ArtPrize, the largest art competition in the world, Ends at 6:00 pm on Sunday, October 7th in Grand Rapids, MI.
On September 23rd, 2009, there was a table and chairs on the bridge and an enormous Lochness Monster likeness chilling in the river. Grand Rapids was stunned. Everywhere you walked, there were artistic additions to the landscape. Everywhere you drove, there were pedestrians flooding the crosswalks. Everywhere you ate, there were busy restaurants, some even running out of food. This was the inaugural year of ArtPrize, an epic event that some may argue has irrevocably stamped Grand Rapids on the mitten map.
Not even the city was ready for the overwhelmingly positive response! Yes, it was art, but without the confines of a museum or picture frame. Grand Rapids was transformed into a creative mecca for anyone with a desire to be recognized. In the era of voter driven shows, where the public decides instead of the “more qualified” critics, Grand Rapids remained abreast of the trend and made the ArtPrize voting forum for the people, by the people. Today, as we celebrate the fourth successful year of ArtPrize hosted by Grand Rapids, the city has hosted over a million visitors, hundreds of thousands of voters, and this year alone, over 1500 artist’s entries.
This year, as supporters eagerly await the second round of votes for the winners, we are presented with a top ten that makes me want to split the $560,000 in prize money evenly between the ten artists. After $200,000 is awarded to first place, the public voters bestow another $160,000 on 2nd-10th places. Additionally, ArtPrize 2012 has added $200,000 in Juried Awards; a panel of expert voices in contemporary art that are charged with awarding one $100,000 winner and five $20,000 winners. This addition of Juried Awards has lent an even more impressive credibility to ArtPrize artists that allows for internationally renowned post-competition. If the choice of the public and the jurors overlap, the winning artist will take home an unprecedented $320,000. If that happens, I would argue that the winner can no longer feasibly claim to be a “starving artist”.
The public’s elected top ten consists of a variety of mediums. This year there are two enormous pencil sketches, one by 2010 competition winner Chris LaPorte called “City Band” and another by competition newcomer, Adonna Khare titled “Elephants“. Artist Richard Morse contributed “Stick-to-it-ive-ness“, more commonly known as “the cool horses in the river”. More newcomers include glass mosaic artist Sandra Bryant with “Return to Eden“, Kumi Yamashita with “Origami“, and taxidermist Dennis Harris with “The Chase“. Dan Heffron brought us “Life in Wood“, oil painter Frits Hoendervanger created “Rebirth of Spring“, and visionaries Mark Carpenter and Dan Johnson made the elite ten with their unprecedented event and over 15,000 lanterns, “Lights in the Night“. Last but not least is new ArtPrize contributor Martijn van Wagtendonk with “Song of Lift“, an engineering, visual and musical masterpiece.
Although the second round of voting is only open until October 4th, the venues are available for perusal until 6pm on October 7th! Some of the larger “must-see” venues include the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the B.O.B., UICA, Kendall College, The Amway Grand Plaza, the DeVos Center and an assortment of unexpected venues you can’t help but enjoy on your way. Almost all are located within three square miles so lace up your tennis shoes and make it happen! If circumstances don’t allow, ArtPrize 2013 has already been scheduled for September 18th-October 6th. If you’re an artist, start now. If you’re an enjoyer of all things creative, pencil it in. Can’t wait to see you there, and best of luck to 2012’s top ten!
Lyndsay Israel-Feature Writer
For more photos from ArtPrize, check out our Flickr!