If it weren’t for ArtPrize, Jeffrey Songco wouldn’t live here. Born and raised in New Jersey, Songco then lived in California for seven years before coming to Grand Rapids, a city he fell in love with after competing in the annual art competition. Songco first participated in ArtPrize 2011, and then 2012, 2015 and 2016. He also has a background in dance and musical theater, built up while attending Carnegie Mellon and the San Francisco Art Institute. Recently, Songco performed for the first time in years in A Chorus Line at Circle Theatre and has been selected as one of the ArtPrize Seed Grants recipients for 2017.
For Gareth Hawkins, tattoos and art are synonymous – in this case, your client’s body is the art gallery for your work, and that piece of work will be on display for years. What started as an apprenticeship at age 19 developed (after many years of “painful” work) into a full-time career and eventual ownership of local tattoo shop Sovereign Arms on Cherry Street. Voted the second-best tattoo artist in Best of the West 2017, you need only see examples of Hawkins’ work to understand that his attention to detail, fine line work and experimentation with style sets him apart from other artists in the area.
Kim Nguyen moved back from Colorado just because she missed Grand Rapids, and she’s been diving deeper into the local art scene ever since, from First Fridays to ArtPrize and Grand Rapids Zine Fest. Nguyen loves to experiment, describing her style as versatile thanks to her many interests. She’s garnered attention with both her ArtPrize entry, Quest Phasing, and her Mom Zine, a delightful collection of conversations with her mother. Nguyen will have her first solo show next year at MadCap Coffee.
JoLee Kirkikis wants you to understand that there’s strength in softness. The 23-year-old Kendall College of Art and Design alumnus works her own photography into collages, also bringing in words and other materials. There’s a delicateness to both the photos themselves and the resulting collages that reverberates through her work. We talked with Kirkikis about her art and its exploration of voluntary susceptibility.
Hannah Berry has loved art as far back as she can remember. The artist, 27, always saw herself having a career in art, except for a very brief time when she tried something else. “But then I was like, ‘What are you doing? You hate this,’” she said. So back to the literal drawing board it was. Now the Kendall College of Art and Design alumna has a gallery of her own, Lions & Rabbits, which is much more complex than just a place for people to hang their pieces. She also recently tied for first place in the Visual Artist category of our 2017 Best of the West Readers Poll. This is her story.
At the start of the show, the house lights go down and the curved screen at the back of the stage lights up with the face of a man named Lee Rifield. See, Rifield is the man who got Mitch Albom — yes, the guy who has written stories for the Detroit Free Press and novels like Tuesdays with Morrie — to finally write a musical about hockey, an idea Albom had brought up years prior.
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