A week of ideas and events

My life is generally way too busy these days and this week took that to a whole new level of crazy. On Tuesday I went up to Grand Rapids to see ArtPrize with three friends. We missed more than we got to unsurprisingly - the event included more than 1700 artists this year and I didn't manage to see multiple friends' work so will have to try to make another trip if humanly possible.

We were particularly blown away by the works shown at GRAM - Grand Rapids Art Museum and UICA. At GRAM I was very impressed by the work of Young Kim's moving and evocative installation, Steven Sorman's beautiful and immense print,drawing and mixed media on paper, Al Wildey's digital on aluminum piece , Janice Arnold's amazing felt installation. Heechan Kim's sculpture was fascinating - wood and copper hanging in space. Perhaps the most interesting piece there was David Sprigg's. Installed in a large vitrine and comprised of multiple paintings on mylar suspended, making a dimensional image that changed with the viewer's angle, evoking the cosmos, it was thought provoking and fascinating. I'm skipping over plenty of other strong work in the interests of brevity.

UICA has work that is edgier, more political in content and more varied in how well it worked for me. Two particular standouts were Chris Jordan, whose work addresses the horrifying amount of consumer waste we generate. UICA has a number of his large digital prints which graphically demonstrate very large numbers of things like the number of plastic water bottles dumped every day. I was familiar with his work but had never seen it in person and the large scale adds plenty of impact to strong work.

Wayne Belger's Untouchable Camera series are a set of beautiful photographic prints of people who are HIV positive - shot through a filter and with a camera elaborately machined by the artist and using HIV positive blood as the red filter. The method is important and involved and my conversation with the artist made it clear how important his process is to the content of his work.

I didn't get to see the work of several friends so will need to make a follow-up trip to see installed work I've seen in progress by Brenda Oelbaum, Margaret Parker and Oliver Aguilar

So that was Tuesday. phew!

Wednesday: Tedx Detroit Bigger, better organized and more inspiring that last year's conference, this year's event was held at the DIA. It was terrific. I was really moved bySteve Kahn's presentation on Math Corps which is doing incredibly important work with inner city Detroit kids. If Detroit is going to be a sustainably functional city in the long term its schools have got to be fixed. Math Corps is not a solution but it's certainly an important part and I know I'm going to contribute to what they do.

It's hard to pick out specific presentations that really resonated because they were all really good. Poets David Blair and Jessica Care Moore, artist and educator Jocelyn Rainey really grabbed me. Rainey takes her inner city Detroit students all over the world, expanding their horizons remarkably. It's worth watching the online videos of the event, especially of the performances. In the interests of keeping this post to a remotely sane length I'll stop here other than to say that the energy in the room was palpable and the connections made are likely to endure and grow into more good things for the region.

If you've read this far don't forget - tonight is the fundraiser for the Milan Art Center at Original Gravity Brewing Company in Milan.


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