Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ArtPrize day 2

Back to the city for more ArtPrize today.  I was more tired than I thought and filled far too many parking meters for the amount of time I was there, but I did see a few things that I really liked.

The first was at Park Church (if you live nearby and plan on going.)  These are a series of quilts from a local group.  Each is  something iconic from a bike ride around Mackinac Island.  They are beautifully done and no photo can do them justice.  These are definitely "nose to fabric" things.  If you're a quilter you want to get close to see how they did what they did.  Let me tell you, Itsy bitsy, that's how they did it.  One of their group, the only name I recognized, was obviously the machine quilter of all of them.  What a treasure and they need to live together for the full effect.  I hope the group sells to someone who will keep them together.  I couldn't pick a favorite.

I expect they took a field trip together to the island to choose their scene.

 It's important for the locals here to see the names of these quilters.  The pieces are just gorgeous.  There is a bicycle in each piece.  For those not from Michigan, Mackinac Island has no automobiles on it.  The mode of transportation is horse or bicycle.  Bicycles are second nature to the people who have been to the island and each person added a bike to the piece, because, after all, it is titled "Mackinac Island Bike Tour." 

My cousin told me the Harris building was her favorite venue so I went there.  I can see why.  Grand Rapids is in the midst of finally realizing what they have in the old, old buildings downtown.  Some enterpreneurs are finally stripping them down to the bricks and making something of them other than parking lots.

 This you could see from the street windows and it draws you inside helplessly.  The artist loves her coffee in paper cups.  She loved getting her cup and savoring her drink.  Well, she saved those cups, writing the date on the bottom, what was served in it and from where.  And then she doodled a decoration on the outside.  There are 1,001 of them hanging here and it's so beautiful!!

In the same place there is this forest of books (trees re-imagined.)  The covers are stripped off and the contents spoked onto pipes, growing from the gravel.  There are real leaves interspersed in case you don't "get it."

But once again it's what you don't expect to see that surprises you. When I walked into the Harris building I stopped in my tracks.  I wasn't sure what I was looking at.  Was this whole room a store?  Was it an elaborate ArtPrize exhibit? Living art?  What was this place!??
It turned out to be The Local Epicurean.  A shop that makes fresh pasta and all the stuff that goes with it.  Sauces, pesto, bread, pastries, balsamic vinegars, olive oils, you name it.  And it's all stunningly gorgeous stuff.

All handmade

 The flavor combinations are mouthwatering.  You can't help it.  You slurp your drool back into your mouth.

I didn't know where to start. I had to maintain some semblance of control.  I bought some Crispy Prosciutto DeParma - house dried Prosciutto so thin you can see through the slices.  Some aged Asiago and Oregano pasta  and some Dark Cocoa Georgia Pecan pasta. I mean, come on....chocolate pasta?  With pecans besides??? Did they know I was coming that day?  I asked someone what a person would do with cocoa pasta.  She suggested whipped cream and raspberries.  Well!  This was a girl who knew her stuff!   I will let you know.

Monday, September 29, 2014


 Our Adelaide turns five tomorrow.  She had her birthday party last Saturday and she was SO excited.

 Her cousins were all there, it was a picture perfect beautiful day for a party.  Notice Elizabeth in her Elsa cape.  She wore her Elsa dress, also her Halloween costume, that day and one of her aunts made the cape for her. 
Happy Birthday, Petite!

 Just took a walk on the beach.  What a difference the wind makes.  Today is calm, warm and beautiful. The lake crystal clear.
 We even have some beach back!
Collected some beachy stuff.  Rocks, wood, shells.  I'm cooking up an idea.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Art Prize 2014

Just came back from Art Prize.  I am retired now so I can go early in the morning and leave when the crowds show up.  It was a gorgeous sparkly day and perfect for walking around the venues I haven't ever gotten to before.  If you aren't from Michigan or aren't an artist you might not have heard of Art Prize.  In its sixth year it's a monstrously popular event that draws over a thousand artists from around the world all hoping to be seen, and of course, most vying for the top prizes. The event is huge for the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Hundreds of thousands of people will walk the streets of downtown and travel to the outlying areas to view the work of these artists.

In the past either I've skipped it entirely, tried it one year on a weekend (NEVER again! I don't think Times Square on New Year's Eve is that crowded!!) or stopping at one of the outer venues to peek at some things.  But this year was going to be the year I went to the central city, the more popular venues and saw what everyone was talking about.

Today was the first day for voting.  This event was given to "the people" to decide what they liked.  Using a cell phone you can vote for your favorite piece.  In the past this has been translated into "biggest piece."  The real art people started to complain that we little people didn't know what we were talking about, our choices were plebian and so this year for the first time there will be two top prizes.  The popular vote and the professional vote.  Each vote will award the winner $200,000.  Yes, that many zeroes.

But, for the people, it's just one big event.  For two and a half weeks no matter where you look there's something to see.  You can't possibly see it all.  Estimates are that if you spent 3 minutes looking at each and every piece it would take longer than the event is.  Of course there is an identifying card next to each piece telling you who the artist is, what was used to make the piece and what the artist's vision was.

So, you pick a grid of the city and walk and look.  And you decide if it's art.

This made me smile.  Friend Marilyn has visions of making little paper houses this winter.  I thought of her.

 Some things shimmer
 Some make you smile.  This was completely covered in clocks.

 This one allowed you to turn the front wheel and the skeleton cyclist rode the bike.
 This was completely robotic.  The kids were loving this.  (Lots of schools there on field trips)
 Some made you pause
 This was really beautiful. The water just sparkled in the sun, made me think of the Thursday night sailing club here at home.

 Some just defied description.  This cut paper is a polar bear swimming
 This was stunningly beautiful.  All glass, it's a depiction of the four seasons on the lake.
 And some things just made you stop.

 But this.  This was mesmerizing.  First of all, the artist recently, in just a couple of years, had five brain surgeries and then a stroke.  He created this AFTER that.  As I approached I could only think of men in a concentration camp. The looks on their faces, the grain of the wood mimics striped clothing. 
But I couldn't take my eyes off this man.
Look at that face, the detail, the vein in his temple, the creases in his face, the capillaries on his nose. That look in his eyes.   I expected him to talk. This was the only bust the artist made from a real person.  This man was a cancer patient, elderly.  The artist saw him at a gathering and asked if he could take his picture and the man let him.
I'm telling you, it was the eyes.  Try as I might I couldn't get it close up enough to show you in his left eye, there was a tear.

But the unbelieveable part?  They were carved from styrofoam.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Sweetness

This is the story of a family.  And a war. 

Mira Kane lives with her family in Brooklyn during World War II. Her father is the owner of a successful knitting company, women’s clothing is their specialty.  Mira is eighteen and wants to be a fashion designer. 

 Rosha Kaninsky is her cousin, living in Vilna, when the war gets ugly for Jews in Europe.  While being rounded up by the Germans, Rosha’s father – the brother of the  Mr. Kane in Brooklyn – dares to give his daughter to the village’s Polish Catholic candlemaker.    The Kane family is told the Kaninsky’s were all murdered in the roundup of their village.   Because of this Mira’s father draws the strings around his family in Brooklyn to protect (read: smother) his family from the world.   

Mira is frustrated that she is no longer allowed to go to school to learn fashion design, works for her father at the knitting company, doing the same.  Her life is forever altered as is her young cousin’s in Vilna.  Rosha is hidden and protected during the war by the candlemaker and is the only survivor of her family.  

This is the story of those that left and those that chose to stay behind.  The story of parallel lives and contrasts. The story of riding out the storm and surviving the best way they know how.  

What’s the “sweetness?”  As the Kaninsky family is being rounded up, oblivious of where they are going and what will happen to them, the grandmother takes only a jug of water and some lemons.  Little Rosha asks her why she is carrying just that and her grandmother tells her it is “something sour to remind me of the sweetness.”    And that is the last time Rosha sees or talks to her grandmother.