GVSU welcomes ArtPrize Eight with kickoff event

GVL/Ashlyn Korienek - Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss speaks at Rosa Parks Circle during the ArtPrize kick-off event Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.

Ashlyn Korienek

GVL/Ashlyn Korienek - Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss speaks at Rosa Parks Circle during the ArtPrize kick-off event Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.

Ashlyn Korienek

Welcoming the eighth annual ArtPrize competition, Grand Valley State University partnered with ArtPrize and inspired participants to celebrate their uniqueness.

This year, GVSU’s Laker Marching Band and dance company performed Wednesday, Sept. 21 alongside community members in the WGVU and PBS Nerd Walk to launch the city-wide art competition.

The band started the festivities with a performance at the Eberhard Center on GVSU’s Pew Campus playing hit-songs such as “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin and “YMCA.” The band and dancers performed a second time in the Grand Rapids Rosa Parks Circle, directed by President Thomas Haas.

Hannah Seidel, assistant professor of dance, said the dancers practiced for three class periods to ensure a smooth performance for the event. As this is the first performance for many students, she said this allows the new dancers to gain experience and bond with others.

The dance company has performed at the opening day event since 2012.

Joining the festivities, the fourth annual WGVU and PBS Nerd Walk gave the community a chance to embrace their inner uniqueness dressed as their favorite PBS or fictional character.

The attendees marched behind the band across the Blue Pedestrian Bridge to the Rosa Parks Circle performance. Following the walk, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss welcomed ArtPrize with her official proclamation.

For the 2015 Nerd Walk event, the theme was a Bob Ross look-alike contest where 500 participants walked in Bob Ross wigs. This year’s theme focused on PBS characters, and other fictional characters.

Tim Eernisse, director of development and marketing for WGVU public media, said this year was the third partnership with WGVU and PBS sponsoring the Nerd Walk. This year, the event started at the Eberhard Center rather than Rosa Parks Circle to ensure students could arrive directly from the bus stop.

“The purpose behind this is we’re all nerds for something,” Eernisse said. “It can be science, or for us, PBS and NPR. The idea is to say it’s OK, so let’s embrace it.”

The Nerd Walk originally started at Arizona State University, where Eernisse picked up the idea in coordination with colleagues at PBS.

“People come to have fun, embrace themselves and embrace what is ArtPrize,” he said. “The hope is to show that we aren’t the old PBS anymore, we are not only the programs you watched when you were a kid.

“We are trying to say to a different demographic, mainly college students, that we’re still here and we have some really great programs — it’s OK to tell your friends.”

Coordinating the university’s venue activity, Stacey Tvedten, programs manager at the GVSU Art Gallery, organizes community collaborations with the university’s featured ArtPrize artists and GVSU departments.

This year, in addition to the GVSU department of art and design and Korean ceramics collaboration entry, visitors may also learn about solar power presented by GVSU’s school of engineering and participate in the “VoiceGR” survey powered by the Johnson Center for Philanthropy.

“It’s been exciting to partner with the WGVU and PBS Nerd Walk the last couple of years,” Tvedten said. “The Nerd Walk and GVSU ArtPrize kickoff are great ways for our community to show its enthusiasm for art, public media, music and dance, and share in the celebration of opening ArtPrize Eight. We’re honored to be part of the celebration.”

ArtPrize Eight will continue until Sunday, Oct. 9, as 170 venues will participate in this year’s competition.

To keep up with the full schedule of events, visit www.artprize.org.