ArtPrize 2021 in the dark: 15 entries to see at night


Pedestrians cross the Blue Bridge in downtown Grand Rapids during ArtPrize on Sept. 19, 2021. (Michael Buck/WOOD TV8)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — ArtPrize returns to Grand Rapids this year with additional challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The good news for visitors not ready to step inside a bustling building: nearly half of this year’s 144 ArtPrize venues are hosting art outside.

And if work, school and other responsibilities prevent you from checking out the art during the day, there’s still plenty to see at night. According to ArtPrize organizers, five venues are best to visit when it’s dark.

Planning to make a night of ArtPrize? Here are 15 pieces you can check out:


See it outside Peppino’s Downtown, 130 Ionia Ave. SW

Standing 30 feet and shooting fire, it’s hard to miss this sculpture stationed outside Peppino’s restaurant. Artist Shane Evans controls the sculpture’s movements and pyrotechnics by joystick from the “cockpit” located in the torso.

Evans said 90% of the materials used in Robot Resurrection came from airplane parts and reclaimed objects. He hopes his piece encourages visitors to also consider new ways to reuse, recycle and repurpose items they would normally toss in the trash.

Evans lives in Denver, Colorado. This is his first year competing in ArtPrize.


See it at Studio Park, 123 Ionia Ave. SW

This installation by David Wallace Haskins encourages visitors to see themselves in third person over time using the “Skycube” and “Time Mirror” – a large LED screen that layers images of a person at different moments in time.

Haskins’ studio is based in Chicago. This is his first year competing in ArtPrize.


A September 2021 photo shows photographer Tom Gifford’s ArtPrize entry, H.O.M.E.S., located near the Biggby Coffee on Monroe Center NW in downtown Grand Rapids. (Michael Buck/WOOD TV8)

See it outside Biggby Coffee, 146 Monroe Center NW

This colorful, illuminate photographic installation is a tribute to H.O.M.E.S., also known as lakes Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. Photographer Tom Gifford said he completed this piece after three years and multiple trips to each of the Great Lakes.

This is Gifford’s fourth year competing in ArtPrize. The Muskegon native showed a similar piece focusing on Michigan’s landmass in 2018.


A September 2021 photo shows Hwa-Jeen Na and Yuge Zhou’s ArtPrize entry, Project Unity: Ten Miles of Track in One Day. (Michael Buck/WOOD TV8)

See it at Ah-Nab-Awen Park, 220 Front Ave. NW

Using video projectors, Michigan-based photographer and film director Hwa-Jeen Na and video artist Yuge Zhou from Chicago pay tribute to some of the 20,000 emigrant Chinese people who laid 690 miles of tracks for the Central Pacific Railroad from 1863 to 1869. More than 100 emigrant names appear over video of the Utah landscape where they laid tracks. The artists said the names listed are the ones that scholars have been able to recover from records, which rarely identified the laborers. The 8-foot pillars resemble a track and serve as video screens. The artists say they situated the pillars in a deconstructed circle “to convey the struggle for connection.”

This is the second ArtPrize competition for Na and Zhou. They each showed separate pieces during the 2017 event.


A September 2021 photo shows Tom Chase Phares’ ArtPrize 2021 entry, Mack. (Michael Buck/WOOD TV8)

See it outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum, 272 Pearl St. NW

Standing nearly 10 feet tall and weighing almost 500 pounds, Mack is Mickey’s rock n’ roll-loving step-brother, according to creator Tom Chase Phares.

Phares said he built Mack mainly out of vintage car and truck parts, which were welded, screwed, glued and riveted together. Other random items, from barbed wire to a pair of Chuck Taylors, were added to Mack to give him character.

Phares is from Grand Haven. This is his first year participating in ArtPrize.


ArtPrize 2021 Adolescent Echo by Craig Merchant, displayed outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum. (Michael Buck/WOOD TV8)

See it outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum, 272 Pearl St. NW

Instead of attracting singing birds, this interactive installation records and repeats utterances from visitors. Artist Craig Merchant said he painted the birdhouses in bright colors to represent youthfulness. His goal with the piece is to call attention to how adults’ words can influence children.

This is Merchant’s eighth ArtPrize event. The University of Michigan graduate was among the final 20 artists of ArtPrize 7.


A September 2021 photo shows Sam Noordhoff’s ArtPrize entry, Red Glasses. (Michael Buck/WOOD TV8)

See it outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum, 272 Pearl St. NW

Sam Noordhoff created this interactive sculpture to raise awareness of The Red Glasses Movement created in memory of 5-year-old Audrey Jandernoa of Grand Rapids. Audrey was born with Down syndrome and a congenital heart defect. Loved ones say she was defined by her bright red glasses, joyfulness, fearlessness and drive. The Red Glasses Movement aims to put a pair of red glasses on everyone so they can see the world from Audrey’s perspective and “live boldly, love big and pass it on,” the organization’s website states.

Noordhoff is from Dallas, Texas. This is his first year at ArtPrize.


Pictured to the left is VW Design Studio’s ArtPrize entry, called You, Me and a Butterfly. (Michael Buck/WOOD TV8)

See it outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum, 272 Pearl St. NW

The sculpture by VW Design Studio serves as a colorful backdrop for photos, with the butterfly’s kaleidoscopic wings fanning out around visitors.

Valerie Wahna of Grand Rapids teamed up with Brent Wenz and Scott Floria to create the 10-foot sculpture. Wahna also took part in ArtPrize in 2017 with her 2D print, “We can outrun anything.”


A September 2021 photo shows Tyler and Ashley Vorhees’ ArtPrize entry, The Lamplighter. (Michael Buck/WOOD TV8)

See it outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum, 272 Pearl St. NW

Artists Tyler and Ashley Vorhees said they used hundreds of old tools and wooden remnants to create this 12-foot, 6-inch sculpture. The thin, tall lamplighter is sitting on his bicycle while lighting a gas streetlamp.

The husband-and-wife team from Fennville, Michigan, say their lamplighter piece symbolizes the light within each person and the need by all to spread that light.

This is their second time participating in ArtPrize.


A September 2021 photo shows Mark Chatterley’s ArtPrize entry. (Michael Buck/ WOOD TV8)

See it outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum, 272 Pearl St. NW

Artist Mark Chatterley’s collection of clay sculptures features a flock of sheep surrounding and three large dogs.

Chatterley has been creating art for more than 40 years, according to ArtPrize profile page. He also competed in ArtPrize in 2016 with a set of clay sculptures called Birdzels.


“Earthwork Portraits” by Sweet & Shackleton, displayed outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum for ArtPrize 2021. (Michael Buck/WOOD TV8)

See it outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum, 272 Pearl St. NW

Liz Sweet and Jamie Shackleton of Grand Rapids teamed up to create this installation. Each portrait is made from earth-based materials the artists say will add nutrients to the soil as they dissolve. The artists plan to also include native plant seeds in the pieces, which should germinate over winter.

Sweet and Shackleton met while attending Kendall College of Art and Design. Earthwork Portraits carries out their vision to positively impact surrounding nature for their children’s future. This is their first time participating in ArtPrize.


Portion of Mine by Mandy Vano Villalobos, an ArtPrize 2021 entry displayed outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum. (Michael Buck/WOOD TV8)

See it outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum, 272 Pearl St. NW

Grand Rapids artist Mandy Cano Villalobos’ miniature house is filled with books, toys, clothing, papers, lamps, televisions and other personal possessions visible only though a window. The walls of the house are covered in notes, photos and items visitors are encouraged to add as a symbol of their home.

This is Villalobos’ fifth time at ArtPrize.


A September 2021 photo shows Jeremiah Corrigan’s ArtPrize entry, called Persistence. (Michael Buck/ WOOD TV8)

See it outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum, 272 Pearl St. NW

Jeremiah Corrigan transformed steel into a garden of flowers and bugs, spanning roughly 13 feet and standing 10 feet tall. The installation includes an intricate spider web and dragonfly.

Corrigan is from Newaygo. He said he gave up carpentry “due to many obstacles and health issues” and began creating metal art three years ago.


A September 2021 photo shows Duane Weirich’s ArtPrize entry, We the People. (Michael Buck/WOOD TV8)

See it outside the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, 303 Pearl St. NW

Artist Duane Weirich’s patriotic piece details the progress of America, from agriculture and transportation to space exploration and technology. The artistic history lesson also depicts presidents and sports and entertainment icons. Roosting at the top of the piece is a bald eagle clutching the U.S. Constitution’s Preamble, for which the piece is named. Weirich said the eagle was built with 2,000 pieces of metal that were hand cut and bent.

Weirich is from Lewis, Iowa. This is his second time participating in ArtPrize.


A September 2021 photo shows Bill Secunda’s ArtPrize entry, Tin Man. (Michael Buck/WOOD TV8)

See it outside the Amway Grand Plaza hotel, 187 Monroe Ave. NW

At 17-feet tall, this friendly giant looms over visitors, offering up his heart.

Tin Man artist Bill Secunda was one of the winners of ArtPrize 2009 with Moose, a sculpture created out of nails. He was a top 10 finalist during ArtPrize 2011 with his Mantis Dreaming sculpture, which featured a praying mantis with a butterfly on his claw.

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