GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - On Thursday afternoon, four naked sculptures were installed as a part of ArtPrize outside of DeVos Place just off of Monroe Avenue in downtown Grand Rapids.
The untitled piece was created by Patrick Mckearnan of South Haven and is just one of the 1,524 ArtPrize entries that will be displayed at 169 venues across Grand Rapids when the wold's largest art competition is in full swing, starting later this month.
Some may have issue with how visible the piece is, but Eddie Tadlock, the curator and assistant general manager at DeVos Place, says it is art.
"I love it. I think it's whimsical, I think it's cartoonish in a way in how he has sculpted some of the figures," said Tadlock.
Tadlock is the man who selects which pieces the venue will display and where they will go. He said it is a difficult process.
"I looked at over 2,100 entries. And to try and pick what is cool, what is hip, what's artistic, what's not so artistic, it's really like a giant jigsaw puzzle," said Tadlock.
Tadlock said in some cases, he doesn't know what the final product will look like.
"You can't see what a sculpture is actually going to be. You can't see what a painting is going to be. A lot of the work isn't even complete when you pick it. It's kind of a crapshoot," he said.
The naked sculptures was one of those entries that wasn't done before it was picked to be on display in front of busy DeVos Place.
"When I selected this body of work, I didn't know the nudity would be to this level or scope. But at the same time, it reflects reality in human form. It's not like the Statue of David where it's the perfect human form. These are real people, real sculptures. I think some people are going to say something about it, but that's art," Tadlock said.
Though many, after seeing the pictures of the sculptures on Facebook, said they didn't not enjoy them, most who saw them in person disagreed.
"To me, it's natural. I personally really enjoy art, especially when it is all natural like this. I do have younger children and it doesn't bother me because it is art," said Sara Dipiazza, who saw them sculptures with her three kids and husband Friday night.
"It's just art. I don't think people should complain about art," said Robert Dipiazza.
Mike and Woo Nowak, who also saw the sculptures for the first time on Friday night, also said they enjoyed them.
"I think that if I had my daughter and walked by it, I feel that it is natural and if she had questions about it I would be happy to address them," Mike said.
"When we walked passed we were like ooooh, OK, but it is like you said it's a natural state, it's art. That is what art is supposed to do," his wife Woo said.
ArtPrize said it is up the each venue which pieces they want to display and where.
"The choice of putting it on the sidewalk is a bold one. But ultimately, that choice is up to the venue itself," said Kevin Buist, exhibition director for ArtPrize.
Buist said he understands the controversy, even though nudity and art isn't anything new.
"The controversy of it never seems to wear off even though it has been around as long as we have figured how to craft anything out of a solid object," said Buist.
"Art is not always comfortable. Art is meant to be challenging. Art is meant to help you get outside of your comfort zone a little bit. There is nothing there that's aberrant or unnatural, even if it's not something we see everyday," Buist continued.
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