GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — With the official start of ArtPrize 2014 just days away, organizers marked the grand opening of the HUB Saturday morning as several artists spent the day installing and finishing their pieces around town.
The HUB is once again this year located on Sheldon Blvd. near Fulton Street downtown. Serving as the official headquarters for the event, the HUB opened briefly Saturday to allow people to register early to vote and get a first look at this year's new merchandise. Also on display at the HUB are the winning pieces from the previous two years: 'Elephants,' and 'Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore.'
Now in its sixth year, organizers of ArtPrize enjoying the fact the event continues to grow and continues to gain notoriety both nationally and globally.
“We’ve attracted artists from around the world this year," said Jaenell Ott, public relations manager for ArtPrize.
"We have 1,536 entries representing 51 countries and 42 states so we’re really excited to have a big representation from around the world coming into Grand Rapids.”
Ott says anxious art lovers don't have to wait until the official launch of ArtPrize 2014 to start enjoying this year's featured pieces.
“You can actually start checking out the pieces right now online before it even opens," she said. "You can start creating lists of the things you want to see most because there are 1,536 pieces so it could be a little overwhelming when you first come down here.”
Find a full list of artists and entries here.
The HUB will reopen Wednesday for the official start of ArtPrize and will be open Monday-Saturday 11am-8pm and Sundays 11am-6pm through Oct. 12.
Meanwhile, artists like Jake Howard-Potter not sparing any expense Saturday to install entries. Howard-Potter needed a giant crane to help install his metal sculptures on the plaza at Fifth Third Bank near Monroe and Lyon.
“I wanted to make a big splash and bring a really big entry so I’m bringing five large figurative steel pieces," he said while installing his piece dubbed 'Figures in Motion.'
This year marks Howard-Potter's first year taking part in ArtPrize. The artist, hailing from New York City, said after hearing about the event from friends, taking part himself was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
“I really like the public arena, I love interacting with the public, I love opening up art to a whole different set of people than would visit a gallery," Howard-Potter said. "This is the perfect venue."
Across town, Joe Girandola spent the afternoon installing his piece in Campau Promenade with the help of some of his art students.
“Oh it’s fantastic for all the artists in the community and all around, everyone has been so supportive," he said.
Even while employing a unique material for his piece, milk-crates, Girandola said it proves beauty and art can be found in expected places and when it comes to ArtPrize, no idea is too far out of the box.
“A milk crate usually you use for transporting goods and it stacks so well but I thought what better to use this kind of vernacular architecture as a material," he said.