Silhouettes of gunmen atop UICA sparks ArtPrize entry controversy

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - An artist's exhibit atop a downtown Grand Rapids building started causing controversy in the days leading up to ArtPrize.

The silhouettes of what appear to depict soldiers - some with guns - were placed on top of the UICA building this week.

The installation is called "there's something happening here." The name is lyrics from the Buffalo Springfield song "For what it's 20140911_115322worth."

The owner of the building is CWD Real Estate.

Lisa Young, CWD's marketing manager, told FOX 17 the company will be "more careful about who we work with" in the future.

Young says they didn't expect guns to be part of the installation.

Artist Henry Brimmer, East Lansing, Mich.

Artist Henry Brimmer, East Lansing, Mich.

FOX 17 News has learned the artist behind the exhibit is Henry Brimmer of East Lansing.

Brimmer says the preliminary sketches he submitted to CWD did not show guns, but made a note that the "sketches were roughly drawn" and should be "considered a work in progress."

Brimmer said he had he had "no mislead" and he "feels horrible" that anyone would think  he tried to sneak in the guns.

"I heard they were not very happy there were figures with guns," Brimmer explained to FOX 17. "But I have to say, art isn't always pretty or decorative. Art need (sic) to be accepted as spanning the gamut of human expression."

A tweet from Marty Brooks, a nearby resident said, "Nothing like waking up in the morning and looking out your window to see an outline of a sniper."

"I think it should have an element of surprise," said Brimmer. "Naturally, you can`t dismiss the fact that the figures are military folks and I think it has to do with a little bit of surveillance and a little bit of  the increasing military presence."


ArtPrize begins September 24th.


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  • Andrew VanNorman

    I’m sure the GRPD is aware of an art installation like this. Let’s look at the context of the date in another way: It is September 11th, the anniversary of the day our nation started to resemble a war zone (and is now actually declared one by the federal government). Those silhouettes could just as easily be portraying a standing military presence in our nation as anything else. As a veteran of the US Infantry, I don’t quite know how to take Marty Brooks’ comment. I’m sure you were just a bit puzzled by these strange figures rather than diving for cover and hiding with your children knowing that your neighborhood was coming under mass scale attack again. Take a minute to think about those around the world for whom this *is* an actual daily problem, and put your “first world problems” in perspective. “Let’s all be offended by freedom of expression and use our fear as a motivation to ban things that make us uncomfortable!” Those are the principles our nation was founded on… Right?… SMH

  • Really?!

    People need to quit being so sensitive. It is art. The artist has a right to freedom of expression. If you don’t like it then don’t view it. No one likes every piece of art. We have become a nation of whiners and feel that nothing or no one should be able to offend us.

    • steve

      A classic example of “You have the right to do it, but is it the right thing to do?”. Yes, and absolutely no. It’s a “look at me” mindset of someone without regard for the feelings of may others.

      • Timothy

        Other people’s feelings aren’t his responsibility. It’s the other person who needs to get used to the fact that guns are real and he/she will come in contact with people with guns because I don’t think it will be long (maybe 5 years) before any stranger on the street more likely than not has a fire arm. And you can either join them and get your own gun or you can be leaving your life in the hands of a stranger.

  • yup

    Oh my god a gun you people are dumb yes it’s September 11 but the world won’t stop due to a day. Who cares cars kill more people then guns you don’t picket the dealerships do you.

  • CommonSense

    Just what we need, another wanna be art idiot putting “sculpture” out on ledges, probably without the proper permits. I wonder if these people ever consider the time and effort that police dispatch has to waste in taking calls on this. Artprize going to pay their overtime??? Guess what artist person, this has done before, sorry to spoil the surprise…

  • Greg Fricke

    My thoughts on this particular art effort are the exact same as my thoughts on about 98% of the things I see at ArtPrize: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.