The best way I can describe 2013 for me, the city of Grand Rapids, and my brothers and sister in writing would be, “A double scoop of life changing.”
A double scoop?!
Yes, a DOUBLE scoop.
It all started with two minds colliding, which turned into one of the most well oiled machines I have ever had the privilege to work with.
(That other mind is Mitch “PoetLikePoe” burns)
In Grand Rapids, Michigan, there is one event that towers over ANY and ALL events that happen in our busy little big city. That event is Art Prize.
ArtPrize is the LARGEST art competition in all of the world.
I went to Mitch with an idea that had been thrown out to others many times before. That idea was to enter ArtPrize with OUR art, Spoken Word Poetry.
Immediately, Mitch lit up!
After talks of resources, a steadily expanding scene, and a city that loves it’s local artists, Mitch threw out his experience with ArtPrize at The B.O.B.
(F**k the B.O.B I will touch on that later)
He spoke of the sad, disturbing fact that he watched many blind people are unable to appreciate that amazing event in our city, which then carried to the idea of all of the deaf people who have never gotten to experience this cities amazing local preforming art scene.
So, in came the idea of THE FIRST blind-deaf friendly exhibit.
We quickly ran to our brothers in word. (The advanced, the skilled, the seasoned, and the most versatile people who bless our acoustic open mic scene; Which was hosted by “Oz” Azizi Jasper) And we pitched the idea of making this elaborate exhibit that would change the lives of many!
Not only opening the blind eyes of this city (the ones who can see, yet do not take the time to think about those who cannot)
But the lives of those who have never experienced this event, considered four years strong, much less our craft. (Spoken Word)
Everyone immediately started rehearsing. Putting together different ideas to market the event, and gathering
poetry/Hip hop considered acceptable by any demographic.
Mitch took the obligation of reaching out to MSU (The makers of 5,000+ dollars of “Braille books”)
Which contained all of our poetry, our outlook on ArtPrize, our city, and descriptions of pictures seen around the venue in detail, so those who could not SEE the pictures could actually appreciate them.
This was the year, that for the first time, I understood what a driven person could really do.
What I was really capable of…
I quit my job, as the gathering of the materials and the marketing took an exasperating 12 hours a day on most days.
But with the help of a city who believed in the changing/diversifying art prize. 90% of the materials were Sponsored.
Hundreds of dollars in privacy fencing that artists would paint murals on, relating to sound, speech and art.
Hundreds of dollars in gator board/Foam Core.
Hundreds of dollars in oversize printing.
Hundreds of dollars in music stands, over sized magnets, steel sheeting, wood, and more.
Totaling 7,000-10,000 worth of donated materials, after day in and day out, cold calls, and countless turn downs, until many local businesses finally said yes.
My brothers Foster, Venson, Mitch, Stephen, and Duke put in HOURS of sanding privacy fencing for artists to paint, and countless hours of building 70 Lbs. panels that would hang from the Dr. Grins Ceilings.
(In The B.O.B
F**k The B.O.B, I am almosssst there)
It was a double scoop of life changing.
Not only for me or my brothers who many supported, as we raised hundreds for charity throwing events to raise awareness, or who grew in popularity which still gross today through the sale of 250+ T-Shirts which are still worn today (pushing the idea of lashing out with words for good reasons, for a good cause OR the key element of any city, is supporting local preforming arts.)
But also for the many people, The Blind, The Deaf, The Blind and Deaf (Some of which are pictured)
Who FINALLY got to experience ArtPrize. For most of which, for the first time.
And for that, regardless of the cities votes.
Many do not know the dark side of the moon…
The ugly cliffhanger.
Michigan State University was actually going to FEATURE this exhibit in The MSU Art Museum!
Imagine that, 22-30 with your written, painted, and preformed work.
Through braille, brush, video, caption, prints, voice, etc. In a MUSEUM!?
That would be a once in a lifetime feat!!!
But the venue who we supported over a YEAR, and made thousands for through our Spoken Word show “The Message”
Made us tear the exhibit down every Thursday-Sunday, even after multiple news stories, Grand Rapids Press Coverage, multiple local revues, and even out of state revues!
One of which, mid art prize for a Burlesque show held at 5p.m. While families were coming to see our exhibit!(which was incredibly explicit)
(Not to mention the countless blind/deaf people exclusively for our exhibit!)
I wish they could have experienced the taste of “A double scoop of life changing”
But after they THREW THE EXHIBIT away, before it ever got to the museum…
Now, I only hope you taste the bittersweet revenge of karma.
We tried to change The B.O.B’s stigma!
We tried by throwing Hip-Hop Shows with local artists, and we went nearly 200$ over their projected sales, in turn they turned down 50-100 people at the door IN Hip-hop attire, harassed local artists about fitted caps (at a hip hop show) telling the entertainers to remove them or they would be KICKED OUT (but later throwing a country night, where cowboy hats were allowed) racist much?
I get that you like your “stereotypical” clientele but this is a growing city, and the stereotyping you live by, and heartless business ethics are NOT welcome by this cities artist community!
Although the cliffhanger, this city, this state’s support is still legendary!
Lives were changed!
And history was made, and THAT made 2013 for me, and many more.