This year I noticed my prior taxonomy held up so well that I couldn't think of anything useful to add to it. I think you may someday see a rise of ArtPrize Hacks, but that's another story.
Instead, I noticed something about venues and how they differ. Some venues are absolutely amazing and others are less so.
Crowded and Possibly Overrated
I also made the mistake of going through the Grand Rapids Art Museum on the Saturday afternoon of ArtPrize. Big mistake. It had two monumental pencil sketches that looked cool, but not so cool that I want to brave the crowds for them. And besides, didn't we do monumental pencil sketches in earlier years?
Someday I'll blog about why Rich People Are Stupid. But that's for another day.
A lot of downtown watering holes have a few items they put up and I'm glad they do, but I wish some of them would take it more seriously. It irritated me when venues weren't open when everyone else was, or had closed early.
It's really nice when a venue has arrows directing people to the art. If they do a good job of making non-customers like me feel comfortable and welcome, I'll be more likely to come back as a customer the next time I'm hungry or thirsty.
Last year Coit Elementary school had this marvelous 3-story high painting that I mentioned. Sadly, Coit Elementary has only two entrants.
Diamonds In The Rough
There are several churches that host a number of entries like City View and Monroe Community. They are pleasant spaces and have a surprising mix of good pieces, message pieces and refrigerator art. These venues generally lie beyond walking distance from downtown.
The best exemplar of this type of venue is Baker Tent Rental. The best part of Baker Tent is their "didn't get into ArtPrize" reception this Saturday that showcases artists who didn't make the ArtPrize cut. They plan to serve snacks to starving artists!
Lemons Into Lemonade
The recession has caused some large commercial office spaces to remain unrented and unfinished. One such is High Five. They've taken a huge open space on the fifth floor of an office building and filled it with art. They have benches set up in front of art that are made of boards resting on cinder blocks. They have large windows that allow people to see some of the huge installations in adjacent parking garage stairwells. Finally, they have a wonderful dynamic light sculpture using LEDs suspended from CAT5 Ethernet cables. The best part of this installation are the recliners that let me put up my weary feet. Good show guys.
In addition to having tough economic times High Five has a tough location. It's hard to find and easy to miss. So, they put up helpful signs leading to the elevator in the parking garage and hired a pleasant girl to welcome & direct visitors.
By all means get downtown and see ArtPrize.