Cavalry, American Officers, 1921. Photo: Brian Kelly.

Cavalry, American Officers, 1921, the first-place winner of the 2010 ArtPrize Award by artist Chris LaPorte, will be on view at the Grand Rapids Art Museum for only two more weekends, until August 7. The piece will be transferred from its current location in GRAM’s DeVos/Van Andel East Court Gallery on August 8 to make room for preparations for GRAM’s 2011 ArtPrize installations.

The 28-foot-wide, pencil-on-paper drawing is being moved on Monday, August 8, 2011, and will be installed at a later date at 41 Sheldon Ave., home of The ArtPrize Hub. It will be viewable in the public lounge during ArtPrize 2011.

“Like the winner that preceded it, Cavalry has become a cherished icon of ArtPrize,” said Catherine Creamer, executive director of ArtPrize. “We are grateful to Chris LaPorte for participating in the ArtPrize competition and look forward to maintaining this piece as part of ArtPrize’s growing collection of inspiring artwork.”

More than 300,000 people have visited GRAM since the installation of Cavalry 11 months ago, making it among the most-viewed works of art in Grand Rapids. LaPorte’s large-scale drawing depicts a group of several uniformed officers in stunning detail. The work was inspired by a reference photo, depicting an event of cavalry officers stationed at Camp Grant, located outside of Rockford, Illinois. It was created in homage to LaPorte’s father, who died shortly before he started work on the drawing.

“It has been our honor to have exhibited the winners of the past two ArtPrize competitions,” said Dana Friis-Hansen, executive director of GRAM. “The ArtPrize event is an inventive, unorthodox approach to engaging the public with art, and the best contemporary art pushes the boundaries of the familiar into something extraordinary. We are looking forward to seeing what surprises ArtPrize has in store for 2011.”

Cavalry will be viewable to the public at GRAM for the next two weekends before de-installation begins on August 8. Chris LaPorte will be overseeing the transition to 41 Sheldon with the GRAM curatorial team.

“Cavalry offered a significant opportunity to combine a number of different portraits into one massive drawing,” said LaPorte. “Each face evokes its own tone and personality, like notes on a musical scale, which combined create something that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.”

LaPorte, who began his career making caricatures and other drawings, has spent nearly 20 years developing a personalized iconography of human life, more than 85,000 people, which he transforms into portraits and public installations of all sizes.

By Kevin Buist on