Local families host artists for ArtPrize: ‘They can see the spirit of our community’

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As ArtPrize's popularity and reach continues to grow and attract artists from out of state and even the country, many of them need a place to stay while they're in town.

That's where several local families come in, volunteering to open up their homes and host the artists each year.

Karen and Tom Weaver volunteered to host an artists for the first time this year after volunteering with the event in previous years.

"We used to volunteer and this year.... I just needed an artist," Karen Weaver said.

From left to right, Jack Howard-Potter stands with Karen and Tom Weaver, his ArtPrize host family.

From left to right, Jack Howard-Potter stands with Karen and Tom Weaver, his ArtPrize host family.

She got one. New York City artist Jack Howard-Potter temporarily moved in with the couple allowing them the opportunity to give Howard-Potter a taste of Beer City.

"It's  a chance to bring in this really fabulous artist from New York City and for them to get a feeling of what we can do in West Michigan," she said. "Being able to host them so they can see the spirit of our community."

Weaver said she and her husband Tom have shared meals, even bike rides with Howard-Potter and both were present last week to watch as he installed his ArtPrize entry at the Fifth Third Bank Plaza downtown last weekend.

Howard-Potter is just one of about 100 artists who signed up this year looking for a place to stay while in Grand Rapids. The program itself has become a tradition right along with the annual event.

Staying with a host family as opposed to in a hotel was an opportunity Howard-Potter said afforded him the chance to get a much more unique and personal perspective of the city.

"They've been absolutely amazing and I've been really surprised by the attitude of all the venues and everybody that's involved," he said. "Everybody's incredibly open, and helpful and willing to do whatever the artist needs, which is kind of a new thing for me."

Howard-Potter's entry in this year's competition, entitled 'Figures in Motion' encompass five different metal sculptures that range in size from three to 20 feet tall.

Families interested in hosting an artist can fill out an application and then choose from a list of interested artists who make the best match.

Many previous ArtPrize award winners including Adonna Khare have been hosted by local families.

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