GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (OCTOBER 7, 2016) – ArtPrize, the radically open international art competition decided equally by public vote and expert jury, tonight held the Eighth Annual ArtPrize Awards ceremony, powered by the DTE Energy Foundation -- revealing the winners of $500,000 in prizes live on NBC affiliate, WOOD TV8. The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre was filled with event supporters, partners and collaborators to honor the artists who shared their work with hundreds of thousands of visitors during ArtPrize Eight. Two $200,000 Grand Prizes were awarded -- through smartphone-enabled public vote to Wounded Warrior Dogs by James Mellick, and by a jury of art experts to The Bureau of Personal Belonging by Stacey Kirby.
Held annually in Grand Rapids, Michigan -- the 123rd largest city in the United States -- ArtPrize has topped The Art Newspaper’s Big Ticket List as the most attended public art event in the world for two consecutive years. Average daily attendance at the 19-day event is on par with the Louvre in Paris and surpasses that of the British Museum in London and the Met in New York.
While 2016 became the rainiest ArtPrize exhibition in the event’s history, visitors still turned out by the hundreds of thousands and registered to vote in record numbers. Since September 21, 37,433 visitors registered to vote casting 380,119 votes across two rounds, with more votes cast via the ArtPrize mobile app than ever before. On the first Saturday of the event more than 42 thousand votes were cast by smartphone -- the highest single day count in the history of ArtPrize.
The entry that ultimately captured visitors’ imaginations in the public vote was Wounded Warrior Dogs -- a masterfully crafted series of wood carvings by James Mellick, showing at Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.
The ArtPrize Eight Grand Prize Jurors -- Michelle Grabner, artist and professor at School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Paul Ha, Director at the MIT List Visual Arts Center; and Eric Shiner, Senior Vice President at Sotheby’s -- spent a whirlwind two days in Grand Rapids viewing each entry on the Category Award Jurors’ shortlists: five entries from each category revealed on September 26 at the Jurors’ Shortlist Event. They selected the interactive performance and installation titled The Bureau of Personal Belonging by Stacey Kirby. Kirby will take home the $200,000 Juried Grand Prize, presented by Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University.
“Together, the ArtPrize public vote and juried award winners ultimately reflect issues that both unite and divide us. Whatever your views on war, patriotism, identity or belonging, both works drew you into an immersive and profound experience,” noted Christian Gaines, ArtPrize Executive Director.
Paul Ha explained the jury’s decision: “Stacey’s piece was so thoughtful and so ambitious that it stood out. The production was so high. And you walked in and you weren’t quite sure if you were in an acting studio or part of a piece. Then after you engage with the artist and the actors, you realize they are letting you know there are some points out there that we should be aware of.”
The Bureau of Personal Belonging is an installation comprised of three ongoing works where visitors offer written and verbal responses as they interact with the artist and other performers within a meticulously recreated 60’s era bureaucratic office space. Visitors are taken through a process to determine if they are indeed valid members of our community. The work points to the often absurd way bureaucracies define identity -- particularly sexual and gender identity -- and encourages viewers to contact Michigan lawmakers regarding certain pieces of legislation.
Artist Stacey Kirby took home a $5,000 grant awarded at the first ArtPrize Pitch Night event of 2016, held earlier this year at 21c Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina, for The Bureau. A panel of art experts chose this project over the work of four other artists -- each given five minutes and five slides to sell their idea of an ambitious installation for ArtPrize Eight in Grand Rapids.
The public vote, presented by Meijer, also decided which four entries from among the Public Vote Final 20 would win the $12,500 category awards. These 20 finalists came from 15 different venues across the ArtPrize district, with no more than two finalists represented by one venue -- reflecting a modification to the rules added earlier this year. The results of both rounds of the public vote were verified by KPMG, the Official Auditor of the Public Vote.
The Public Vote and Juried Category Awards are listed below:
- Public Vote: Portraits of Light and Shadow, at DeVos Place Convention Center, by Joao Paulo Goncalves from Pompano Beach, FL. The Two-Dimensional Public Vote Award is presented by Foremost Insurance.
- Juried: les bêtes, at the Grand Rapids City Water Building, by Isaac Aoki from Grand Rapids, MI.
- Public Vote: Wounded Warrior Dogs, at Amway Grand Plaza, by James Mellick from Milford Center, OH.
- Juried: Excavations, at SiTE:LAB / Rumsey St. Project, by William Lamson from New York, NY. The Three-Dimensional Juried Award is presented by Haworth.
- Public Vote: Sweeper's Clock, at Grand Rapids Art Museum, by Maarten Baas from Den Bosch, North Brabant, Netherlands. The Time-Based Public Vote Award is presented by the DTE Energy Foundation.
- Juried: Search Engine Vision “ISIS”, at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, by Eric Souther from Mishawaka, IN.
- Public Vote: The Butterfly Effect, at DeVos Place Convention Center, by Pettit Smith from Durango, CO. The Installation Public Award is presented by Amway.
- Juried: This Space is Not Abandoned, at 912 Grandville Ave, by 912 CollABORATIVE from Grand Rapids, MI.
Outstanding Venue Juried Award
This award will be split between EVERYTHING IS TRANSFORMED, SiTE:LAB / Rumsey St. Project and This Space is Not Abandoned, 912 Grandville Avenue.
This is the first time that a juror has chosen to split the Outstanding Venue award between two ArtPrize Venues. The curator of 912 Grandville Avenue, Steffanie Rosalez, is participating in the 2016 ArtPrize Fellowship for Emerging Curators program -- working under the guidance of Paul Amenta, co-founder and curator of SiTE:LAB. Together they have brought two outstanding exhibitions to the Rumsey Street neighborhood.
ArtPrize Eight venues will remain open through Sunday, October 9 at 6 p.m. EST. For a complete, ranked list of the Public Vote category finalists, please visit artprize.org/lists or the ArtPrize mobile app.