By Cynthia Price
There he is, the man who is arguably the favorite native son of greater Grand Rapids, the 38th President of the United States, on the corner of Pearl and Monroe, looking at a bronze bust of himself.
It is only when one takes a closer look that it becomes clear that the nattily-dressed Gerald R. Ford is a resin image created especially for ArtPrize.
But what better place to put the images? Law firm Barnes and Thornburg, LLP, and artist Sunti Pichetchaiyakul formed a win-win partnership that has resulted in the artwork winning a Top Ten spot after the first week of public voting in the “radically open” art competition.
According to Tracy T. Larsen, Managing Partner of Barnes and Thornburg’s Grand Rapids office, “The work of Sunti Pichetchaiyakul caught our eye immediately. He is an incredible artist and his life story is inspirational. He in turn had an interest in displaying his art in our high-traffic venue.”
Sunti Pichetchaiyakul was born in Thailand but came to the United States in 2008 to seek his fortune as an artist. Pichetchaiyakul had an entry in last year’s competition, a resin rendering of an extremely lifelike monk. But his current entry, one that “commemorates an American legend, beloved by the people of Grand Rapids,” according to his artist statement at artprize.org, has drawn even greater attention.
Says Larsen, “The response has been nothing short of incredible.”
Many law firms have participated in ArtPrize over its threeyears, as detailed in previous Grand Rapids Legal News issues. Warner, Norcross and Judd and McGarry Bair continued their sponsorships in 2011, and Varnum was a premier benefactor sponsor. Most do it for similar reasons to B&T’s.
As Larsen explains, “Barnes and Thornburg is deeply involved in our communities across the nation, and we are always looking for ways to lend support to important events, particularly those that benefit such a broad spectrum of people. ArtPrize has become a key event in West Michigan that enhances the public's appreciation of the arts. It is recognized globally. We were excited to participate this year...and...
equally proud to be associated with Sunti.”