I have been visiting Grand Rapids, Mich., for many years going back to the early 1980s, when my uncle worked downtown. Things have come a long way for this wonderful town since those days, and one of its amazing annual events is ArtPrize.
This will be the seventh year of this international art event, which awards the world’s largest art prize — two $200,000 awards are decided by public vote and expert jury, and an additional $100,000 in prizes is awarded to the top entries in each category.
ArtPrize 2014 included 1,536 entries representing 51 countries and 42 U.S. states and territories, and the event attracted more than 400,000 active participants. Since its inception, individuals of all backgrounds have cast more than 2.4 million votes for public art.
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In April 2013 ArtPrize inked a deal with Founders Brewing Co. making it the official brewery of ArtPrize for the next five years.
Founders has just announced that this year’s ArtPrize beer will be Spectra Trifecta, brewed in the traditional Kölsch style. Proceeds from the sale of this new beer will benefit ArtPrize. It will be available in bottles throughout Michigan, Wisconsin, greater New York City and greater Chicago, and draft will be sent throughout Founders’ distribution footprint.
“I love coming up with the recipe for the ArtPrize beer every year,” said Founders Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki. “For the past two years, I’ve worked on our pilot system to develop an approachable, lower alcohol beer with tons of flavor. This year’s beer is brewed using a different fermentation process than what we usually use, and is made with some fun, nontraditional ingredients.”
Kölsch beers originated in Cologne, Germany, but many U.S. brewers are trying their hand at this style. They resemble lagers, but are actually brewed with ale yeast (typically fermented at 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit), fermented at lager temperatures (usually between 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit). This creates something like a German pale ale, yet has a clean finish without fruity yeast esters.
According to the brewery, “This bright, golden beer is brewed with a trifecta of natural ingredients: earthy, floral and slightly sweet chamomile; a touch of citrusy lemongrass; and a hint of spicy fresh ginger. At 5.9 percent ABV and 20 IBUs, it’s delightfully refreshing.”
Founders Family members were given the opportunity to submit their portfolios to find an artistic match for the Spectra Trifecta label, without knowing anything about the beer. Alexis Brooke’s nature-inspired pen and ink drawings fit well with the character of this beer, so she was selected to create the label, with a focus on illustrating the beer’s special ingredients. Alexis is a Grand Rapids native and has been a Founders employee since fall 2014, working in the deli and on the catering team. She created this mixed media piece with markers, ink and watercolors.
“Founders is now undoubtedly one of the finest craft brewers not only in Michigan but in the entire United States,” said Christian Gaines, executive director of ArtPrize. “We’re immeasurably proud to call Founders the official ArtPrize Brewery and share in the excitement of their new special release, Spectra Trifecta—a culmination of our partnership, built upon a mutual passion for our community and the creativity that resides within it.”
In addition, Founders’ tap room is one of the ArtPrize venues where you can view art. “Ninkasi”, a stained glass piece that was exhibited at the brewery during ArtPrize 2013 is now a permanent installation in the tap room. It also showed up on the label for Mosaic Promise last year.
Artists Matt and Elizabeth Kolenda, Adrianne Hollemans and Maria Orr, who make up Kolenda Art Glass and created the piece, had this to say about their work: “Just as new, creative brewers everywhere are challenging the age-old custom of brewing beer, ‘Ninkasi’ puts an exciting spin on the common perception of what stained glass form is and was ‘supposed’ to be.”
ArtPrize 2015 will take place September 23 through October 11, and Founders’ taproom will be a venue for the seventh year running. More than 400,000 people are expected to attend ArtPrize and it is a wonderful event with art all over the city.
Spectra Trifecta will be featured at official ArtPrize events and will be available in the tap room beginning Monday, September 14.