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UICA's Live Coverage invites audience to watch artists work, raises funds for art center

An audience of 320 people attended the UICA's Live Coverage event last Friday night to watch artists create and to bid on the finished creations.
Artwork by Jessica Joy London

Artwork by Jessica Joy London /Chelsie Wyse

Underwriting support from:

Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts

2 Fulton West

Grand Rapids, MI 49503



/Chelsie Wyse

Artwork by Alynn Guerra

Artwork by Alynn Guerra /Chelsie Wyse

Over 30 artists used a variety of mediums to create works of art for an audience of 320 attendees at Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (UICA)’s 13th annual Live Coverage event and fundraiser last Friday night. Along with artists working live, 20 more artists donated finished artwork to the event auction, including Rick Beerhorst and Tommy Allen. Auction proceeds were then divided up between paying artists 30% for their work and supporting the UICA, with 70% of the auction proceeds donated to the UICA to continue the projects of the contemporary art center.

“Public creation is important because people don’t understand the process of making artwork and they need to see to understand,” says artist Jenn Schaub, who carved a cityscape print in linoleum block. “This is an integrated cross-representation of the city’s art community. There are students and people you don’t normally see, and it all ultimately comes back to how it supports the UICA and keeps everyone involved in what’s going on.”

Totals raised for the fundraiser are still being finalized. Artist Rick Beerhorst received the highest bid for a piece at $4,000, and painter Stephen Duren came in second at $2,750. Both artists were interacting with attendees over the course of the night.

Attendee David Rosen, the President of Kendall College, says that the participatory dynamics of the event set it apart.

 “Most events are static, where you sit and hear what someone has to say, but with [Live Coverage] you participate and are a part,” says Rosen. “It represents the quality, diversity and spirit of creativity of the arts. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it. People are laughing, talking and having a good time, and that’s what I love about Grand Rapids. There’s such a fervor. [Live Coverage] is my favorite event in town.”

For this year’s event the UICA decreased ticket prices and added additional attractions, including performances by band 800beloved and youth break dance ensemble Aerial Tactic. Raise the Paddle, a part of the live auction designated to raise funds for the UICA's Teen Artworks Program, was also introduced during the live auction.

Throughout the event, attendees interacted with artists as the artists worked with mediums ranging from the traditional to the obscure.

Artist Jessica Joy London used her background in biology to create a 3D cellular sculpture made from plastic petals. She encouraged people to touch the sculpture.

“I’m using synthetic materials to mimic forms in nature,” she says. “You want to touch it because you don’t know what it is, and it turns you back into a child again.”

Artist Ashley Lieber works with moss and tree lichen to create “meditative” pieces of art. This year’s Live Coverage was her first.

“[Usually] making these pieces is an intimate process, so this is different, but I’m excited to share what I do,” says Lieber. “You have the artists but you also have photographers, filmmakers and poets. It very successfully represents the city’s culmination of makers and creative people.”

Elyse Marie, owner and designer at Parliament the Boutique on Division Avenue, designed a leather purse during the course of the night. She says designing fashion in public is her “natural element” because her studio is open to the public eye.

“This is an opportunity to reach out and discuss in detail how leather products are made,” Marie says. “Most people don’t know how they’re made, and this gives them an opportunity to see. It’s really cool and intimate.”

Attendee Jill DeVries has appreciated the event’s intimacy for the past few years.

“I’ve been going to the UICA for as long as I can remember and I’ve gone to Live Coverage since it was in the old Steelcase building,” says DeVries. “I love their mission and what they bring to Grand Rapids, and I love that [Live Coverage] helps people see and support local art.”

Attendee Warren Mason says this year marks his first Live Coverage after a friend invited him.

“I'm surprised by how many people are here, and I love the idea that you can bid on the paintings,” he says. “I just moved here from Brooklyn, and this is the most Brooklyn thing I’ve done even in Brooklyn.”

The UICA’s next special event will be a ping pong tournament coinciding with and sponsoring LaughFest.

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