By Kayla Tucker – Arts & Entertainment/Features Editor
With 1,536 entries showcased in and around 174 venues within 3-square miles and a 19-day festival, there is sure to be a lot to talk about for ArtPrize 2014, which begins today.
“Grand Rapids really takes the world stage,” said Todd Herring, ArtPrize Director of Marketing and Communications. “We have media coming from all over the world this year. It’s a really wonderful accomplishment.”
Artist Kevin Sudeith was one of the first artists to plant his roots in Grand Rapids for this year’s competition. His installation titled “Grand River Fish Petroglyph” is located on the Riverwalk in front of the Grand Rapids Public Museum.
“The key function of art is for the viewer to identify with it,” Sudeith said. “The goal for the piece is that it lives on forever.”
Artists from 51 countries and 42 U.S. states or territories will be participating in this year’s competition, with many traveling hundreds of miles to get to Grand Rapids.
The GRCC Collins Art Gallery, located on the fourth floor of the Main Building has been an ArtPrize venue since the second year of the competition. Open for about thirteen years, the gallery is an exhibition for local, national, and occasionally international art. The gallery features student and faculty artwork during special exhibitions. Filippo Tagliati, the gallery coordinator, describes the student exhibitions as “a window for our students.” This year, the gallery will be showcasing seven ArtPrize entries, one of them being a photography piece by GRCC student Kelsie LeMonnier entitled “Barophobia.”
“A gallery is an experience to see something in person that you don’t have just looking through the monitor,” Tagliati said.
The biggest change to ArtPrize this year revolves around the award structure. Public vote and juried vote will run parallel in deciding the top winners in four different medium-based categories: 2D, 3D, Time Based, and Installation.
The first place winners in each of these categories will receive $20,000. The overall first place winner selected by the public and the jury both receiving $200,000.
Another $20,000 will be awarded by the jury to a venue showing “outstanding curation”.
The jury is comprised of eight individuals who are experts in the field of art. The focus this year is to critique ArtPrize by comparing public opinion and the juried opinion in artistic discussions.
“It’s the main narrative of the event,” Herring said. “The way that the public is forming their opinion around what art is the best and [then] comparing and contrasting that to what the critics (or jury) view as the best.”
The next innovation to ArtPrize 2014 is more accessible voting. There are 10 voting sites around downtown, voting through text messaging, the ArtPrize app, and the website, artprize.org. Voting registration is easy as well, all that’s needed is to have an ArtPrize account, using an email address or Facebook account, and voters provide either a phone number (online) or a photo ID (voting sites).
There will be two rounds of voting, with the first round beginning today. The first round will last until Oct. 4, and then the top 20 will be announced Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. The second round will begin with voting limited to the Top 20 only.
The winners will be announced on Oct. 10 at the ArtPrize Awards.
Although it’s not new this year, the ArtPrize HUB will be in a bigger and better light. It’s at a new centralized location this year, 41 Sheldon Blvd SE. There will be merchandise for sale, voter registration, an ArtPrize concierge desk, and the HUB will serve as the home base for Critical Discourse: artistic discussions and debate. Just outside the HUB is the installed Pop-Up Park, a temporary block of nature right in the middle of the city. Visitors can enjoy relaxing in the grass, and on the weekends, a Story Time Event for children.
ArtPrize provides attendees with an opportunity to enjoy art downtown for free. The opportunity to form opinions, hear inspirations, learn different crafts, and see a variety of cultures is what makes ArtPrize so unique.
ArtPrize directors are hoping to bring together the community of Grand Rapids and expose viewers to controversial and interesting contemporary art.
“I hope (the ArtPrize audience has) a culture of willingness to yield to contemporary art,” Herring said. “There is a difference between having an affinity for beautiful objects around you…[and] having a desire to have an experience with contemporary art.”