Day 9 of ArtPrize in beautiful Grand Rapids. Last week, the first week, saw the weather of summer still hanging on: Temperatures in the mid to high 70’s during the day. But a front came through and all of a sudden, we are in the perfect Fall weather: Sunny with highs close to 60 + or – 5 degrees! But with those cool temperatures and sunshine is a breeze that sometimes gusts up to 30mph! That makes it a little difficult to stand outside at a table and engage passersby and sell books. So, I have immersed myself in enjoying the city and ArtPrize.

I go to the YMCA and wallow in self-indulgent exercises and use the steam room to give me that much needed humidity I am used to in Florida and so lacking in this northern clime. I also have been walking all over the city looking at art. Art is everywhere! It is CRAZY! The photo I posted at the top of this blog is a close-up of the painting I hope will win the $250,000 prize. When I first set my eyes on it I almost burst into tears! And as I got closer I had a difficult time holding those tears back. Then I learned about the painting. Apparently, in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921, there lived the most affluent African-American community in the U.S. and was even dubbed, the Back Wall Street. I don’t know the full story but apparently a large group of white residents descended onto Black Wall Street and burned 35 city blocks to the ground leaving 10,000 African-Americans homeless and up to 300 dead and 800 injured! I certainly never learned this in my American History Class! But I certainly think Shawn Michael Warren has brought all the pain, suffering and anguish of those three days through his painting. I certainly felt it…and it almost knocked me to my knees! It is an impressive 15′ wide painting and titled “In a Promised Land”.

But my small part of ArtPrize is also very interesting. As you might suspect, not a lot of people are knocking down the door to hear me read poetry but those that do are very impressed. At one presentation only one college girl showed up. After an hour of reading poetry and talking about all different things related to my themes,and crying after I read her “Nic”, she told me she was glad she was the only one that showed. Otherwise it would have been much less satisfying. Now, that is why I do this!

I am still here for another 10 days and who knows what other odd and interesting things and people I will run into.

I will keep you posted!

Kevin