GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Even though we’re still a week out from the official start of ArtPrize, you can already see some art in downtown Grand Rapids.
Artists, especially those with large murals or installations, have been at work all week — or longer, in some cases. One of them is Bradley Goff, who painted a huge mural called “Charging Forward” on the side of Oliver Healthcare Packaging on Sixth Street NW at Seward Avenue. He said the image of a charging herd of elephants was inspired by the shared hardship of the pandemic.
“The mural represents the human ability to dig down deep, find our own inner elephant and charge forward,” Goff said.
This is his first time participating in ArtPrize. He said he’s been overwhelmed by the reaction of the community as he has painted his piece.
Another artist whose entry has already been installed, Eugene Clark, said public reaction is the point of his piece. His entry, “Hypocrisy: An American Struggle,” can be viewed along the DeVos Place Riverwalk. It depicts two significant moments in American civil rights history contracted with images from popular TV shows from the same time.
“I’m excited about the number of people who will walk by and look and think about the subject,” he said.
Farther south along the river at Heartside Park, Edgar Hernandez is turning the basketball court into not just a work of art, but also a functional space for the community. The court is painted with vibrant colors and new backboards and hoops have been installed.
“Most important to me, I want to create a space that is functional and lasts longer than just like a few weeks. What happens after ArtPrize? This will still be here,” Hernandez said. “It’s really important to have these spaces for the youth, for the community really to use, and it creates a healthier next generation, I think.”
Edwin Anderson had a similar mindset when he painted the basketball court at Campau Park as a tribute to basketball great Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi, who were killed in a helicopter crash last year.
“I want it to be something that people can hold dearly and call their own in the community,” Anderson said, “so when they do connect with it there can be a sense of ownership, sense of value. They will hopefully want to take care of it and take care of the park, as well.”
Several venues told news 8 the majority of their artists will be moving artwork in this weekend. The competition starts Sept. 16 at noon.