Or before I die.
Whichever one comes first, really.
After all, now that I’ve discovered Michigan has the world’s best frozen custard, I have a feeling they’ll have to drag my dead, lifeless body out of this state before I leave. Or close up all the custard shops. Either one.
At the moment, my Mitten List mostly includes beer which I’m sure will be a surprise to absolutely no one. But, to start things off, my first Mitten List blog post is not about beer at all – but about my trip to Grand Rapids‘ huge art festival, ArtPrize. Because if there’s one thing I like almost as much as beer, it’s poking around a new city and being all artsy fartsy about it.When I showed up in downtown Grand Rapids for ArtPrize this past Saturday, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
Probably because I hadn’t really done any research.
Probably because I never really do any research.
And when I did attempt to do some research on Friday night, I discovered that I had just missed out on the Internet Cat Video Festival, which only reconfirmed my commitment to never do research. Because research is just a fancy word for “finding out about all the cool stuff you missed.”
Besides, I’m pretty sure no amount of research could have prepared me for ArtPrize.
ArtPrize is the world’s largest art competition. Which means it’s basically like an art festival and a state fair and the biggest block party you’ve ever seen all rolled up into one big huge arty ball of fun. Complete with massive pork sandwiches.
Because, of course.The motto of ArtPrize is simply: “Art is for Everyone.”
This means anyone can enter art into the competition.
So you get everything from origami mice.
To puppet shows.
To beer fountains.
This also means that art is everywhere – not just in hoity-toity art galleries and uppity, big-name museums.
The art is all over the city — inside banks and parking ramps and coffee shops and on bridges and in basements and on the sides of buildings.
I may not be much of an artist myself. I mean, I haven’t taken so much as a paint-you-own-pottery-class in the last twenty-some years. In fact, the last art class I took was back in elementary school when I considered Precious Moments to be pretty much the be-all and end-all of high art.
But if there’s one thing I’m pretty good at it’s being super duper judgey. And, luckily for me, I don’t let a little thing like lack of knowledge stop me from forming really strong opinions about stuff and then sharing those opinions with the world.
I was so ready to get my Judgey McJudgerson pants on while at ArtPrize that I even downloaded the special art-voting app on my cellphone before I went. And, you guys, I don’t even know what an app is!After a few hours of wandering around town, I discovered I wasn’t quite as good at judging art as I thought I would be.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know what was good art and what was bad art. I mean, I think that’s all pretty much subjective.
Personally, I like anything that’s kind of weird and whimsical and fun.
Which meant I was a big fan of these blown glass catfish.
And this ransom note made out of license plates.
And, of course, the beer fountain. Because BEER FOUNTAIN.My problem was not that I didn’t know what was good art and what wasn’t. My problem was that I didn’t even know what was art and what wasn’t art.
At one point the friend I was with pointed to what appeared to be a wooden viewing platform on top of a bridge and asked, “Do you think that’s art?”
“No, it’s just a viewing platform.”
Turns out it was totally art.
After that, I started looking at everything wondering if it was art or not.
Was this a funky, spiral fire escape or an installation piece symbolizing the twists and turns of life?
Was this just a reflection of an older building on the side of a modern glass building?
Or was it a metaphor about the inescapability of our past despite our attempts to move towards the future?
And what about this one:
Overly dramatic pedestrian warning sign?
Or pop art commentary on the codependent yet dangerous relationship between humans and vehicles
Who is to know, really? Who is to know?
But, yeah, you should probably look both ways just in case.Ever been to a fun art festival? Tell me all about it! Or, hey, do you have a suggestion to add to my Mitten List? I’m all ears! Especially if those suggestions happen to include beer.