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'I'm grateful' | Artist finds out he's among the ArtPrize top 25

Christian Reichle and his mom, Monica Pritchard, made "Before You Go." It's featured on the Blue Bridge in Grand Rapids, where he found out some good news Wednesday.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — The sun sets on another busy day at ArtPrize. But on the city's iconic Blue Bridge, the party is just starting as the sun goes down. A DJ is playing Daft Punk's "Around The World." And inside a phone booth people can hear voices from around the world.

The phone booth is a work of art created by Christian Reichle and his mother, Monica Pritchard. It's called "Before You Go." Christian was wiping down the inside of the booth when I approached him.

I asked him if he'd be willing to be interviewed about being among the final 25 pieces in the running for a $50,000 prize. You could tell from his facial expression he had not yet heard the news. I showed him ArtPrize's Facebook post on my phone and a smile came over his face.

We are headed into the final stretch of ArtPrize 2021! Before the awards are announced on Friday, we wanted to share a...

Posted by ArtPrize on Wednesday, September 29, 2021

"I've got to text some family members and let them know their hard work paid off," he said.

"It's very exciting. Very exciting. We've been out here working hard and connecting with as many people as we can. My own family's been out working very hard voting and participating in that way. And so, I'm grateful. I'm grateful. It's been a beautiful 18 days and a lot of fun. A win would be very exciting," he said.

"Before You Go" is an interactive exhibit. Participants step into the phone booth where they can hear 350 experts from 100 different interviews that are programmed inside the phone.

"Every time you pick up, you should hear a different one. And if you can't get to the Blue Bridge, we have a phone line as well that you can call. 1-888-665-2036. You won't hear all the clips, but a selection from from each channel," Christian said.

The phone booth started as Christian's mom's idea.

"She wanted to tell the stories of some of her older friends, and we also had some deaths in our family that prompted us to have to want to have more conversations and want to encourage other people to have more conversations with their loved ones, you know, before it's too late."

Some visitors are just amazed to see a phone booth on the Blue Bridge, and Christian says it's been a good opportunity for parents to bond with their kids who previously may have not known what a phone booth was.

But on a deeper level, Christian says many people have been touched by the piece.

"They've shared stories with us. I've heard them sharing stories amongst themselves, and hopefully it gets people talking, which is our goal."

You can see the entire top 25 on ArtPrize's website. The winner will be announced Friday.

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