Grand Rapids, Michigan (April 10, 2014) SiTE:LAB announces its plans for ArtPrize 2014. The two-time winner of ArtPrize’s Outstanding Venue juried award will occupy the former Morton Hotel, located at 72 Monroe Center, for the annual art competition.
The building is being made available to SiTE:LAB by Rockford Construction Company, which acquired the property in 2011 and is converting its upper floors to apartments and its public spaces for retail, restaurant and other commercial use. “We are so fortunate to have Rockford as a partner in this project,” said SiTE:LAB founder and curator Paul Amenta. “They have gone so far as to adjust their development schedule to insure that certain spaces will be available during ArtPrize.”
Mike Mraz, Rockford’s vice president of real estate development explained the developer’s rationale for working with SiTE:LAB. “Because most of the spaces in the building have been closed to the public for so many years, we are excited to let the community in during ArtPrize. We are familiar with SiTE:LAB’s previous projects utilizing vacant buildings as exhibition venues, and feel they are the perfect group for us to work with on making this happen.”
The portion of the building to be used by SiTE:LAB include the elegant hotel lobby, the remains of two restaurants, and the former home of the Kent State Bank, including its original vault. “These spaces are so special, so unique architecturally, and so filled with traces of the building’s history. We will have artists fighting for a spot,” said Amenta, who is currently touring artists through the space and considering proposals for the estimated eight large-scale installations that will make up the exhibition.
SiTE:LAB holds itself out as a “nomadic” arts organization, generally utilizing vacant and underutilized downtown buildings for temporary projects and exhibitions. Its previous ArtPrize exhibitions have been in the then-vacant Junior Achievement Building at Division and Fulton and the former Grand Rapids Public Museum at 54 Jefferson. In addition to its two Outstanding Venue juried awards, pieces in SiTE:LAB’s three previous ArtPrize exhibitions have won a total of five juried awards, including both winners of the $100,000 grand prize juried award.