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My sculpture, "Spore" has been accepted into an International Art Competition in Grand Rapids. I need to create, install, & ship it from Alaska & back
My sculpture, "Spore" has been accepted into an International Art Competition in Grand Rapids. I need to create, install, & ship it from Alaska & back
146 backers pledged $15,308 to help bring this project to life.

Recent updates

ArtPrize Event #1

Okay, it's been a week and time to catch up regarding my travels inside this large event.

First. Yes, thousands of people have shown up for this - especially on the weekend. Long lines to get into the exhibition centers. Traffic moving at a snail's pace due to all the foot traffic. This past week I got a new means of transportation - a moped! It's tiny compared to the scooters Laura O. brought to AK, more like a baby scooter. It does 40mph going downhill, but it does a consistent 35mph around town which is good enough for most areas that I need to go. This little beauty allows me to visit those art sites that are away from the crazy center of things but too far or just too dangerous to try and walk to. More visuals and descriptions on some of the perimeter artwork later.

Second. This year ArtPrize created an artists' lounge. Only participating artists are allowed in, which is kind of great and needed. It's only about 2 blocks from my site. So I've made use of it when I need a quiet place to go with food, wifi and lovely, comfortable chairs. There's a pingpong table at the far end of the lounge which provides a certain amount of hilarity.

As to my current overall impressions at the moment:
There's a lot of saccharin, earnest work here. Artists with 1 note, feel good messages. There's also a lot of 'sacred / sacramental' art too. Most of this type is located in and around the churches. There's a lot of beautiful, old cathedrals in GR. I've attached some images of 1 piece that kind of works in it's site placement and presentation - the holy spirit tongues of fire made out of paper, church doilies. Anyway, this type of work is a lot for someone like me to plow through, but fortunately there's other stuff too.

Here's an image that will make Angela and Duke smile - bike as art. For more details on construction, their website is

I've realized that this continues to be an evolving event. This year's structure opened up new locations to register as a viewer (which was evidently needed). The 'exhibition centers' had both work and registration areas. An unintended consequence is that people stay congregated around these venues. Other images show Calder Plaza - which last year was a high traffic area, but this year is far less so. (The paperclips is not a Oldenburg piece, but an artist who brought the 12,000lb piece from Colorado.)

More impressions in later posts this week.

In the meantime, I've continued to make presentations at a local college here (Calvin College for those of you familiar with GR). Here's a link to a student response from all of these process lectures I've been doing.

I also got to hear a presentation by Maya Lin. She spoke mainly of the work she's been involved in over the last 10 years. And some current work around the 'What is Missing'.
That evening's talk was a respite from this current event into something more familiar to me.

I'll end today's post with 3 images from the perimeters of ArtPrize - 2 images from a dogpark by the river with over (20) 8 foot tall, corten steel dogs and 1 detail of a large, asphalt parking lot that was painted for the event. Murals are everywhere but this is the only one I've seen on a horizontal surface that you can amble across and add your own words to.


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Land Marks Series: Spore in Grand Rapids, MI

Here's a few shots in the first few days of the artprize event. I have been spending some time everyday down at the 'Spore site'. Documenting the piece in different light; catching details as well as interacting with some of the people moving through this event.

Much of the rest of my time has been engaged with talks and presentations given to students and faculty at Calvin College and family who came by for the weekend to visit.

I will continue to pass by and photo the site but this week I start expanding through the event itself. My goal is to see as much of the work submitted as I can in the remaining 12 days; to get a better sense of the structure of the overall event and some of its inner workings and to familiarize myself with various sites. I think all of this kind of information could prove useful for Alaskan artists who might contemplate participating next year.

I see on the Kickstarter page that the Spore project now has over 100 backers. Thanks! And enjoy the photos.


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Land Marks Series: Spore installation in Grand Rapids, MI

Installed 'Spore' this week.

The installation was going along just fine - beautiful, sunny days (though very gusty winds at this particular location). The installation crew - Gayle, Annelise, Aletheia, Jennifer and Jon were ready hands, always willing to go the extra mile.

As we were finishing on Tuesday afternoon, we found out that a major storm was blowing in that evening. This was some unexpected, added drama. I went to the hardware store and picked up 100 feet of 5/8's, 300 lb. weight load rope and 4 large eye screws.

I set the eye screws in the 4 corners of the platform. Jon knew the knots needed so we could lash and tighten the artwork to the platform to add this extra stabilization. We also cinched a tie-on to the nearby railing to keep the whole thing - art and platform from sliding around on the courtyard. I went back down into the base of the piece to tighten all the bolts (there had been some loosening during the install).

It was a kind of a 'hail mary' action. The storm hit around 9pm that night. The winds were clocked at 72 - 74 mph. In the downtown location of 'Spore' where the tall buildings create wind tunnels, my guess is it was even higher. Trees fell. Power was out in parts of the city. But 'Spore' was still standing the next day.

Other artists were not so fortunate. And these gusting winds have continued since Tuesday. I feel like I'm on the Russian Steppes or Mongolia where I've read the wind blows and blows for weeks on end...

This time, I'm also attaching a link to Jon Brown's site. Here you can see some of his beautiful documentation as well as a time lapse video of the second day's install. There's a place near the beginning where it seems that for the longest time there's nothing but the platform, the pole and the sphere center - we must have been eating lunch or something. But if you listen carefully, you will hear a man ask if we're installing a stripper pole for a performance art piece...


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Just found out tonight that the 'Spore' project is on 2 Kickstarter lists.
'Recommended' and 'Most Popular'.

The first (recommended) is a Kickstarter evaluation by their staff.

The second (most popular) is all due to you.

Thank you!

Land Marks Series: Spore construction #3

We moved into the final stretch. But the next task was a big one. The snaths had been pared down to 92 - due to the final placement of the steel webs on the sphere. But still, 92 snaths had to be fine sanded, stained and 4 to 6 layers of clear coat applied before shipping. (which was a looming deadline)

Buzz and Erik came on board and worked for a week to do the staining and finishing. I was fortunate to still have a tent up from the Annual Studio Party so that half of the snaths could be moved outside. There wasn't enough room to do the job inside.

I spent a long evening adjusting and sanding the ends of each snath so that they would easily fit into their assigned steel webs. If some of those final photos seem a bit blurry it's probably because I felt a bit blurry when it all was finally together at 3am.

This is the final phase of building Spore in Alaska. The next update starts in Grand Rapids with the installation and the first day of the ArtPrize Event.

Till the next post, thanks to all who have become backers of this project. I really appreciate your support and interest.


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