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On the old loading dock of the Grand Rapids Press, transformed for the occasion, winners for this year’s ArtPrize competition were awarded well over half of a million dollars in various public and juried awards. The event culminated in the announcement of the winner of the $200,000 public vote.
This year's big public-vote winner was Adonna Khare, for her piece at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, “Elephants.”
“I would like to say two words,” she said quietly, after Rick DeVos invited her to speak. “Thank you..." Khare paused to consider other words to say to the crowd cheering for her, but only managed to reaffirm her gratitude with a "yeah.” She turned to leave the stage to find her tiny daughter toddling up to her to give her a hug.
“[There are] no words to describe it,” Khare said later. “I’m grateful, honored, and excited. Being able to meet thousands of people, and share stories with one another is an experience like no other.”
Second place this year, and $75,000, was awarded to “Song of Lift” by Martijn van Wagtendonk, located at the UICA.
Third place and $50,000 was awarded to “Rebirth of Spring” by Frits Hoendervanger, located at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.
Along with the public vote, this year the juried awards were extended significantly, with the notable addition of a juried grand prize worth $100,000 that was selected by a panel of three arts professionals. "Displacement" by Design 99 at SiTE:LAB was announced by Jerry Saltz, New York-based art critic.
Cathy Edwards, International Festival of Arts and Ideas’ Director of Performance Programs awarded the Time and Performance award to “Three Phrases” by Detroit-based art collective Complex Movements.
“You really feel immersed in a kind of transformative environment,” Edwards explains. “The piece is about change. It’s about networking. It’s about small-scale interventions that build to larger understandings about possibilities.”
Metropolis Magazine’s Editor in Chief Susan Szenasy awarded Use of Urban Space to “Flight!” by Dale Rogers, which currently resides in Ah Nab Awen Park.
“In this case the art is almost subservient,” Szenasy explains about the category. “It’s a collaborator between the space and the art. I’m not judging the art like the art critic would, but I’m judging the art as a space maker.”
Lisa Freiman, the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Contemporary Department’s Chair, awarded the 3-D juror category to Chicago-based art collective ABCD 83’s piece “More or Less” at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA).
“What they’re doing in the installation that I loved is that they’re accumulating all this material that we would normally throw out and they’ve elevated it into an installation that essentially creates an urban landscape,” she says. “Altogether for me it was powerful and unique and it stood out as really the most ambitious and unexpected piece out of all of ArtPrize.”
“After receiving such an overwhelmingly great response from the general public, getting this jury award feels like an awesome reaffirmation that our work is succeeding on multiple levels,” says ABCD 83’s Chris Silva. “And after all the time and money this project required, it’s fantastic to be able to pay for a few month’s rent and have more breathing room to figure out how to keep this creative experimentation going.”
Tyler Green, columnist for Modern Painters Magazine, determined the winner of the 2-D category and awarded it to Alois Kronschlaeger for his “Habitat” at SiTE:LAB. What intrigued Green about this piece was Kronschlaeger’s decision to toy with the forms a 2-D material can take.
“He has modified the shape of the canvas [sic] by pushing it out,” Green explains. “It asks questions about what if life had emerged in different ways?” Many of the 2-D components in Kronschlaeger’s piece are made from window screen.
The final juror category, first added to ArtPrize in 2011, is the Outstanding Venue category. Tom Eccles, Bard College’s Director of Curatorial Studies awarded the prize to SiTE:LAB at 54 Jefferson for their use of the Old Public Museum Building.
“[They] repurposed and remade the Old Public Museum,” Eccles says. “They haven’t actually erased the history of the place or erased how it was used. They had a sort of pedagogical underpinning. It not only had ambition, but it realized that ambition.”
An additional award, the Oxbow Residency award, was presented to Ann Morton, whose piece “Collective Cover Project” is located at the UICA.
The ceremony was punctuated by the Grand Rapids Ballet Company presenting a David Parsons ballet in segments, as dancers passed the envelope containing the winner of the public vote back and forth.
Other speakers at the event included Rick DeVos, founder of ArtPrize, and David Rosen, President of Ferris State University’s Kendall College.
Rick DeVos talked about the strengths he sees in the Grand Rapids community, and the way the public has responded to the event..
“Whatever opinions emerge in tonight’s results, it doesn’t change how we come together each year,” DeVos said. “[ArtPrize is] part of our culture now.”
David Rosen discussed the origins of art itself, and what is required for ArtPrize to keep happening.
“ArtPrize lets us know that we have a future that is unequalled anywhere,” Rosen says. “As we celebrate art in all its forms let us not forget a key quality that art requires: courage. It is courage that comes only when one has a challenging idea and the confidence to communicate it powerfully. ArtPrize celebrates the courage, capacity and accomplishments of those who create.”
ArtPrize continues through Sunday, October 7 and the pieces will remain intact and on display until then for the public to have one last chance to view the works.
Although I originally hail from Northern California's Bay Area, I moved to Grand Rapids in November of last year and have happily installed myself in my new post-grad, East Town life. I work part-time at a local bookstore, and when I'm not in the store peddling their wares I'm usually at home reading them. The Rapidian is my first writing gig, but I've been thoroughly enjoying it and learning a lot, so I hope I can keep throwing things out there to be published, and who knows: maybe I can keep doing this when I grow up. In the meantime I shall continue on in this vein, watching re-runs of Frasier and The West Wing between my article-writing and reading endeavors.