Kim & Terry Gates
ArtPrize: What inspires you to volunteer with ArtPrize? What sorts of roles do you take on?
Terry Gates: The first year of ArtPrize [in 2009], Kim chose to volunteer as a Wayfinder with a friend as something fun to do. The next year, I became a Wayfinder with Kim and we really enjoyed doing it together. Every year, we've renewed our commitment to be Wayfinders and enjoy answering people's questions at the same time as checking out the many venues while we're volunteering. When the request went out to host artists in our home, we signed up—and have had some pretty incredible experiences.
How has volunteering change your perspective on ArtPrize?
Being a volunteer allowed us to meet some of the regular volunteers and get the inside scoop on what goes on behind the scenes. We've enjoyed being a part of special events for volunteers and attending the volunteer training sessions. We also had a chance to receive CTA (Certified Tourism Ambassador) training due to our involvement with ArtPrize and have enjoyed being involved in some of their activities in the community. We've really enjoyed being a part of the explosive growth of ArtPrize and the feeling of being connected to the community. We love how Grand Rapids comes alive during the three weeks of ArtPrize and try to spend as much time as we can downtown when it is so vibrant.
What made you want open your home and host an Artist?
We were empty nesters and knew that many of the artists didn't have a lot of money and were coming to Grand Rapids at their own expense. We were willing to help them out and appreciated the opportunity to be able to experience ArtPrize from the perspective of the artist.
You hosted a couple visitor favorite artists—Adonna Khare whose “Elephants” won the Public Vote Grand Prize in 2012, and Anila Quayyum Agha whose “Intersections” was a dual grand prize winner in 2014. What was it like to experience the event through their eyes?
So Anila and her boyfriend show up at our house in 2014, and we don’t know anything about them and they don’t know anything about ArtPrize or Grand Rapids. One of the first questions we ask is where her venue is. She says they're at GRAM, but they don’t know what it is.
“You are at the Grand Rapids Art Museum?” I ask. She says, “Is that good?” She tells us that the GRAM gave them a whole room for her piece.
We are excited.
They want to install the piece and head back home to Indianapolis for work. We tell them they have to stick around for at least a few days and work ArtPrize, setting up interviews, and trying to create a buzz right from the beginning. I have connections with WZZM13 and the Grand Rapids Press and encourage them to check out "Intersections" because it is going to win. That night, "Intersections" airs on WZZM13 and the next day it hits the front page of the Grand Rapids Press. Anila still wants to go home, but we urge her to stay.
She often got extra tickets to events for family, but because she doesn’t have family in the area, she invited Kim and me. We tagged along with her as much as we could and enjoyed the excitement she was getting.
I video taped her reaction when they announced that she was in the Public Vote Final 20, and then we were able to attend the [ArtPrize Awards winners'] announcement with her the next week. She had to sit up front and asked if we could sit with her boyfriend so he wasn't alone. We went crazy cheering for her. After winning $300,000, she spent the evening in media interviews. When she was finally free, we celebrated her big win with new-found local friends.
She gave us a piece of original art she created as a way to thank us. We have it hanging in our living room. We keep in touch through Facebook and have stopped by to see her at her home in Indianapolis. Whenever she is in Grand Rapids, we get together.
What advice would you give to those thinking about hosting an artist?
Do you live in the greater Grand Rapids area? Find out how you can open your home to an ArtPrize Artist + sign up here.
Header photo courtesy of MLive Media Group