Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Senior Smiles

I realized this morning that I haven't posted anything here for quite a while. The usual excuse, I've been busy.

One thing I've been doing is an effort called "Senior Smiles". It was started by someone who was going through an old yearbook and couldn't find photos of a couple of classmates. For a variety of reasons, including lack of funds, they hadn't had one taken. He figured that the problem still exists and probably has gotten worse due to the economy. After rounding up a couple of folks to help, he started contacting the schools and local photographers he knows.

I was one of those photographers. I have to admit, I wasn't interested at first, but after an in-person plea, I signed up. We are starting out small, just some inner city schools and 200 kids out of the 600 the schools identified as being eligible. So far, I've been out twice, with a total of 6 sessions. We've been having the usual start up problems, miscommunication, schedules crossing, that sort of thing. It's been exacerbated by the fact that the effort started late and we are running up against the deadline for photos to get placed in yearbooks.

The kids and the families have been great though, and the other photographers are fun to be around. I'm glad I let myself be talked into this.

A nice article came out about the effort in the Grand Rapids Press in the past week. They got some facts wrong, especially the role the GR Flickr group played and leaving the camera club out of it. I would have liked a link for other photogs to join up also, but any publicity is better than none at all. The article is here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just Another Day

As usual, I've been busy lately. Too busy to do much here unfortunately.

I do have a couple of posts planned. One thing I'm planning on doing is to start reviewing equipment I buy and either use or don't use. I have a start of one review at the moment and hopefully you will see that soon.

I would like to talk about ArtPrize for a bit. For those of you that don't know, Rick Devos, grandson of one of the founders of Amway, started an art competition. First prize was a cool quarter of a million dollars and the top ten got at least $7,000.

There was a lot of talk about the voting rules. The public got to vote each piece up or down using their cell phones or on-line. A voter had to register in person with a government ID. This was to prevent someone from rigging the voting. When it was first announced, a lot of people, me included, derided it as American Idol for the arts. The local art community was even more vocal. How could the unwashed public be expected to pick a good piece of art? They wanted it changed to a juried art show with artists in charge of picking the winner.

An area of downtown was picked, any building or open area could become a venue for the artists to display their work. The artist paid a fee to participate in the show and then had to find a venue. Starting a few weeks before the competition opened, art started to show up. The most noticeable were the sculptures. Especially the huge table and chairs spanning the top of the walking bridge over the river downtown. You can still see that from the freeway as you drive by.

By the time the show opened, downtown was full of art. The competition turned out to be a big hit, bringing record crowds to downtown and business to downtown Grand Rapids overall. Grand Rapids also got a lot of good press out of the show. Something the area and Michigan overall needed.

I had the bad fortune to pick that time to take vacation out of the area. I only made it downtown during the competition for a few hours. It was a Thursday afternoon and I was surprised how busy things were. As usual, some of the art I liked, some I didn't and some I didn't understand. But it was a good experience.

I really expected one of the performance events or the big sculptures to win the prize. The public surprised a lot of people by picking a painting of ocean waves as the winner. I had seen the piece, but overlooked it. Since it will be in the local art museum for the next 3 months, I'm going to have to go take a second look.

There were some lessons learned. All the winners seemed to be picked from the central downtown area, a few really good pieces seemed to have been overlooked by the public because they were on the outskirts. The shuttle buses didn't run everywhere and there was some griping. But for the first year of the event, I think it went smoother than a lot of people expected. There are already plans to hold the event again next year, and I think it will be even bigger. Thanks to Rick Devos and everyone who worked on this so hard to make this a worthwhile event for the Grand Rapids area.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nighttime Chicago

In Chicago again for the weekend and I managed to get out Saturday evening with the camera. It was rainy and a little chilly, but that just gave me some opportunities I usually don't take advantage of. I know Millennium Park is somewhat of a Chicago cliche, but I love the organic feel of the bean against the buildings. Even though it was rainy, there were still plenty of people about. But I missed some spots I had wanted to photograph and I'll have to remember those next time and ignore the park.