Thoughts on Popular places in the wake of Las Vegas shooting
By Emma Palova
Grand Rapids, MI -I am beyond shocked over the Sunday night shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people without any connection to terror.
My husband and I just spent a fantastic Saturday in downtown Grand Rapids enjoying the most Popular arts event in the world. That is the 9th annual ArtPrize that featured 1,500 artists from 47 countries.
ArtPrize is the world’s largest competition and the most attended annual art event on the planet.
Thousands of people packed the sidewalks, the arts venues and the cafes on a beautiful sunny Saturday.
Other than seeking inspiration, the main reason why we went to ArtPrize was to cast a Popular vote for local photographer Bruce Doll for his entry, “As Grand As It Gets.”
The photo is a fabulous non-conventional take on the bottom of the Grand Canyon with a fish-eye lens.
“I thought I can never capture this,” said Doll.
In order to vote, you had to physically register in any of the ArtPrize districts using the app in the first round of voting.
The second reason was to see “The American Dream” by finalist Tom Kiefer. We strolled from the peaceful Hillside Veteran’s Park area to the much busier DeVos Place Convention Center on Monroe.
Kiefer photographed the personal belongings of migrants seized at the border.
“I felt a visceral connection between his art and our farm workers,” said Teresa Hendricks, director of Migrant Legal Aid hosting the artist.
DeVos Place had the finalists’ artwork on display. We inched the skywalks between the finalists’ exhibits and the railing; sometimes without seeing the art exhibits. There was a demonstration of tattoo art among others. As I leaned across the railing to get a picture of the interior of the hall, it occurred to me.
No matter how Athletic you were, you wouldn’t be able to run out of that glass hall with waved glass ceiling, if someone had opened fire.
We were all conveniently gathered there in the sky walks in front of the artwork, packed in the hallways. We were separated from the ground floor by escalators and elevators.
There were no security checks at the entrance.
Inside the Amway hotel, we paused by the art of “Lincoln.”
After we got out of the venue complex through a system of catwalks, and back on the street, it occurred to me again; the vulnerability of crowds. The crowds also packed the Blue Bridge and the Gillett Bridge with artists.
People gathered in front of art everywhere. After several hours, I felt nauseated from the crowds and the autumn heat.
I had to take a deep breath in front of an eagle sculpture by the Rosa Parks Circle.
It was to a certain point comforting. But that was Saturday, before the Sunday shooting in Las Vegas.
Then, everything changed.
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