Last week at the third installment of ArtPrize on Tap we had the opportunity to hear from the curators at two of ArtPrize’s Exhibition Centers. Kendall College of Art and Design curator Michele Bosak and Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts curator AJ Paschka each shared their thoughts on creating their exhibitions for ArtPrize 2014, and gave us a sneak peek at some of the artist they are excited about.

Exhibition Centers serve as anchor points situated throughout the ArtPrize district, with large, professionally curated, must-see shows to draw visitors to each neighborhood of the ArtPrize district during the event. They offer services such as assistance with registering and voting during the ArtPrize event and selling ArtPrize merchandise. ArtPrize 2014 Exhibition Centers are Kendall College of Art and Design, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, and Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum.

Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) curator Michele Bosak incorporated her ArtPrize 2014 show into KCAD’s 2014 – 2015 cascading series of exhibitions relating to the larger theme of "identity." Their ArtPrize 2014 theme “I Am: Money Matters” will kick off KCAD’s exhibition season, showcasing artists that reflect on the themes of socioeconomics, value, currency, and consumerism as they relate to identity, in both sentimental and material ways. Bosak discussed her reasoning for selecting three artists' entries in particular for this year's ArtPrize exhibitin.

Tengo hambre: For his installation Tengo hambre, Maximo Gonzalez repeatetly etched the phrase “tengo hambre” on grains of rice, encapsulating them in acrylic and mounting them on a white wooden board. From a distance, his piece appears quiet – it’s only when you look at it up close that you can see the phrase etched again and again, a commentary on how poverty is all around us but is something that we often cannot, or choose not to, see. Poverty is a global issue—almost half of the Mexican population lives in poverty. Yet it is also a local problem, as many right here in Kent County are food insecure. The wall adjacent to Gonzalez’s installation will list the wide variety of resources that we have right here in West Michigan, giving anyone in need or those who want to be a part of the solution the information and tools they need.

Capitalism Works for Me! True/False: Artist Steve Lambert sees art as a bridge that connects uncommon or radical ideas with everyday life. Lambert creates conditions that allow for the viewer to participate with his work collaboratively, sometimes finishing his work for him. His ArtPrize 2014 installation Capitalism Works for Me! True/False, a patriotic themed marquee with a voting station, is a playful approach to encourage conversation on this difficult topic. Bosak chose this installation to encouage conversation in downtown Grand Rapids this fall about money and what we value in our culture.

Operation Paydirt/Fundred Dollar Bill Project: 2013 Juried Grand Prize juror Mel Chin has also entered ArtPrize 2014, with his installation Operation Paydirt/Fundred Dollar Bill Project. One Chin’s most ambitious works dealing with social activism, this particular installation fit perfectly into KCAD’s theme. A response to the devastating problem of lead contaminated soils putting children at risk for severe learning disabilities and behavioral problems in post-Katrina New Orleans and cities across the country, Operation Paydirt seeks to raise awareness and become a model for making cities lead-safe across the United States. This project works with community-based organizations to disseminate lesson plans about lead poisoning to schools. The Fundred (a combination of ‘funding’ and ‘hundred’), an expression of real monetary value, is a printable template which children can fill in and send to a collection center. All Fundreds will be delivered to Washington DC, giving children a voice and offering this grassroots initiative as a way for the government to recognize the issue, in hopes for an exchange of real dollars to remediate the problem. The Fundreds collected at ArtPrize 2014 will be displayed on the wall of the installation for the duration of the event and then sent to an Operation Paydirt collection center.

We also had the chance to hear from Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) curator AJ Paschka, who chose the theme “Collaboration” to guide the development of UICA’s ArtPrize 2014 exhibition. UICA seeks to build creative community and promote collaboration, and while putting together this year’s ArtPrize show, Paschka kept coming back to the vision of artists defining their own success and getting away from the competitive nature of the event to find inspiration in their design process and work. Paschka chose 20 artists to cover UICA’s five floors, encouraging them to harmonize their ambitions and work together, selecting four artists' entries to share with us.

Hey YouTube, It's Me: Aaron Nemec uses contemporary media—gifs, animations, videos—to create his work. For his ArtPrize 2014 entry, Nemec has capitalized on the karaoke craze, producing a piece that invites all ages into the creative process, pulling people out from behind their computer screens out of the inherent isolation of social media. Nemec will call for individuals in Grand Rapids and beyond to submit their own YouTube performances, to sing along with a song and upload it to be a part of the project. The result of this collaborative performance, Hey YouTube, It’s Me, will be displayed at UICA during ArtPrize 2014.

Exposed: GRMakers will fill a unique space at UICA this fall, installing a giant interactive, ribbon-like chandelier in a 60-foot tall space in the UICA’s stairwell. Exposed is a lighted, multimedia piece made of steel, fabric, stained glass, and LED lights. The piece will remain coiled tightly until the audience completes a task, interacting with the piece as well as each other to force it to open, revealing the interior. And it will serve as a beacon of light from the UICA down Louis Street in downtown Grand Rapids.

MusicX: Micah Silver and Adam Schoenberg will debut a beta version of their virtual reality speed learning system, MusicX, that will allow about 10,000 ArtPrize 2014 visitors to learn the history of music in less than five minutes followed by a pure experience of music. This project is presented jointly by the UICA and Grand Rapids Symphony.

Intelligence of the Bee Hive: Ladislav Hanka, a printmaker, started feeding his prints into a bee hive to create completely new works of art. The bees in the hive chew the paper, making holes and creating new patterns, encrusting the prints in bees wax. The 30 to 40 pieces of Intelligence of the Bee Hive will be encased in polymer and displayed, reminiscent of a natural history museum.

See all of the mentioned artists’ work during ArtPrize 2014, September 24 to October 12, in downtown Grand Rapids.

ArtPrize on Tap is a monthly gathering that offers ArtClub members the opportunity to connect year-round, stay on the ArtPrize insider track with exclusive presentations from ArtPrize experts, curators, venues, and staff, and enjoy good food and beer with one of ArtPrize’s beloved sponsors, Founders Brewing Co. ArtPrize on Tap meets on the third Wednesday of every month in Founders' Centennial Room from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., with the presentation beginning at 6:00 p.m. Free for ArtClub members, other friends of ArtPrize can join us for $10. Reserve your spot through Eventbrite (ArtClub members will receive a promo code with their invites).

On tap on August 20: Taste the new Founders ArtPrize 2014 custom featured brew at our much-anticipated, exclusive debut.

By Jaenell Woods on