If you want to read the official artists' story behind the SteamPig Experiment, an ArtPrize exhibit at the corner of Fulton and Ottawa streets, you're more than welcome. Or, if you want to look at alternate renditions penned by elementary schoolers across the region, be my guest.

(Here's a quick photo of the pig's ugly mesmerizing head):

But, what I really want to know is -- has anyone thought about the fact that this entry's name is suspiciously similar to a movie filmed here in Grand Rapids, "The Steam Experiment," later retitled "The Chaos Experiment"? No? The idea was initially suggested to me by a friend I'll call "Ace" (he requested a pseudonym for this post), but then when I started thinking about it after seeing the monstrous pig for the second time tonight, I realized there actually are similarities between the film and the artwork (if it can truly be called such a thing).
  • "The Steam Experiment" is about a deranged man (played by Val Kilmer) holding several people hostage in a steamy room until the local newspaper agrees to print the truth about global warming.
  • "The SteamPig Experiment" is a monstrous elevated flying ship pig, and it's holding Grand Rapids and ArtPrize voters captive and culling excessive local media attention.
So you probably don't need anymore proof that there's a definite connection here. All I'm saying is, after the pig makes it into the ArtPrize Top 10, don't be surprised if the artists who designed it admit they had more than one source of inspiration for their work.
I tell ya, there's nothing that gets my brain juices flowing quite as much as ArtPrize. Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons, but this new Grand Rapids tradition makes it even better. This is the first in what I hope to make a series of blog posts about the competition, and here's some mind candy to get you started:

This exhibit by Woody Jones, in the Grand Rapids Public Museum on the third floor, is called "Where do you get those ideas?", and it's a mixed-media sculpture/mechanical assembly with parts operated by a hand crank. It represents the inner workings of a person's mind. Here is the front face view:

And here is the side view, with the head open to show the mechanical scenes, equivalent to thought processes:

The artist was there to discuss his work, and he told me he was so down to the wire with time and short on money to buy supplies that he ended up carving the figurines in the right foreground out of pieces of his own bookshelves at home. I thought that was a little crazy, but I also thought his artwork ended up looking a lot like an artistically executed version of what me and my siblings did to our basement playroom when I was little: a mass network of mini eco-systems. So NOT crazy. :)