The Rapidian

Artist with local roots returns to GR for opening reception

/All images courtesy of Christopher Apap

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Curious about what "X" looks like?

The opening reception starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 7. The show runs from Jan. 7 - Feb. 27 at The Sparrows. Viewers can check out the collection during shop hours:

  • Monday - Thursday: 8 a.m. - Midnight
  • Friday: 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Sunday: 9 a.m. - Midnight
Get a sneak peek at more work on the <a href="">FB event album</a>.

Get a sneak peek at more work on the FB event album.

The illustrator himself.

The illustrator himself.

Edward Gorey's morbid alphabet ("A is for Amy who fell down the stairs"), Charley Harper's works of wildlife curved into letters... Stylized alphabets recede into the distance, but illustrator Christopher Apap feels he is bringing something new to the table.

"After doing some research online and in bookstores, I realized that there aren't any alphabet books that focus on camping gear and, to a lesser degree, nature encountered while camping."

Apap is traveling back from Chicago, Ill. to unveil an abecedarian oeuvre called "C is for Camping" this Friday at The Sparrows Coffee, Tea and Newsstand (1035 Wealthy SE).

"The show was on the calendar before I moved from GR," Apap said. "When [the curator] contacted me to see if I still wanted to do it, I had to. Not because of a calendar but because I made a promise to myself to do this show. Also, Michigan is my home and where most of the inspiration came from."

Apap is from Grosse Ile, Mich. and graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2005. He is an illustrator by training but graphic designer by trade.

Apap has always wanted to create a children's book, and the exhibit comprises enlargements of his alphabet reader. His inspiration came during summer 2009, when he went on a camping blitz to distract from recent unemployment. One particular trip was with his father, brother-in-law and nephew.

"Being Niko's first camping trip, ever, it was great to see him discover how a tent is put up and things like that. He really brings out the kid in me (he's turning 7 this February!). I credit him with planting the inspiration for this book," Apap said. "And now that Jericho, my 6-month-old nephew, is here, I hope to find inspiration through both of them; just hope they can get the same from me."

For Friday night's opening reception, Apap has framed 26 illustrations created in just under two months using pens of the trade on French Paper, a paper mill based in Niles, Mich. He began pairing letters with concepts last March, but five letters were especially difficult to illustrate.

"'O,' 'Q,' 'Y,' 'X' and 'Z' were my tormentors," Apap said. "At one point I was looking up names for gear in different languages, but that would have been a lame cop-out. So I broadened the view and opened the dictionary once more. In the end, 'X' still feels like I cheated somehow."

It always feels like a homecoming for Apap when he visits Grand Rapids. He collaborated often with the community, ranging from groups like ArtPeers and the Rotary Club of Grand Rapids to businesses such as Stevens Advertising and Belwith Products. Once a member of the Burnboy Studio collective, the last time he showed an extensive body of work was three years ago.

"It feels good to draw again and actually do something in my degree ... but at the same time, I'm happy that I didn't just produce work to do it," Apap emphasized. "I just let it happen instead of forcing it."

Disclosure: Chris Apap is a friend.

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