Heidi is a first-time visitor to ArtPrize in 2018, sharing how she unexpectedly found herself surrounded by art on a quick business trip here in Grand Rapids.
Another 24-hour town on a two week business trip. It could be Wednesday in Wichita or Friday in Ft Lauderdale, but no, the sign says welcome to Grand Rapids and it’s Tuesday. I’m pretty sure it’s Tuesday. My Hilton Whatever welcomes me with a complimentary happy hour featuring the Founders ArtPrize beer. A beer that’s [a part of] an art contest. This is the first sign that I’m not in Wichita or Ft Lauderdale.
A walk around the block takes me past stunning PDAs (public displays of Art). Not sure what I was expecting from Grand Rapids, MI, but it wasn’t Art. There’s a river here and a pedestrian bridge to carry you over it. PDA on the bridge and PDA on the banks and even PDA in the river. Amazing art everywhere!
Hours pass. I wander along the banks of the river and there in the distance is something that says, aha, now that’s the midwest: laundry hanging on a line. But approaching I see these clothes have words on them. Meandering through the fluttering clothes, letting this T-shirt swipe my face and that pair of green overalls captivate me, I’m lost to tears reading the words as if they float on the breeze all around me. These clothes represent people — so many different people from so many different places.
Just a business traveler passing through a mid-size city in middle America and yet there’s nothing mainstream happening here.
Thank you Grand Rapids. I’ll be back.