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"That's my boy:" Shouts, tears accompany news of Top 20 Public votes in ArtPrize 7

As finalists were, shouts, sighs of relief and celebration along with audience applause could be heard from all around, including the palpable combination of joy and pain from Eric Burri's father, the subject of "Hometown Hero" at Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.
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Final 20 Public Vote winners in ArtPrize 2015:


"REACH and SPLASH" by Andy Sacksteder- Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

"Balancing Act" by Calvin Babich- Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

"TIME & AGAIN Grand Rapids" by Midge Bolt and Doreen Gunnick- Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

"SENSI" by Gianluca Traina- Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

"The Grand Rapid Tape Drawing" by The Tape Art Crew: Leah Smith and Michael Townsend- TowerPinkster -- Architects | Engineers



"Greatest Generation/Beta Team/November" by Fred Cogelow- Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

"The Race" by Kurt Swanson- DeVos Place Convention Center

"Rolling Down" by Kroeze Krew: Chet Glass, Nathan Kroeze, Nicholas Kroeze and Nicholas V- Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

"Seasons" by Robin Protz- Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

"MAYA 7624" by Seungmo Park- The Fed Galleries at KCAD



"As Above" by Judith Braun- Grand Rapids Art Museum

"Triple Play" by Anni Crouter- Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

"michigan petoskey stone" by Randall Libby- DeVos Place Convention Center

"Northwood Awakening" by Ann and Steven Loveless- Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

"In a Promised Land...." by Shawn Michael Warren- DeVos Place Convention Center



"Movement" by Craig Merchant- Grand Rapids Public Museum

"Whisper" by Emily Kennerk- 250 Monroe

"BREAKTHROUGH" by Breakthrough Team: Laura Bennett, Mark Bird, Randy Flood- DeVos Place Convention Center

"Hometown Hero" by Pamela Alderman- Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

"Symphony of Gestures" by Sara Dittrich and Benjamin Buchanan- Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts

In the middle of a dull, rainy afternoon, the atmosphere at the Rosa Parks Circle for the Top 20 Finalist public vote announcement of ArtPrize Seven was bright and hopeful. As volunteers, sponsors, artist, friends and family gathered for the announcement, cheering in anticipation throughout the event. 

“That’s my boy!” shouted John Burri, when “Hometown Hero,” Pamela Alderman’s Time-Based entry, placed in the top five for Time-Based art. His cry rang out above the applause as he was filled with pride and tears of joy at the announcement.

The piece features Burri’s son, Eric Burri, fallen soldier from Wyoming, Michigan who served in Iraq until 2005 when he was killed by a roadside bomb.

This interactive acrylic painting is added to daily by viewers writing names and dates of their own personal hero on the stars and stripes of the American flag in the painting. The focus of this piece is for each viewer to be able to remember loved ones who represent heroism in their own lives.

“It’s not just about the military, nor is it just about my son. It’s about those people in your life that you look up to and call your hero," John Burri says. "That’s why it’s called Hometown Hero.” Overwhelmed with emotion after the event, John Burri says he'll never forget the numbers of his son's death: Eric Burri was the 53rd West Michigan serviceperson killed while in the line of duty, when his father John Burri was 53 years old.

John Burri remembers a time when his son wrote to him, moved with compassion at the number of children in Iraq that didn't have shoes, and expressing that he wished to give them his own. After their son's death, his parents John and Joanne Burri remembered this and began collecting shoes and sending them to Iraq for the children. Eric Burri's legacy continues through his parents' shoe drives and through Alderman's painting.

After each of the top five were announced in the four categories, shouts, sighs of relief and celebration along with audience applause could be heard from all around. Finalists include six from Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, and four each from both the DeVos Place Convention Center and Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, which are connected to each other.

ArtPrize is the "most attended public art event in the world," says founder and board president Rick DeVos.

Public votes in the first round totaled 377,321 votes, despite early hours on first day the website being down, which brings the total to 24,000 more than last year. 

With the Top Twenty of Public Voting finalized, Round 1 is complete. Round 2 voting is now open until midnight on October 8. Until this time, public voting is open to select the final winners in the categories of Installation, Three-Dimensional, Two-Dimensional and Time-Based.

Winners of each category, chosen from the entry with the most public votes from the top five, will receive a prize of $12,500. The Public Vote Grand Prize winner will receive a $200,000 cash award.

“Every single one of those votes is a decision about what art is,” says Executive Director Christian Gaines, "and why it matters."

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