With over 1,500 pieces, ArtPrize 2011 lured me in for another look. This time I took my husband who is quite evolved for a Michigan outdoorsman, although not appreciative of the more abstract art forms, the pieces that you cannot exactly say what it is because it is something different to each viewer. So I plied him with a tasty lunch and a microbrew before we looked and then topped off our outing with one for the road at an Irish pub in Downtown Grand Rapids. Included in this post are a few more photos of some of the pieces we admired.
Now that the top ten have been chosen by voters throughout the community the art critics are complaining about some of the “amateurish” pieces and the entire voting process. How could common folk who have not been formally trained possibly know which are the best pieces? ArtPrize is advertised as a social experiment designed to promote connections between artists and the community (common folk) and inspire creative conversations. What I observed was families with children and classes of schoolchildren viewing the art downtown. Many of the people dressed in jeans and t-shirts and the price to get in to view the art was zilch. ArtPrize made art accessible, which is what most deserves an award. Kudos to Rick DeVos, the founder of ArtPrize, for his response to the critics’ assertion that ArtPrize lacks credibility in the art community, “I just want to see crazy crap all over Grand Rapids, and I think we’ve achieved that,” DeVos said. “The goal is not to find better art through voting. It’s not better art through democracy. The prize and the voting are really just mechanisms. It comes back to building a creative culture in West Michigan.”