Familiar faces return for ArtPrize Seven

Left: Seasons by Robin Protz. Right: Rolling down by the Kroeze Krew. Both pieces are at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. (Sept. 24, 2015)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two artists who have previously found favor with voters are set up right next to each other at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel for ArtPrize Seven.

Robin Protz and Nick Kroeze have been competing in ArtPrize for a number of years. ArtPrize Seven marks Protz’s fourth time in the competition and Kroeze’s sixth.

Protz won seventh place in the 2013 competition for her entry Myth-or-Logic but was disqualified in 2012 for her piece The Dragon. She has put all of that behind her for this year’s competition.

“I’m a famous and infamous person here in Grand Rapids, but I’m here this year and I brought you guys something beautiful,” Protz said.

Her entry for ArtPrize Seven is called Seasons (vote code 61730) and it represents the transformation that trees go through during the course of a year.

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“I have had a tree in my brain for several years and it was the fact that I could return to ArtPrize that I said ‘okay, I get to do this tree and what should this tree be out of,” Protz said.

The tree is a part of the 3-D category and is comprised of mostly poinsettias, bamboo and line.

“Over 75 six-foot links of bamboo … You heat treat it, cut, drill it and you’re ready to go. It takes a long time. Just what you’re seeing all together is three to four months. Preparing the lines is about a week, just to get the hook attached to the line because there are thousands of them,” Protz said.

The Kroeze Krew piece from last year, The Pond, made it into the Final 20. This year, the Krew entered a 3-D waterfall called Rolling Down (vote code 62043). It stands 24 feet tall and is hand-crafted out of thousands of pieces of wood.

ArtPrize Seven Rolling Down Nick Kroeze 092415
(Rolling Down.)

“The waterfall was built in four different sections that were assembled together for the first time here at the Amway Grand. The side pieces are six different sections and they were likewise assembled here for the first time,” Nick Kroeze explained. “There’s over 3,000 pieces just in the waterfall and each one of those pieces was hand cut, heat bent and was actually handled 11 different times during the process to apply the finish and attach it.”

Kroeze started building the piece after Christmas with his two sons and son-in-law. It is made out of seven different types of wood and has a Bible verse on the sides.

“It’s from an Old Testament prophet named Amos and in 1965, right after Rosa Parks took her stand on the bus, Martin Luther King (Jr.) came down to Montgomery and gave his first speech and he quoted this verse, ‘Let justice roll down like water and righteousness like the mighty stream,’ and it’s an honor here in Grand Rapids that we have this special Rosa Parks memorial,” Kroeze told 24 Hour News 8.

Both Protz and Kroeze said they are looking forward to this year’s competition and hope the public understands the deeper meaning behind the artwork.

“The piece tries to represent the nature of our diverse society,” he said. “By starting out with seven different woods at the top that are very distinct and as like water cascades down the face of the waterfall, it begins to break apart and intermingle, and so in the art piece, that represents time and events that can actually draw us together as a community in a way that we can appreciate diversity if we’re willing to work for it.”

“I want people to just be happy,” Protz said. “I just think we need a moment of escape and that’s the purpose of this art, is to let people just for a moment believe in that fantasy land that we believed in when we were little, before we grew up and learned how to drive and found out that accidents happen and responsibilities don’t go away.”

Both pieces can be seen on the first floor of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel on Monroe Avenue NW.

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