Standing proudly in front of his painting “Chasing the Pack” at the crowded B.O.B. exhibit, Media Sandbox Director Karl Gude excitedly explained his painting to ArtPrize visitors wandering through Grand Rapids.
“For me, the fun of painting this was creating the illusion of depth and drama on a 2-D surface using oil paint,” said Gude. “I really like how it turned out, so I’m excited for everyone to see it.”
An Art Takeover
Walking around Grand Rapids, it’s clear ArtPrize is deeply woven into the city, from its museums to its bridges. Any location in Grand Rapids can apply to be a venue to showcase art, whether it’s a grocery store or a coffee shop. The international art competition, held from Sept.19 to Oct.7, brings in pieces made by more than 1,400 artists, who have the chance to win several prizes, with monetary awards up to $250,000. Although the artists can rank their venue preferences, it’s ultimately the venue that chooses which art to showcase at their location.
“Originally, the Grand Rapids Art Museum rejected it, and I still hadn’t heard from any of the others when the B.O.B. emailed me and said ‘We’d like to show your painting!’,” said Gude. “I was thrilled and said yes right away.”
A Long Road
Gude started the painting nearly three years ago, after deciding to do something with the canvas his wife had once used for a photography booth. Professionally made by a carpenter, the giant canvas laying in his foyer spanned 68 x 68 inches. Looking for inspiration, Gude stumbled across the black and white drawing of a bike race he drew and photocopied from 1986 for the cover of the New York Daily News. After using a grid to transfer the drawing to his canvas, he began the journey of bringing his painting to life.
“The reason it took me three years wasn’t because I was struggling, it’s because I had no plans for it," said Gude. “It was just a black and white drawing. I didn’t know what the clouds were going to look like. I didn’t have any models to pose for me.”
After experimenting with different painting styles and working on the piece for two years, Gude decided to submit his work to an art show.
“The way I work best is with a deadline,” said Gude. “That’s the way I worked in journalism all my life. I needed to enter a show so I would have a deadline if I got in. It was at a point that they could tell what it was going to look like, so I submitted it to the Art Prize.”
It was a race to the finish line as Gude put the finishing touches on his painting. His painting was chosen to be showcased at the B.O.B., and the rest is history.
“The painting was still wet when I hung it at the B.O.B and I got oil paint all over me,” said Gude. “I have no illusion about winning any prizes, but I really like how it turned out, so I’m excited for everyone to see it.”
By Sierra Richards