Hi I’m Jes Thayer and I’m an audio and visual artist based in Boston. I flew out to Michigan because Art Prize is an exciting large event with so many concentrated artists in one location, and Grand Rapids is a place and culture I knew nothing about. Grand Rapids is a friendly, welcoming city where I met some genuine friends in just the 11 days I was here. I saw Blake McFarland’s work my first day here - a towering sculpture of a man made entirely out of recycled tires rising out of a mound of refuse.

Blake is a retired baseball player for the Blue Jays who’s turned into a full hustle artist for Goodyear, Lululemon, and arenas across the US. I was intrigued by his ability to adapt with the world. And I knew I had to sit and chat with him. Blake has empathy for recycling materials and changing something into a more purposeful creation. He has a surprisingly relaxed attitude to adversity, and a willingness to start something new.

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Every season, Blake never knew whether he’d be cut, injured, or just not make the team for reasons outside his control, but regardless he showed up for practice, and now to his studio. Just like he showed up for ArtPrize.