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ArtPrize Artist Profile: Steven Bezinque


Impact /Rachel Durham

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Dr. Bezinque at Water Street Glassworks

Dr. Bezinque at Water Street Glassworks /Rachel Durham


Grand Rapids Radiologist Dr. Steve Bezinque is making an impact on the second annual ArtPrize. The very spirit of ArtPrize is embodied in his piece that encourages the public to not only experience his creation but to become a part of it. His blown glass 3-D work is featured outside the Grand Rapids Public Museum and is aptly titled Impact.
“I didn’t know how much fun it was to create until I started creating,” Dr. Bezinque explains with wide-eyed excitement as we walk away from the intense heat of the kilns. He began creating seven years ago after visiting a Chihuly exhibit here in Grand Rapids—“I’m going to do this,” he decided. He took a class at Water Street Glassworks in Benton Harbor, Michigan and never looked back, taking classes wherever he could. He drove to Chicago and Kalamazoo for private classes, and even attended a conference in Seattle, WA on emergency radiology in order to attend a glassblowing workshop there.
Dr. Bezinque enjoys the rhythm of glassblowing. “It should be called glass-warming,” he jokes holding his half-formed vase in the kiln yet another time. For every bit of creating he does, he spends nearly twice as much time keeping the glass hot. He adds glass as he works from a two hundred pound vat of molten glass in an oven called the “glory hole”. In about half an hour of shaping, blowing, reheating, adding, paddling, and creating, a completed work of art is formed in front of one’s eyes. The creation is immediate and tangible. The hard part—apparently more difficult than holding the piece at the correct angle, or keeping the glass at the perfect heat, or judging the thickness and evenness of the work—is forming the idea that inspires the piece. 
His teacher, Jerry, at Water Street Glassworks pushed Dr. Bezinque to create something more than a piece of glass. He taught him that real art was about ideas. Dr. Bezinque gets most of his ideas during his runs—he is a triathlete. He doesn’t listen to music or bring his phone on runs; he zones out and listens to his ideas. After attending ArtPrize last year, ideas began formulating around his future submission.
When Dr. Bezinque thought of the concept of impact, the image he had was of an asteroid hitting the earth. As his idea evolved, the image became a water droplet at the moment of impact. To create this image, he formed several glass tubes and arranged them on a steel plate covered in pumice stone. Dr. Bezinque views the finished piece as “a blank canvas or an empty frame.” What will complete the piece? The visitors to ArtPrize and the things that have impacted their lives.
Impact is designed to get you creating for yourself. After all, ArtPrize is all about including everybody regardless of artistic ability. The idea is to set something in the center of the piece that represents the person, place, thing, or experience that has had the greatest impact on your life. Once you have placed your object, be sure to take a picture and post it to Facebook at Impact 2010 along with an explanation of how your life was impacted. The next visitor takes your token and replaces it with one of their own and so on. As you place your image in the center notice your distorted reflection in the surrounding glass. “When you have an impact, it changes the way you view yourself,” Dr. Bezinque explains excitedly. His hope is that people will impact each other by sharing their experiences and be impacted by the experience of creating something and being involved in ArtPrize.
Steve Bezinque is a pediatric radiologist, a family man, a triathlete, an artist, and he even brews his own beer. One must ask: What will Dr. Bezinque place in the center of Impact? “A photograph of my older brother, Michael, when he was a baby,” he answers, still excited, but far more serious. “He was born with spina bifida.” At the time, not much was known about the disease and his brother was greatly handicapped due to complications. The influence Michael had on his brother’s life was immense and represents a huge part of who he is today. The impact changed his life in obvious and subtle ways. He spent time working in camps for mentally challenged children when he was in high school and at group homes for impaired adults. Michael even influenced Dr. Bezinque’s choice of charity, Very Special Arts (VSA) to which he donates all of his profits from his artwork. “Eliminate money from the equation,” he smiles. That’s how he keeps his artwork about the ideas.
So now it is time for you to form an idea, come to ArtPrize, and become part of the art by bringing a representation of the thing that has had the greatest impact on your life and sharing that with others in the community. Bring your object to the Grand Rapids Public Museum during ArtPrize 2010—September 22nd through October 10th, and, when Impact makes an impression on you, be sure to vote it up (46701)!     

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