It is over.

This dance of art I have done.

I’ve been and seen and lost and won.

ArtPrize 2021

And I’m here to report to you, that despite it all, art is still alive and well.

And living in Midwest Michigan, if only for a brief while.

* * * * *


I am too full from drinking in the creative juices I explored to do justice to the feelings they imparted. Instead, I will share images I took while skipping around the city.

Every installation made me stop and think.

At The Fountain Street Church – I experienced diversity, pain, suffering, and thoughtful exploration via artistic expression.

I was especially moved by “Today’s Life (Save Myanmar)” which is a subdued piece that looks like a green door of a jail under padlock with protesters outside waving red flags. The artist, Zay Zay Htut reminds the viewer of the overthrow in Myanmar of the democratically elected officials by a military-led party. February 1, 2021 marked the initial assault on anyone who stood against the military forces–unarmed protesters in the street being gunned down, people arrested or detained without cause. He states “This painting reflects my feelings of living suffocated in a small dark room, hoping for the light of democracy.” While the work is stark, the defiance of creating as protest against tyranny speaks volumes.

My favorite piece from the exhibit was the book by John Leben based on the artwork called Amy and the Tree Museum. The book cover shows a girl who appears to be leading a tortoise by a leash. In actuality, it is the tortoise who supervises the child and takes her out for a walk in what is left of a barren world destroyed by mankind.

I sincerely hope this makes it into production. It would be a very thought-provoking work to use in any course on environmental studies and introducing children to the concepts of human’s responsibility for conservation and climate change.

Fortunately, the author/artist’s profile included a link to the book online where you can read it yourself: Amy and The Tortoise: How Animals Saved the Planet.

Recycle Trans by Jerry Cartwright conveyed both whimsy as well as deeper feelings.

Recycle Trans

It was very fun taking in all the objects that made up the piece. Some in particular you couldn’t help but check out:

I truly appreciated the artist’s use of a wiry brillo pad and a watering can spout! And, though you can’t see it, the American flag tacked to the backside of the sculpture seems cheekily apropos.

Jerry Cartwright’s artist’s profile on the ArtPrize website describes the artist as being orphaned at age five–feeling discarded–which may explain his affinity for lost items. He is a self-described “abstract and assemblage artist.” He scavenges junk as he walks–repurposing what he finds to “give them new purpose and meaning” as functional artworks representing the ‘marginalized populations in the world.” He concludes with a plea for empathy for any person discarded for being different:

“May we all remember that all people regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity & sexual orientation etc. have value & redemptive qualities. May we all embrace each other with love & understanding.”

Jerry Cartwright

I cannot possibly cover every single installation and do justice to all the works I saw. I would like to say that hunting for these pieces gave me such joy. Discoveries lay around every corner. I had to fit my treasure hunting in between my son’s schedule and my work, but it was totally worth the snippets of adventure I enjoyed even if I was like a butterfly drunk on nectar–fluttering from flower to flower.

Because of the transitory nature of ArtPrize itself, there isn’t a place you can go to see most of these works once they are gone. This adds to the spice of finding them–that you are among the privileged few to see them–not to mention actually getting to meet the artist whose work you admire. And as I wade through my pictures snapped in passing, I hope you can forgive if I slow down to appreciate that which may not come again. For art is best when it is savored and shared.

10 thoughts on “ArtPrized

    1. Grand Rapids, Michigan is the host city to ArtPrize. But, I had relatives who lived in Gladwin–for maybe a few years. My grandfather and grandmother lived a somewhat itinerant lifestsyle as they lived through the Great Depression. I recorded about 15 addresses for them before they finally settled down. Gladwin was one of those addresses. My grandparents and my father lived with a family on “Bellinger Farm.” I remember it because my father made a big deal about a split field stone school house that he attended–even though he would have been about two or three at the time. I suspect this is long before you came along, so you are unlikely to know the Kruegers who very briefly lived there. It’s funny how identity is built from the place where we grew up. I have speech mannerisms specific to West Michigan. Any time you catch someone saying “pry” when they mean “probably” there’s a good bet they grew up near here as well. You’ve sent me tripping down memory lane. I hope you enjoyed the journey with me!


    1. It was gorgeous in place as well. It was quite large and was hanging right near its sister painting of the Girl with the Turtle. If I could afford it, I would so buy that one. The image was so beautiful as well as the story it represents.

      Liked by 1 person

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