Cindy M. Cranmer

Rockford man is co-creator of top 10 ArtPrize entry receiving national media attention

October 4, 2012 // 0 Comments

by Cindy M. Cranmer A Rockford man is one of the co-creators of an ArtPrize entry being discussed locally and internationally after thousands and thousands of participants and spectators gathered Friday night to help Mark Carpenter and Dan Johnson realize their vision for ArtPrize and landing their entry in the top 10. Dan Johnson, of Rockford, and Mark Carpenter, of Grand Rapids, both felt the event was an extreme success with more than 50,000 people in attendance. Round two of ArtPrize voting opened on Sunday, Sept. 30 and runs through Thursday, Oct. 4. ArtPrize attendees can vote for one of the top 10 entries with the code to vote for Lights in the Night being 52910. See related story on the top 10 ArtPrize entries. The theme of Lights in the Night is to symbolize where hope takes flight in the form of sky lanterns representing individual hopes, dreams and wishes. More than 15,000 Chinese sky lanterns were launched from coordinated key points in the downtown Grand Rapids area on Friday, Sept. 28. “You offer up your dreams and hopes for the future or even reconcile events of your past in a symbolic lantern launch,” the entry described. Being at this event Friday night, this reporter was able to experience Lights in the Night firsthand. The sense of community, the emotional outpouring of feelings and the awe of seeing the lanterns in the sky was amazing. While words such as “magical,” “beautiful,” “wonderful,” “amazing,” “enchanting” and “inspiring” were used to describe the launch, it is much harder to put in words the sense of community and the overflowing of emotions at the event. The event made a last impression, which was the goal, Johnson said. Some have criticized Lights in the Night as the event skyrocketed in a 24-hour period through the ratings bypassing the top 100 and the top 50 on its climb to the top 25 and then to the top 10. Johnson told The Rockford Squire the key components of ArtPrize are to “get out of the box” and find something that is art but is not as traditional, to involve the community and to leave a lasting impression. “It was super successful on all three of those accounts,” Johnson said. “Our […]

Rockford group to submit entry, perform at ArtPrize

September 13, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER A Rockford woman is working to turn her dream into reality with an ArtPrize performance that will feature 90 area singers as well as a song entry the public can vote on at the event. ArtPrize, which runs this year from September 19 to October 7, was founded in 2009 and has been restructured over the last four years but still features the world’s largest art prize along with being the largest art competition to decide its awards by public vote. There will be 16 prizes totaling $550,000 that will be distributed in 2012. Of this amount, $350,000 will be decided by a direct vote of attending visitors and $200,000 by a panel of jurors. The top public vote awards will be for $200,000 for first, $75,000 for second, $50,000 for third and $5,000 for fourth through 10th places. For more information on ArtPrize, visit “It is my dream to organize a 90-voice choir from the Rockford community to perform at ArtPrize 2012,” said Renee Vande Wege, Rockford Community Choir director. Members of local church choirs, professional singers, high school choir members or individuals who have a singing talent but are not currently involved in any group all are welcome to join the Rockford Community Choir for the performance. “We’re excited. We’re probably a little nervous. We’re feeling all the things you feel before you perform,” she said. The choir that is being put together features a gamut of voices from a fifth-grader through a 75-year-old area resident. Vande Wege took over conducting the Rockford Community Choir from Kayle Clements, a local composer. The ArtPrize entry the public can vote on will be a piece that the Rockford Area Arts Commission commissioned Clements to write. The vote code is 53416. Two Roads is a four-part a capella piece that will be performed at St. Cecilia Music Center at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22. A four-person recording will showcase the entry so the public can vote when the group is not performing. Two Roads uses the text of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” Vande Wege said. “The idea for this song evolved out of my life journey this past year and my desire to draw together the multitude of […]

Students release salmon as end to unique classroom project

August 30, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER East Rockford Middle School (ERMS) students ended a unique classroom experience with a field trip to the Rogue River and the release of about 30 Chinook salmon smolts into the river. The program, Salmon in the Classroom, was funded by the Grand River Fly Tyers and involved a partnership between the seventh-grade biology classes at ERMS, the Fly Tyers and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE). The Grand River Fly Tyers provided all the aquarium equipment and financial support for the program. Jeff Bryant, a seventh-grade teacher at ERMS, took the training and involved his biology and science students in the program. “The culmination of this science project with the release of the salmon has been great,” Bryant said. “The students selected have been so excited.” Approximately 130 students in five different classes were involved with 25 being randomly selected to attend the field trip to release the salmon smolts in the Rogue River. The DNRE participates in the year-long program by providing the teachers who are involved in the program with training and fertilized salmon eggs from a DNRE fish hatchery. The students hatch the eggs out, feed and raise the small fry in a tank, and then release the three- to four-inch young salmon smolts into the Rogue River. The salmon will eventually make their way to Lake Michigan, where they will live for three to four years before returning to the Rogue River in Rockford to spawn. About 200 Chinook salmon eggs were placed into the tank on November 8, 2011 and about 30 were released into the Rogue River at Richardson-Sowerby Park on May 9, 2012. Losing so many salmon in the first year is not unusual and also teaches the students a lesson about nature and survival. “This was really fun to see them everyday and now to release them,” said Grace Kropiewnicki, seventh-grader. “I was really excited to be selected.” Kropiewnicki said the students may see the salmon again someday, or at least maybe people like her brother who fish in the Rogue River. The Salmon in the Classroom program has been running for several years. It teaches students about everything from the life cycles of salmon to life history of fish to […]

Rockford woman takes organization that helps with adoption costs national

August 8, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER A Rockford woman has put together an organization that is helping athletes come to the aid of abandoned and orphaned children worldwide while doing the activities that they enjoy. Rebecca Cruttenden, Team Orphans founder, expanded the organization nationwide in February. Team Orphans also partners with organized events. They are an official charity partner for the Grand Rapids marathon, half marathon and relay on Sunday, Oct. 21, as well as the 5K and 10K events on Saturday, Oct. 20. “It’s a charity campaign for athletes,” Cruttenden said. “There was nothing I could see out there as a benefit for adoption and orphans.” She added, “Anybody picks a race they want to do. It can be biking, walking, running, a triathlon. They set a fundraising goal and 100 percent goes toward child adoption grants.” They work with Brittany’s Hope, a Pennsylvania-based organization helping unite special needs children and families throughout the United States, who want to adopt but are burdened by the cost. Special needs children means kids older than the age of two, sibling groups who want to remain together, to kids who have medical or other special needs. International adoption costs about $30,000 and there are 153 million orphans. Domestic adoptions cost between $10,000 and $15,000. Cruttenden was a 2003 grant recipient when she and her husband, Tom, got their children who were three, four and five. Rosa is now 12, Andre 13 and Sasha 14. Brittany’s Hope has helped 350 children be adopted through grant assistance. About $13,000 has been pledged from 33 team members in 12 different states since February. Brittany’s Hope gives grants primarily to seven different adoption agencies. Bethany Christian Services is one of the larger agencies they work with. Cruttenden, who has raised more than $17,000 personally for Brittany’s Hope in the past two years, will compete in a third Ironman race in November 2012. “When I was in Texas for Ironman, I was excited about raising money. I couldn’t find anyone else who was doing it for a cause,” Cruttenden said. “It’s a huge, huge commitment to do an Ironman. God put it on my heart to give them a cause.” An Ironman is 140.6 miles of biking, swimming and running that has to be […]

Elementary students have opportunity to create works for Art Attack

July 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER More than one-third of the students at Lakes Elementary School participated in the first-ever art competition and creativity display at the Rockford school. Art Attack, which the students considered as their version of ArtPrize, included entries from kindergarten through fifth-grade students, according to Matt Zokoe, the fourth-grade teacher who led the Lakes Elementary Student Council in putting together the event. The Lakes Student Council wanted to coordinate an event for the school as part of their mission. Art Attack allows students to express their creativity without feeling compelled to do a project in a particular manner. The entries in Art Attack were completed and on display as part of the annual Art Make-and-Take. Kenn Vidro, art teacher, has a passion for art, whether creating it or helping students learn how to express their creativity. “Art is about the students expressing their creativity,” Vidro said. Art Attack allowed students to do any type of artwork that was original. Vidro said some students did artwork to share with other people, such as paintings on canvas, which they are not able to do in art classes because of the expense and don’t want to do just for themselves. All 504 students at Lakes Elementary had works on display at the Art Make-and-Take. There were 161 entries and 190 participants in the first Art Attack. Students were able to either enter an individual piece or work with someone on their artwork. Zokoe said all students did their piece on their own time and received a ribbon for participation. “We wanted to emphasize this is about an art expression not art competition,” he said. The Lakes Elementary students were able to vote and choose their favorite 10 entries as part of Art Attack. The winners, whether an individual or a pair of students, received recognition certificates and gift cards for entry to visit the art at Fred Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park along with recognition at an all-school assembly. “This allowed students to go outside the mold and be individuals,” Zokoe said. The Lakes Elementary Student Council funds its projects, such as the costs of Art Attack and donations to Kids Food Baskets, through events such as a school store. “The students have been inspired by […]

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