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What Conclusions Can We Draw From ArtPrize?

This weekend, ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Mich., awarded $560,000 in cash to the artists of 16 installations — the end of a 19-day competitive event in which the public visited artworks spread around the city, and voted on those they liked best. 49,078 people voted, casting  446,850 votes — they chose the 10 public awards, 10 artists who together won $360,000. An eight-person panel of art professionals decided six juried award winners totaling $200,000.

Here are the two winners, tops in each contest:

Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bunga-Ecosystem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s pretty easy to tell which won the public award and which the professionals’ award, isn’t it? The top, a landscape art quilt called Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore by Ann Loveless won the first, and the bottom — one scene from Ecosystem, a site-specific, architectural intervention by Carlos Bunga, pleased the pros.

It happens every year, and ArtPrize has been going since 2009. It’s great, in a way, but it also throws the chasm between the public and the pros into high relief. I wasn’t there, so I can’t comment on these pieces in particular, but it seems to me that there’s work to do on visual literacy — or else the professionals are going to be proven wrong by history.

The public awarded nine other awards — Anni Crouter of Flint, Mich. for Polar Expressed, three separate 48” by 72” polar bear paintings, got $75,000 and Andy Sacksteder, who made  UPLifitng, a bronze sculpture depicting two dancers, will receive $50,000,

And $10,000 each, to:

  • Paul Baliker, Palm Coast, Fl., Dancing with Mother Nature
  • Jason Gamrath, Seattle, Wa., Botanica Exotica a Monumental Collection of the Rare beautiful
  • Benjamin Gazsi, Morgantown, West Va., Earth Giant
  • Robin Protz, New Hartford, Conn., Myth-or-Logic
  • Fraser Smith, St. Pete Beach, Fl., Finding Beauty in Bad Things: Porcelain Vine
  • Michael Gard, SanFrancisco, Ca.,Taking Flight
  • Nick Jakubiak, Battle Creek, Mich., Tired Pandas

Pictures of those entries are here.

The other juried award winners, who each received $20,000, are

  • Kyle Staver, New York, N.Y., Europa and the Flying Fish
  • Cooley / Lewis, Chattanooga, Tenn., Through the Skies for You
  • Shahzia Sikander, New York, N.Y. The Last Post
  • Urban Space J.D. Urban, Brooklyn, N.Y., united.states : an everydaypeople project
  • Greg Bokor, Beverly, Mass., Erase 

Congrats to all.

Photo Credits: Courtesty of ArtPrize

 

 

 

Comments

  1. At Artprize, no matter how worldly or naive the competing art is, the scale is always tilted toward the often simplistic cultural sensibilities of the rural and suburban voting population of southwestern Michigan. Tug at their heartstrings. Give them a quilt of a sunset over Lake Michigan (2013), a pencil drawing of elephants (2012), a stained glass of the Crucifixion (2011), a drawing of stoic cavalrymen (2010), or a painting of roiling water (2009), each presented on a grand scale, and they predictably melt onto your arms.

  2. “It’s great, in a way, but it also throws the chasm between the public and the pros into high relief. I wasn’t there, so I can’t comment on these pieces in particular, but it seems to me that there’s work to do on visual literacy — or else the professionals are going to be proven wrong by history.”

    I vote with the people – the professionals are going to look like the “emperor’s tailors” that so many of them are.

  3. There must be something about the jury winner, Ecosystem, that doesn’t come through in the photograph, because all I see is a 1950s style nature diorama.

    The quilt that won the public award looks lovely. (Whether a given reader interprets ‘lovely” as straightforward praise, damning with faint praise, or condescension could be telling.)

  4. A chasm between the critics and the public is nothing new. I was on art forums in the early 90′s where i found out that most people around the country and the world for that matter liked representational art which the critics did not write about, yet. Regionalism has always existed and LA, New York, Santa Fe or any other region have their own style that they respond to.

    It is always interesting what the critics have to say but i often do not agree. In fact if i got to the Rotten Tomatoes site to decide whether i want to see a movie i check the public opinion first and only then the critics. If there were no chasm why would we need the critics? They judge on a formal set of values often taught to them by academics who have their own slant. There is nothing wrong with the attitude, “I know what i like”

  5. kitsch on steroids

  6. Jeanne Meyers says:

    As an on the ground observer of Art Prize, I was thrilled to see the streets streaming with lookers, question askers, and the curious.

    Art Prize is an outstanding example of art creating community. People came out in the thousands and they talked to each other, spurred each other on, and related to the art .

    How do we get more people to care about art? Programs like this that envelop the community.

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