Through adversity, the massive BLM sculpture stands at ArtPrize

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – An ArtPrize room located on the northwest side of Grand Rapids premiered in 2020, when much was uncertain around the world due to COVID-19 and pushing for greater equality .

Paul Hudacek’s ArtPrize entry was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Hudacek and his partner, who is also an artist, both contracted COVID-19 last year. They are considered long haul; they have been showing symptoms of COVID-19 for over a year now. While they were sick, they were forced to miss the protests against police brutality.

“We were horribly down with COVID and I was trying to take care of her, and I was so disgusted with what was going on with the country, with George Floyd – and it happened, and I was so disgusted. and appalled, ”said Hudacek.

Hudacek decided to make a statement through his work ArtPrize, a sculpture called BLM. Unfortunately, the effects of COVID-19 reduced the work time he would normally have had.

“It bothered me so much and I couldn’t go out and physically protest because I couldn’t leave my partner for more than 20, 30 minutes at a time and I had to do something,” said Hudacek. “I was flying 20 minutes here, half an hour there and making sure she was okay, and running (to work on it). It kept me alive but also helped me create something to get the point across.

BLM, a 2021 ArtPrize sculpture created by Paul Hudacek, sits outside the Linear Restaurant in Grand Rapids. (September 16, 2021)

Hudacek, from the Pontiac area, who says he has been an artist all his life, creates a wide range of works including abstract sculptures, figurative sculptures and oil paintings. He also designs and manufactures furniture. He and his partner Alyce Voit have a studio, where there is a public sculpture garden.

“This is what we do,” said Hudacek. “Some of the pieces we make are 10,000 pound sculptures. We hope not only to visually evoke that part of Woodward, just south of Pontiac, but also to help inspire locals, local kids when people drive by.

MESSAGE BEHIND THE POWERFUL SCULPTURE, ‘NOT OBVIOUS’

The art that he and his partner create does not usually involve political messages, but more recently.

“I have a lot of problems with what’s going on in this country today. I am really disheartened and appalled by the way our pro-Americans treat each other and do not want to help each other. They kind of encourage more hate than love, ”Hudacek said.

He felt the message of his ArtPrize sculpture was “extremely important” because of how blacks and brunettes were often victims of police brutality and Asians were treated differently after COVID-19 was first identified. in China.

“It’s not a temporal thing; it’s something that needs to be addressed to this country, ”said Hudacek. “It’s almost to the point where people give up and don’t even seem to be considering this stuff. It’s discouraging.

He described his ArtPrize sculpture as “literal but not horribly obvious”.

“You can almost watch it and not understand what it is, so it’s almost a way to turn people on who might not be excited about the message,” Hudacek said.

BLM, a 2021 ArtPrize sculpture created by Paul Hudacek, sits outside the Linear Restaurant in Grand Rapids. (September 16, 2021)

He said some might not notice the sculpture’s message right away.

“I kind of make them think twice about what’s going on too,” he said. “They will love the art, but they will also love the message it conveys. “

BLM weighs over 4,000 pounds and stands over 10 feet tall. The sculpture can be disassembled to facilitate its transport.

“It’s big and it’s heavy and it’s powerful and it’s right there,” said Hudacek.

The sculpture was created from recycled parts, including the bolts. The machine used to assemble it was also reused.

Hudacek said he doesn’t always use recycled pieces in his artwork.

“I have made bronze sculptures, figurative bronzes, and I cannot justify the environmental cost of melting new materials and all this energy that goes into it,” he said. “So we make do with whatever is locally available, and we make it our art. ”

All of the parts used in the couple’s more recent work have already paid the initial environmental price.

“Then we turn them into beautiful works of art, or messaging is what I sort of focus on,” he said.

ALLOW EMISSIONS ALMOST BLOCK ARTPRIZE BLM

There were seven places that wanted the sculpture. Hudacek chose to exhibit his piece at Linear Restaurant at 1001 Monroe Avenue NW.

BLM, a 2021 ArtPrize sculpture created by Paul Hudacek, sits outside the Linear Restaurant in Grand Rapids. (September 16, 2021)

In the weeks leading up to ArtPrize, Hudacek faced challenges. Just eight weeks before the event started, Hudacek was told he had to request a temporary use permit with the city to exhibit the piece.

“So I filled it out, submitted it and then they said, ‘Oh, that wasn’t enough information,'” said Hudacek.

He said the city wanted a site plan and was unfamiliar with the property lines. He also said he had not received all the necessary information from the owner of the restaurant.

A week after submitting the information, including an insurance document, the city told Hudacek it was reviewing the claim. A week later, he received a call telling him that he had not completed the correct form and that he had to apply for special event permit. He was then invited to speak to another department. It became a back-and-forth situation between departments and Hudacek wasn’t sure the paperwork would be sorted out in time for ArtPrize.

With a week to go, the questions remained.

“I died in the water. Nothing is organized, ”said Hudacek, adding that he didn’t know what to do at this point.

He was worried that there would not be enough time to dismantle, organize a big truck and transport in the time left.

“So there are a number of factors in there,” Hudacek said.

Despite all the stress, Hudacek remained positive. It paid off. BLM arrived at his ArtPrize location outside of the Linear Restaurant with a day to spare.

An undated courtesy photo of Paul Hudacek standing next to his 2021 BLM ArtPrize sculpture outside the Linear Restaurant in Grand Rapids.

“Be positive: this is my blood type and my attitude,” Hudacek joked.

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