Reasons to Visit the GRAM During ArtPrize

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With ArtPrize now in its 10th year, locals and visitors alike are venturing around Grand Rapids, taking in the best art they can find.

The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) has always been a staple ArtPrize venue—for good reason. From outdoor installations to large-scale nighttime projections on the building's exterior, learn more about the art with an impact the GRAM has in store.

"It touched me with grief in a way that the AIDS crisis did—and though I didn't know any of these people, I wanted to honor and eulogize them," said Ann Arbor artist John Gutoskey, speaking about his ArtPrize entry PULSE Nightclub: 49 Elegies.

Gutoskey's art is a series of 49 individual monoprints that honor and commemorate each who died in the PULSE nightclub massacre on June 12, 2016. He describes feeling loss and anger that such a tragedy could occur in a space seen as sacred and safe to the LGBTQ community and other minority groups. Themes of robins and crows are commonly seen throughout the works, something Gutoskey notes represent compassion and intelligence.

"They're beautiful, just like queer people."

Pacific Quilt—a giant, map-like quilt of the Pacific Ocean—is created by Wisconsin-based artist Sarah FitzSimons. The idea came to her in 2011, during a flight across the Pacific Ocean, when she imagined wrapping herself in an ocean of blue.

FitzSimons began executing the idea in 2013 and has worked on it on and off ever since. Varying shades of blue fabric represent the ocean's underwater topography, while the quilting lines denote ocean currents.

"It's like you could say my hands have touched every part of the Pacific Ocean," FitzSimons said.

Though there isn't a chosen theme for ArtPrize entries at the GRAM, visitors may find themselves drawing parallels between the works.

"The Grand Rapids Art Museum is delighted to present 10 artists in ArtPrize 10 at GRAM," said GRAM Chief Curator Ron Platt. "The artists in the exhibition are grappling with urgent social issues and the current state of public and private discourse surrounding these issues. I look forward to seeing how our visitors will engage with the work on view."

The exhibition showcases a broad range of contemporary art by local, regional, national and international artists—competing in every ArtPrize category: 2D, 3D, Time-Based and Installation.

Other ArtPrize 10 at GRAM artists and exhibitions are:

The Labor of Love
Conrad Egyir | American, b. Ghana 1989
(Oil, mounted plexiglass and wood on canvas)

The Word on the Street
Scott Froschauer | American, b. 1969
(Department of Transportation Specification street signs)

Saskia Jorda | American, b. Venezuela 1978
(Pots, pans, kitchen implements and yarn)

Nathaniel Lewis | American, b. 1981
(Powder-coated aluminum and plastic)

Wall of Sound
William R. Mayer | American, 1953 – 2017*
(Mixed media) *not eligible for voting

No Names
Mark Niskanen and Jani-Matti Salo | Finnish, b. 1991 and Finnish, b. 1984
(Performance installation)

Making Mends
Mark Newport | American, b. 1964
(Embroidery on cotton and muslin)

Animal Land: ArtPrize 10
Lauren Strohacker and Kendra Sollars | American, b. 1983 and American, b. 1987
(Digital video projection)

Also on view in the venue in which it was initially displayed, during ArtPrize 2014, is Anila Quayyum Agha's Intersections. Quayyum Agha's piece made ArtPrize history in 2014, taking home both the public vote and juried grand prizes.

ArtPrize runs September 19 – October 7.

Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for West Michigan Woman.

Photo courtesy of the GRAM.

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