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The Mosaics of ArtPrize 2010: An Incomplete Guide

On 26, Sep 2010 | 10 Comments | In Uncategorized | By man-admin

We said this in 2009, the first year for ArtPrize, and we’re saying it again in 2010. . . It is a crazy brilliant idea.   We doff our collective hats once more to  Rick DeVos, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, and the City of Grand Rapids for thinking big and thinking art at the same time.

Here is the grand design for the event:

  • Turn a major metropolitan area (Grand Rapids, MI) into a gigantic art gallery for 19 days
  • Invite artists from all over the world to bring their best
  • Provide $449,000 in prizes for 10 winners with a top prize of $250,000
  • Let the venues pick the artists
  • Let the public in Grand Rapids pick the winners via text messaging and online voting

This year, 1,713 artists from 21 countries are showing their work in 192 venues between September 22 and October 10.

Like we said — crazy brilliant —  and surprisingly under the art world’s radar.  We asked a colleague recently why he thought this was so.  His response, “If they can’t control it, they’re not interested in it.”  Hmmm. 

Some of these entries are mosaics and we have done our best in this space to bring you The Mosaics of ArtPrize.  This is an admittedly unscientific and guaranteed to be incomplete guide.  Please, go to the ArtPrize website and get lost in the photos, commentary and updates on the voting.  Several of the mosaics below are in the Top 50 right now.

And, if you can, go to Grand Rapids and vote!

Our thanks to all of the artists who provided us with their information and photos.  We wish you all the very best of luck.

Enjoy and don’t forget to click on the photos for a closer look — Nancie

Austin Blough
Look Around You

Each piece 9′ tall x 3-4′ wide x 7″ deep. Polystyrene foam carved with a nylon brush, coated in Styroprime sealer, Styrospray 1000 and sand.
Dome mirror pieces waste from local mirror manufacturer applied with PL mirror adhesive.

Detail “Look Around You”

A larger than life mosaic side profile of two faces made from mirror pieces. Several local businesses were happy to find a use for their reject mirrors that would have normally been waste but instead (were) used in this piece. The faces are modeled from photographs I took of two friends. The best part of ArtPrize last year was seeing all the people in downtown Grand Rapids. This mosaic is meant to reflect that.

Editor’s Note:  The large greeting card in the back is not part of Mr. Blough’s work, but it does make for a striking installation.  Bravo, ArtPrize.

Venue: The B.O.B (Big Old Building) 20 Monroe Ave. NW
Contact: Austin Blough
606 490 2003

Shonda Bottke
Adelita’s Misfortune
 29″ H X 35″W X 2.5″D Stained glass, art glass, glass beads and pebbles, moonstone, pearls, recycled plastic produce bag on a recycled mirror and recycled birch plywood substrate.
Adelita’s Misfortune, detail
Adelita’s Misfortune, detail

Adelita is a loggerhead sea turtle featured in the PBS documentary, “The Voyage of the Lonely Sea Turtle”. She was held in captivity for most of her life in a 10′ tank, before she was released into the wild with a tracking device. Researchers discovered that she swam 9,000 miles from Baja, Mexico to the coast of Japan. She swam for 368 days straight, without resting. Adelita proved that loggerheads actually do swim great distances to lay their clutches of eggs. Shortly after returning to the beach where she was born to lay her eggs, she was caught in a fishing net and drowned. Unfortunately, turtle deaths by fishing nets and long lines are an all too common fate. It is my intention to create a mosaic which juxtaposes Adelita against a coral reef; looming in the background is a net. I hope that people will come away from my mosaic with an appreciation for the beauty of marine life and a desire to protect it. 

Venue:  Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum,  303 Pearl Street NW
Contact:  Shonda Bottke

Kate Diedrich
 Peace Garden
 Three 5′ x 2.5′ Birch plywood panels.  
Hand rolled and formed clay tiles, blended glazes, black sanded grout.
Peace Garden Detail
When I was a child, I would lie in my father’s garden, close my eyes, and imagine that I was spinning, as one, with the earth.   This feeling of connection to the rhythm of nature and a sense of wonder at the complex, yet effortless, beauty of it all feeds my spirit and inspires my work.

The process of constructing these mosaics involved rolling out thin sheets of clay, cutting each piece to fit the design, a bisque firing, sanding, glazing and firing again (often several times to achieve the right color ), gluing into place, grouting, sealing and polishing.  By using three dimensional elements, textures and subtle changes in the size and color of the tiles, I tried to create an illusion of depth.  The curved contours of the tiles and the flow of color and line were meant to convey a sense of peace and tranquility.  I am grateful to the young artists and their families at Immaculate Heart of  Mary School for their support of this project.

Editor’s Note:  Ms. Diedrich will be installing the third panel of the triptych later this week.

Venue:  Cathedral Square Exhibition Center,  360 Division Ave. S.
Contact:  Kate Diedrich
(616) 451-9211

Michelle Embs
Life’s Journey

48″ x 35″ x 5″  3/4 Cut transparent glass, glass frit, 3/8 marbled metallic tile, polymer clay stamped tile, found metal and wood assemblage, 5mm and 8mm pearls, photographs and kiln fused glass.

Tempered glass panel inset in a back-lit fluorescent frame with a neon border.

Life’s Journey, detail
The path represents our daily walk through life. On one side shows our temptations and challenges. Mindless living (not living in the moment) is displayed as a mechanical wheels with a clock attached to show wasted time and opportunities. So often our thoughts are focused on the past or the future and we aren’t living IN the moment.
Venue:  Riverview Center 2nd floor, 678 Front Avenue
Contact:   Michelle Embs

Suzi Furtwantler
The Seven Days of Creation 
Seven panels in increasing widths from 7” to 28”.  Total size 7′ x 4′
Over 12,000 peeled, cut and assembled crayons.
 The Seven Days of Creation, detail
 The Seven Days of Creation, detail
 The Seven Days of Creation, detail
The mosaic is made entirely from recycled crayons which were collected, peeled and sorted for over a year by the students of Saint Thomas the Apostle Catholic School in Grand Rapids, MI.  The students also helped place the crayons in the seven panels of increasing width over the course of the last school year.  Over 12,000 crayons gave their life for this piece.    There was one student who, unbeknownst to me, glued the white cap from a glue bottle into the piece.  I left it. 

Venue:  JW Marriott,  235 Lewis Street NW

Contact Suzi Furtwangler
Scott Gunderson
98″ x 98″ 9217 Recycled wine corks
Grace, detail
(Photo by Vicky Fanning)

Grace Karekeza Mwemere, the subject of this piece, is a friend from Rwanda. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide Grace was 16 years old. she was captured, separated from her family, scheduled for execution, tortured, beaten, raped and miraculously escaped death. Grace lost her smile and in the ensuing years she experienced anger, acceptance, and ultimately forgiveness for her captors. Out of her horrific experience something beautiful happened as Grace came to fully embody her name.

Grace, detail
(Photo by Vicky Fanning)

Her story is a story of transformation. Out of chaos came order and then beauty. My work seeks to do the same. Transforming the ordinary into something more, uncovering the unexpected potential of all things.

Venue: The B.O.B (Big Old Building) 20 Monroe Ave NW
Contact: Scott Gunderson
1052 Baxter St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
616 350-8514

Peggy Kerwan

9′ x 4′ Triptych Paper mosaic of 456 tea bag packets and tea bags
Tranquilitea, detail

A mixed media mosaic providing a vibrant, energizing ‘mini-escape’ from everyday stress, using only tea bags (288 colorful outside packets and 168 translucent inner tea bags) and a painted canvas base ‘grout’. The river of life winds through shadows from the sun setting behind silhouetted mountains; the tree line reflecting bits of the day’s last rays of light.

Venue: YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids 475 Lake Michigan Drive NW
Contact Peggy Kerwan

John O’Hearn
The Grand Pixel

8′ x 16′ x 2.5″ Wood frame, 8 foot tall clear plastic tubes, 6mm plastic balls

The Grand Pixel, detail

My work entitled, ‘The Grand Pixel’ is a large mosaic of downtown Grand Rapids highlighting the river and cityscape. It is made out of 250,512 tiny 6mm plastic colored balls and uses only 6 colors; black, white, green, yellow, blue and red. From afar the Grand Rapids scene appears photographic but as one approaches the individual balls of color emerge as in the pointillist tradition.

Venue: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
Contact: John O’Hearn

Molly Moblo Perusse
3-D Mixed Media Sculptured Angel. Approximate size: 102″L x 72″w x 36″D. Wire,  copper, stained glass, mirror, silver leaf, tulle, wire screen scrubs, metallic paints.
Sculptural form welded by David Jensen of Lakeview, MI.  rebar, steel, wire fencing, plaster.

41 1/2″ x 36 1/2″ x 2″  Mosaic angel, stained glass, ceramic tile, gemstones, Venetian glass, gold leafed ceramic, silver leaf.
 Luminary detail, 3-D angel.

 Luminary installed.

My intention for these pieces is sharing the reminder that “We are the Light Bringers”, and sharing our light brings inner healing.   A Luminary is One that is an inspiration to others; a Leading Light; A Body that gives light; especially, one of the Heavenly Bodies. “An angel can illuminate the thought and mind of man by strengthening the power of vision.” ~St. Thomas Aquinas

Venue:  Grand Rapids Civic Theater, 20 N. Division

Contact Molly Moblo Peruse

Daniel Pipe
 20′ Wide Mosaic Labyrinth.  
Ceramic, porcelain, slate, glass and fossils mounted on 63 wooden panels.

 Odyssey Section
Photos:  Patresha Roehr, Cynder Rose Photography

Odyssey (is) a 20 foot circular tile mosaic that maps our natural history. It (offers) viewers the opportunity to contemplate our nearly four billion year heritage in scale. The labyrinth’s path (marks) the journey with evolving colours, patterns, and fossils. 

Venue:   Pew Campus of Grand Valley State University, on the lawn in front of the Steelcase Library.
Contact: Daniel Pipe 

Carolyn Rock
Sign of Jonah

24″ x 24″ Marble and other stone.

Detail “Jonah Rejects”

Detail “Jonah Resurrects”

Detail “Jonah Repents”

Sign of Jonah is a mosaic based on the themes of rejection, repentance and redemption. Because God has compassion on people he called Jonah to go and preach to Nineveh. But Jonah sailed away. A violent storm arose and Jonah was thrown overboard. But God provided a big fish to swallow him. He was in the fish three days and three nights. Jonah prayed. God answered. Salvation comes from the Lord. And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Jonah 2:9b-10 New International Version

Venue: First United Methodist Church 227 Fulton St
Contact Carolyn Rock
5410 Grand River Drive NE Grand Rapids, MI 49525
616-252-9700 (cell)
616-363-6062 (home)

Joan Schwartz & Jacqui Ridley
Where We Live

 10′ x 5′  Wall mounted series of “buildings” on wood substrate.  Stained glass, dichroic glass, beads, glass gems, glass rods, iridescent radiant mirror, semi precious stones, swarovski crystals, glass buttons, metal, copper, ceramic & handmade porcelain flowers.

 Where We Live, detail
 Where We Live, detail
 Where We Live, detail
 Where We Live, substrate
Where We Live, detail

This  10′ x 5′ mosaic and mixed media structure, Where We Live, is an example of both artists’ attention to detail in the design elements, color choices and selection of materials.  Each distinct  building reminds us of how old fashion neighborhoods were  planned years ago. The contrast in individual styles enhances the uniqueness of the work.   Joan’s mosaic pieces have a contemporary flare, while Jacqui’s work is reminiscent of ancient tapestries.  The end result is a one of a kind “cityscape.” 

Venue:  Grand Valley Artists at Alten Place,  15 South Division Avenue
Contact Joan Schwartz:
Contact Jacqui Ridley:

John “Solly” Sollinger

16″ x 20″ x 1″ Stained glass on cement board.

 Radiance, detail.

 Radiance, detail

My mosaics express my love and understanding of patterns in nature.  Inspiration for Radiance came from the display of native sunflowers that I happened upon while hiking in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument of SW Oregon.
Editor’s Note:  Radiance won Best in Show at the 2010 Mosaic Arts International, a presentation of the Society of American Mosaic Artists

Venue:  Grand Rapids Public Museum Exhibition Center,  272 Pearl ST NW

Contact:  John Sollinger

Phillip A. Swineheart
Shukujo (Woman of Refinement)
72″ x 38″  2-sided mosaic on weighted stand.  Stained glass on wood.

Shukujo, detail

The image is of a traditional dress Japanese woman; one panel revealing the front view and one panel revealing the back, enabling viewers to walk around the piece getting the full effect of the image.
Venue:  Grand Rapids Community College Spectrum Theatre Lobby 160 Fountain St NE
Contact: Phillip A. Swineheart
2868 Manitou Dr NE
Grand Rapids, MI  49525
Mia Tavonatti
 13′ x 7′ Stained glass mosaic
 Ms. Tavonatti during the planning phase.

 Work in progress detail photo.
 Svelata installed

Michigan native Mia Tavonatti made Svelata entirely of stained glass and EVERY piece, even the bubbles are hand cut! She took 2700 hours to create Her. It has traveled 2300 miles in two sections in 40 hours on the back of a red Ford pickup truck to get here! She fought us every step of the way, but is so beloved by those her made her possible that we couldn’t bear to hand her over and make her go it alone in some stranger’s commercial transport. As a trained painter who does mosaics, I am determined to bring the same life, light and depth to my glass mosaics as I do to my paintings. They say I paint with glass…

Editor’s Note:  To learn more about Ms. Tavonatti, Svelata and the Svelata Foundation, please see Mosaic Art NOW’s post of  September 8

Venue:  DeVos Place Convention Center, 303 Monroe Ave. NW
Contact:  Mia Tavonatti

For more on ArtPrize, check out their website at or their Facebook page.  Incredibly inspiring on so many levels . . .


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  1. Nancie Mills Pipgras

    Thanks, Sharon! We did say it was an "incomplete list!" We appreciate your filling in the blanks. Good luck in 2011.

  2. Sharon~ Montague , Michigan

    Great post! I would like to add that I had a great mosaic in the 2010 Art Prize competition.
    you can view it at..
    on my blog site.

  3. mia tavonatti

    Thanks so much for your awesome coverage of all the incredible mosaics at Artprize! Mosaic really seems to be making a comeback, and I am happy to be able to do my part.

  4. Nancie Mills Pipgras

    Gee, Jacqui. I don't know the source of the quote. Have you tried Googling it? It is great, isn't it?

  5. jacqui

    wow! thanks got the great overview of the most spectacular mosaics!!everyone of them are so special.
    If possible can you please tell me what artist the large book with the "Live and Love Large" saying on it was made by?
    I want to use this quote but want to attribute it to the artist.



  6. George

    You've done another great job of reporting, Nancie. Interesting both to see that many of these artists were not "the usual suspects" (let 100 flowers bloom) and that many of the works you designate (loosely, I think) as mosaics are stretching it in terms of their materials and methods. Of course, THEY may not think in terms of stretching definitions; they're just using what they find that does the job for them! And isn't that the priority when the primary goal is to make art, rather than mosaics?

  7. Nancie Mills Pipgras

    Thank you for helping to make this guide a little more complete, Linda I'm sure there are more out there in the streets of Grand Rapids.

  8. Linda Smith

    Thank you! Wonderful to see all these mosaics in one post, especially since Grand Rapids is too far for me to visit in person like I would love too.

    I do know of two more mosaics there:
    David Guthrie:
    Joyann Green-Sabo:

  9. Nancie Mills Pipgras

    Svelata is wonderful and in the perfect venue for the medium and size. Others that I find intriguing are Grace, Look Around You, Peace Garden, Signs of Jonah . . they ALL have something to ooh and/or aah at. These artists have all invested a huge amount of time and heart into this competition.

  10. Maureen

    What a great roundup of outstanding work. I've been following the Svelata posts on FB; Mia Tavonnati's entry is stunning, I think.