Thursday, October 15, 2009

We Won With ArtPrize

For several weeks this fall the city of Grand Rapids was transformed into every artist's dream (well, maybe not every artist, but jeez get your mind out of the gutter!) -- a giant gallery!  The inaugral ArtPrize has come and gone with much fanfare.  And, as I come down from my contact high brought on by so much visual stimulation, I thought it appropriate to reflect for a moment on how the Fitzgerald Penn Family won with ArtPrize 2009.

1)  Connor and his dad got to enjoy an unusual version of their "guys night" -- those nights when I have an evening commitment.  The two of them wandered about for a while gawking at Nessie and the usual suspects along the pedestrian bridge.  Much to Conn's delight they were able to take in some of the performers at the B.O.B.  His favorite was, ". . . the gymnastics girls who had hula hoops that were on fire and the other girl put fire in her mouth, but she didn't get burned, and you really aren't supposed to eat fire anyway . . . "  Ah, to be six again! 

This night was captured by Rick in this mobile phone photo of Conn at a TGIFriday's sidewalk table enjoying dinner (yeah, we know it's fuzzy, just squint and it looks great!).  After Conn assembled his crayon duo in the table cutouts he announced to his dad, "See, I made Art for the Prize too!"  Darn if he didn't get it!

2)  Grandma Carole had never visited our lovely downtown.  We couldn't believe this news.  But, in order to remedy this situation we packed her and Grandpa Bill and Conn into the truck and sped off for the bright lights of the city immediately following a nailbiting soccer game one Saturday morning.  It was very fun to see the sights of our city, the things we take for granted and have come to ignore, through the eyes of my six-year-old and his grandmother.  Both saw everything in a fresh way.  And, none of us could agree on which entry should win ArtPrize, but we loved it all!

3)  Not to be outdone by Grandma Carole, Conn's Aunt Colleen and his cousin Ryleigh came to Grand Rapids too.  Okay, so the reason was not entirely for ArtPrize, it was Connor's birthday after all, but they were happy to check out the fun too.  So, after celebrating a birthday dinner with the cousins, Rick and I, joined by Colleen, corralled Conn-6, Ryleigh-5, Reagan-5, Rachel-9, and Sarah-11 and headed out to see what this crew thought of all this Art.

We had a blast!  The kids loved it -- and we spent a lot of time voting thumbs up and thumbs down for the pieces.  It was fun to see how every child felt empowered to come up with their own decision.  And, they each had unique reasons for liking or engaging with something, or just not enjoying it.  Again, pictures tell the story best.  But even these don't capture just how magical this evening was for all of us.  Too bad my camera battery died before the kids were exhausted, we traveled much farther than it would seem here that night!

So, in the final analysis, ArtPrize was more than just the world's largest prize for art.  It was an excuse to spend a lot of quality time with people we loved in a city we adore surrounded by interesting and sometimes thought provoking visuals.  Our family soaked it up!  We feel like the real winner from ArtPrize 2009 was us (even though we didn't get that check for $250,000!). 

Oh, and here's a little heads up . . . we've got something creative cooking for ArtPrize 2010 with the neighbors . . . and these little artisans want to win it all!