Best named one of Art Prize’s 20 finalists

October 5, 2018

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

An announcement Sunday that named Jeff Best’s entry “Abiding in the Shadow” one of the top 20 at Grand Rapids ArtPrize 10 brought tears to his eyes, he said in a Grand Rapids interview.

It was the second time the wire sculptor from Clare has been honored as one of the top artists in the annual event. In an interview this week Best told WOOD

Jeff Best

Jeff Best

TV8, “You worked so hard to get there, and when it happens you go, ‘Wow’!” He said he wasn’t expecting it.

A display of his work which was featured at the international art show in Grand Rapids last year, and titled “The Salvere Hitch” (Latin for “to be saved”) was composed of two horses trotting under harness with a foal following behind. His sculpture was placed in the top twenty out of 1,350 artists competing at the 3D competition and second out of 350.

Artist Jeff Best, of Clare is well known in the Clare area. His beautiful and creative works of art have been displayed and enjoyed right in downtown Clare as well as all around the area.

His work was featured in last summer’s Horse Progress Days. Jeff lives just down the road from the Alvin Yoder farm, the site of this year’s Horse Progress Days and many neighbors and travelers have seen the life sized horse sculptures displayed at his home, all made with rusty barbed wire.

Jeff and his wife have long worked in agriculture, he as a sales representative for Purina Mills and she as a farm financial lender and appraiser.

In 2003 he started a company manufacturing small culti-packers which he promotes for seeding plants for wildlife. Around 2012 he became a full-time artist, creating his masterpiece barbed wire sculptures of horses, deer and elk and recreations of other wildlife.

Shown here Jeff Best’s huge wire display of a white-tail deer surrounded by wolves, his entry in ArtPrize 10 in Grand Rapids. He was named to the top 20 last Sunday. Photo from a Facebook post by Kathleen LaPoe

Shown here Jeff Best’s huge wire display of a white-tail deer surrounded by wolves, his entry in ArtPrize 10 in Grand Rapids. He was named to the top 20 last Sunday.
Photo from a Facebook post by Kathleen LaPoe

The animals are all depicted in Best’s medium – rusty barbed wire so lifelike that it nearly comes to life when you see it.

His entry in ArtPrize 10 this year, Abiding in the Shadow, depicts several wolves surrounding a white-tail deer.

Best explained that the wolves surrounding the deer represent the “fowler,” which hunts the weak and innocent – the deer. The exhibit is 24 feet high and 35 feet wide. “He (the deer) has the ability to stand and endure and get away,” Best said in the interview.

He said the lesson depicted “extends beyond the landscape he created,” citing the things we endure in life, including his own family’s experiences fighting cancer. He said, “That’s life, and we endure those things and push forward.”

Many seeing the exhibit have told him the display represents the 91st Psalm, although Best said he didn’t put that on his statement about the entry.

The winners of ArtPrize 10 will be announced today at 7:30 p.m. ArtPrize 10 continues through October 7th.

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