In mid-September, Ann Arbor artist Margaret Parker packed two semitrailers with art and rode with them to Grand Rapids. It wasn’t a one-woman show–it was a single giant structure that she built in a south-side warehouse, disassembled for transport, and then re-created in Calder Plaza. Now all the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission chair can do is hope that viewers like her C’ood–short for “common good”–best among the more than 1,700 works competing for the $250,000 top prize.
Conceived by twenty-something Amway heir Rick DeVos and funded by the family’s foundation, the first ArtPrize drew more than 200,000 visitors last year. Twenty-four feet in diameter and ten feet high, C’ood is a circular tunnel of steel and wood wrapped in a colorful webbing made of cut-up T-shirts–each bearing the name of a town or city in Michigan, or of the state itself.
Parker’s T-shirt tunnel cost $11,000 to create, built, and transport, so she solicited donations–of both shirts and money–via the Internet and two fundraising parties this summer. Any ArtPrize attendee with a valid ID can vote electronically, and the competition is formidable. But with its prime spot in the heart of downtown, Parker’s piece will be impossible to miss–and maybe some visitors will recognize their favorite T-shirts.