01 October 2011

ArtPrize 2011 #4, Site:Lab + U of M School of Art & Design

Of all the ArtPrize venues I visited so far, I've spent the most time at the Site:Lab + U of M School of Art & Design location in the old Junior Achievement building on the corner of Fulton and Division. Site:Lab regularly produces temporary art installations within buildings that have been abandoned or buildings that are in transition in Grand Rapids. You may recall the Site:Lab installation last October in the former Network 180 building (current home to LaFontsee Galleries), among others. Because of Site:Lab's track record of producing interesting and thought provoking art events, I was excited to see what the ArtPrize edition would bring.

I wasn't disappointed.

First off, just getting to walk inside the building that's been closed up tight and sitting empty for years was a treat. I could feel the new, creative energy as a strong presence in this old and under-appreciated building. And then I wandered into the space to explore.

This is not your average ArtPrize venue, thankfully! Venue curators Paul Amenta and Elona Van Gent brought us art that isn't easily defined and most certainly can't be packed into a crate. My photos (remember you can click on any of them for a larger view) are a mere attempt to capture that which must be experienced first hand. Stop in while you're out ArtPrizing this weekend and through the end of ArtPrize. Chances are you'll run into some of the artists and the Site:Lab crew. Do chat them up and find out more about each piece and the space itself. And if you're lucky, there will be a dj spinning some tunes, adding an aural layer to your experience.

foreground: tele-present water, David Bowen
background: first floor view, Spire, Alois Kronschlaeger

In motion view: tele-present water, David Bowen
The movement of this piece was mesmerizing, especially given that the combination of science, art and engineering made it possible. The name tele-present water says it all. The wave motion of this piece is brought to the corner of Fulton and Division through wave data collected by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration bouy located somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Who hasn't video chatted with friends or family who are far away? This piece allows you to "watch" the water in the Pacific Ocean! That blows me away. I could have stayed there watching the "water" for a long time on each of my visits to Site:Lab and will likely go back to see it again.

Apparition, Meghan Reynard
I finally made it downstairs on to see this light installation on my third (I think) visit to Site:Lab. I had heard people say, "make sure you go downstairs!" So I made sure I got downstairs. This is one installation that you'll be treated to once your eyes adjust to the darkness. The evening I spent time with this, there was what appeared to be a person within the space - or was there? I watched the space for a while and couldn't decide. I couldn't hear anything that would have confirmed my suspicion. Part of the experience or not, I enjoyed using my senses trying to answer the question. I was also pleasantly reminded of Alex Schweder La's Evaporative Buildings from ArtPrize 2010.

basement view, looking upward: Spire, Alois Kronschlaeger
Being that I carry my camera around ArtPrize ready to photograph the pieces that intrigue me, this installation and the fact that you literally cannot photograph the entire thing in a single image was both awesome and frustrating at the same time. It caused me to spend even more time exploring it, trying to contain within my viewfinder that which cannot be contained. I would imagine that's exactly the kind of thing the artist might love to hear. There are so many potential viewing angles on the building's three levels. The basement view was one of my favorites, but I'd love to get up on the roof and see it from there!

outdoor, night view: Spire, Alois Kronschlaeger
The view standing across the street on Fulton is the closest I got to the roof. I love that it's lit up at night! Had I not been inside the building to see Spire for myself, this view alone makes me think of that Tom Waits song, "What's He Building?" "I heard he was up on the roof last night signaling with a flash light."

I obviously did not cover each piece featured in the Site:Lab + U of M School of Art & Design venue. All the more reason to go see everything for yourself between now and the end of ArtPrize. Site:Lab is a fixture in the Grand Rapids art community and as someone who lives here and craves new and different creative experiences, I'm grateful for the contribution they make to the art community. I look forward to the next iteration of Site:Lab!

1 comment:

DarleneK said...

Well said! I wish more people would take time with this thoughtfully curated and brilliantly presented venue.