Keep up on the latest and greatest Grand Rapids happenings here. Check back often – this city is on the move! more
Outdoor Summer Concert Series at Meijer Gardens Grand Rapids is passionate about the arts, and nowhere is t...more
Need some in-person inspiration for your Grand Rapids story?... more
Eyes on the Prize 2010: Reflecting Post-Prize
After the top three winners of ArtPrize 2010 were announced, a quote from former President Bill Clinton came to mind: "The people have spoken, but it's going to take a little while to determine exactly what they said."
It was no surprise when Chris Laporte's soldier portrait Cavalry, American Officers, 1921 received the top award. LaPorte's technical skill and grandness of scale are comparable to Ran Ortner's winning ocean painting of last year, and the drawing was an obvious crowd-pleaser from the start. Mia Tavonatti's second-place mosaic portrait of a figure in water, titled Svelata, appears to be part of the same family, and also bears similarity to the winning mosaic and pushpin portraits of last year. Cavalry and Svelata together suggest a leaning towards a certain kind of work. As someone aptly stated at Critical Discourse, "The three fundamental aspects of the winning entries are scale, realism, and pixelation." Beili Liu's abstract and contemplative installation Lure/Wave, Grand Rapids (Lure/Forest) bucks the trend. As I said in my second post, works such as hers make me optimistic about the future of ArtPrize and the ability of the masses to look deeper, to evolve with the event year after year. At this point, no single conclusion can be drawn from this trio of pencil marks, tiles and thread spools and maybe that's a good thing. Artprize might be out of its experimental phase, but it is still an early work in progress.
The idea of expert juried awards was not something I supported until it was all said and done. Bringing authority voices into the mix suggested to me that the crowd couldn't be trusted to judge art on their own. I was also concerned that the competition would take on the tone of "us against them." But the juried awards managed to acknowledge a handful of good entries without overshadowing the public vote. I don't know about you, but I breathed a sigh of relief when Mark Wentzel's XLounge Series won the award for best three-dimensional work. This humorously critical take on American leisure and food culture merited recognition for ingenuity and intellect, which many popular works fail to impart. Yet the award for sustainability, which went to Paul Baliker's A Matter of Time, served to support the popular vote. Bewildered faces and slow applause at the site of the two-dimensional award winner, Andrew Doak's Garden Party, Chez Hatfield, confirmed that there are small gems, photographs especially, outside of the Exhibition Centers that people aren't seeing. Perhaps, hopefully, this will encourage voters to dig deeper next year or prompt a change to the event that gives fringe venues more exposure. On that note, the award category for best time-based work is absolutely necessary. With so much to see at ArtPrize, videos and films that require a time commitment hardly stand a chance otherwise.
In my first post, I expressed interest in seeing if the mood around ArtPrize would change after the top ten were announced, whether viewers would slow down and carefully consider their votes. Honestly, I never got a sense of it. People crowded around artworks and lined up to see them, but that could just mean following the crowd and doesn't amount to critical thinking. If one thing is for sure, people were excited about seeing art and I can't say enough how hard that is to accomplish. Nearly every guest speaker I interviewed recognized this about ArtPrize. None of them were interested in whether entries were good or bad, but were in sincere awe of its immediate social, cultural and economic impact. No one knows for sure what its future may hold, but we all agreed that the potential of ArtPrize looks very promising.