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Hundreds Attend 24th Annual Tanglefoot Art Event

Mariano Avila

People streamed in and out of the Tanglefoot building on Grand Rapid’s West Side on Friday and Sunday for the 24th annual artist and studio open house.    

It’s like Soho in the 90s—a gritty, brick exterior next to a scrap-metal yard. Creaky wooden staircases lead up from a warehouse to several thousand square feet of artist studios.

“The building has been here for more than 100 years. I was going to say originally, but they are still making the fly strips, that’s why it’s called Tanglefoot.”

That’s Alynn Guerra, a relief print artist. Right before doors opened, I talked to her and her friend Carlos Aceves right before doors opened. They came up from Mexico City and started Red Hydrant Press in the building.

For both of them, the event is more than just a party or an art sale.

“ It’s a way to share for two days per year, who we are and what we do,” says Aceves.

Hearing stories behind the art, while sharing their workspace is what makes this such an intimate and rare event. Themes vary from the tough times in Aceves’s new work--

“…time, because my brother died of cancer and for me time became a part of my life.”

--to Guerra’s celebration of new life

“I started printing on shirts, and baby’s shirts, and my husband and I are doing an alphabet-based series. And that’s all inspired by the little one, so that’s interesting because before her I would have never done that.”

Minutes after I interviewed Aceves and Guerra, the doors opened and hundreds of people poured in.

They jammed to the music, dug into the hors d’oeuvres, listened to the stories and of course, experienced art one step closer to the artists behind it. 

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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