GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — From glowing seesaws to “tumbleweeds” that resemble giant Koosh balls, a new set of interactive art installations is coming to Grand Rapids this winter.

Wednesday morning, the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority approved up to $150,000 in funding to rent three art installations aimed at drawing people downtown during the colder months.


(Undated images show the Nuzzles art project in Winnipeg, which inspired Winter Tumbleweed and Grasses by The Department.)

Inspired by the Nuzzles art project in Winnipeg, Canada, Winter Tumbleweeds and Grasses by The Department will add a splash of color to the Blue Bridge, with eight tumbleweeds, four grass groves and three anemone chains created from more than 1,500 foam noodles. The installation, created by local artists Barbara Lash and Sierra Cole, is expected to open in January 2021.


An installation that elicits memories of ArtPrize winner Intersections will set up camp along the Grand River in Ah-Nab-Awen Park from Jan. 1 through Feb. 28. Hyperspace Bypass Construction Zone, or HYBYCOZO, will illuminate the green space with intricate patterns projected from six 7-foot geometric shapes stationed at the park.

Under the plan, HYBYCOZO’s team and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. will collaborate with the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians and other local tribal members to create a seventh piece, with patterns reflecting the area’s Native American culture. That sculpture will become a permanent fixture somewhere along the Grand River in Grand Rapids.


CREOS, the installation manager that drew more than 30,000 visitors to Grand Rapids last year with Prismatica, will return to the Movies on Monroe site with a new installation beckoning visitors to revisit school recess time.

Impulse consists of 15 illuminated seesaws that glow brighter and play sound sequences as visitors ride them. The glowing playground will stay along the Grand River from Jan. 22 through Feb. 28, 2021.

All DDA members present at Wednesday’s meeting agreed to use $80,000 in previously budgeted funds along with $70,000 from the economic recovery fund for the art installations. Shortly before the vote, board member Luis Avila highlighted the importance of activating outdoor spaces downtown “because of the circumstances that we’re living in.”

“I think people will really crave this, this opportunity to get out and interact,” he added.

The exhibitions will coincide with the monthlong World of Winter Festival, which DGRI says attracted more than 70,000 people to downtown this year.

DGRI is still determining the activities for the 2021 festival based on the coronavirus pandemic. Public Space Management Director Kimberly Van Driel said the traditional Human Hungry Hungry Hippos Tournament will be re-examined.

Officials say the public will be instructed to follow all health department guidelines related to COVID-19 at each art installation and event.