as I was about to enter. I stood at the door and waited. My eyes glazed over. ArtPrize felt pretty disappointing.
I went inside and entered the gallery. I passed a sculpture made of burned wood. I turned right and entered a hushed room full of people. Hundreds of ceramic plates hung on the wall from top to bottom. People whispered, and a crowd loomed over the Artist’s Statement.
see part 2