Each year, ArtPrize has been a catalyst for conversation and change and for its fourth competition, and in 2012, you can expect more of the same.

This year, the contest hosts nearly the same number of artists and venues as the 2011 competition, but will operate minus the presence of former Executive Director Catherine Creamer.

“It was a decision she made to leave … from what we heard it wasn’t a good fit and she went elsewhere,” said ArtPrize Public Relations Director Brian Burch. “We have a pretty strong team and we were able to pick up relatively quickly and I know we will have a great event.”
Also new this year is a large increase in awards. Seventeen awards will be given out, among them $360,000 in public votes and $200,000 in juried awards.
Another change occurs in the voting process, which gives visitors more time for initial votes. Round one takes place Sept. 19-29 and offers 11 days for exploration and voting, while round two is Sept. 30-Oct. 4, allowing five days to make top ten votes. This change encompasses two of the competition’s most important factors, according to Burch.
“Looking at the art is the starting point, they need to engage in it,” he said. “Looking at it gets people in conversation. Voting for it is an opportunity to extend that engagement. We’re actually changing it a bit, we are eliminating the down vote. It’s infinitely simpler to just vote up. We’re thrilled about that.”
Exhibition centers also have been shaken up, bringing the total down to seven. They include Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Kendall College of Art & Design, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and St. Cecilia Music Center. In addition, three showcase venues have been named. Site:Lab, Women’s City Club and Cathedral Square are curated venues but do not include a retail store or voter registration.
Another new aspect comes with the ArtPrize website, which has added a simple yet satisfying new idea.
“We are introducing a new website where you can register online and when you register your account you can create a profile of yourself and create a collection,” Burch said. “You can ‘like’ art and add it to your collection. You can create a customized top 10 and share it on Facebook or Twitter. We hope it will get people thinking about art and sharing art.”
After all, isn’t that what the competition is all about?
“We think the engagement with art will help people realize that anyone can put something on display for everyone to enjoy and engage with,” Burch said. “We think that the city overall will grow and the people will grow as we engage with contemporary art. We can look at contemporary art differently and consider new ideas.”
Pictured: Art viewers interact with Michelle Jaffe's ArtPrize entry, "Wappen Field," at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts last year.

ArtPrize Best Bets // by Kelli Kolakowski and Kim Kibby


With 162 venues, where does one begin? Here are a few venues we recommend, based on being professionally curated and having solid collections of entries in the past.

Calvin College, (106) Gallery (106 S. Division Ave.)
Head to Calvin College’s (106) Gallery to see seven distinct entries including stitched paper, graphite on paper, a delicate mixed-media painting that utilizes hundreds of eggshells, antique book pages and other found items and various installations made of ceramic, fiber, ribbon, and colorful foam/rubber.
Grand Rapids Art Museum (101 Monroe Center)
The GRAM offers 21 entries exploring a common theme: transformation. See blown glass, a ceramic “brick wall” installation, sculpture, and origami. Once again, the GRAM hosts 2010 winner Chris LaPorte, with his entry “City Band.” Don’t miss Sky Pape’s “Watermarks,” (water and ink on handmade paper). Pape eschews traditional tools and paints using mist, ice, rain and palm fronds.
SiTE:LAB (54 Jefferson Ave.)
Comprised of 18 entries, SiTE:LAB at 54 Jefferson resurrects the old Public Museum space for ArtPrize 2012. Winner of last year’s juried award for outstanding venue, SiTE:LAB’s new installation of works is curated by Paul Amenta and Tom Clinton. It features several video and multimedia installations, as well as a piece by 2011 international juried award winner Shinji Tuner-Yamamoto. (Pictured, right: David Bowen's "Tele-present Water" at last year's SiTE:LAB venue. Photo: Terry Johnston)
UICA (2 W. Fulton)
Following the theme “Somewhere Else,” 2012 UICA ArtPrize entries will make up an exhibition lasting through Oct. 18. View multiple mixed-media projects and the ceramic installation created by a collaborative of female artists from Bergen National Academy of the Arts that consists of 4,000 clay flowers, along with Kim Schoenstadt and Mara Lonner’s “Crisscross,” an 84-foot wall drawing.


In addition to viewing a hefty amount of art, here are some events to round out your ArtPrize experience.

John Waters, “This Filthy World”
Filmmaker and writer John Waters (Hairspray, Pink Flamingos) will open the ArtPrize 2012 speaker series with his one-man show, “This Filthy World.”
“We couldn’t think of a better person to kick off the conversation about high and low taste, and the antagonistic relationship art can have with its audience,” said Kevin Buist, ArtPrize director of exhibitions.

Sept. 25, 7 p.m., Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. $15 General Admission, $11.50 Students with a valid/current Student ID. Tickets on sale 8/27 via Civic Theatre's website, in person at its box office or by phone at 616-222-6650.

Critical Discourse
An ArtPrize tradition where experts and the public collide. The Top Ten are decided, but what do critics think? Find out as each entry is discussed. A lively debate sandwiched between a social hour, with cash bar.

Sunday, Sept. 30, 6–9 p.m.; ArtPrize Hub, 41 Sheldon Blvd. SE

Speaker Series
When you’re not busy pondering ArtPrize entries, hear the perspectives of these prestigious art professionals:
— John Waters, filmmaker, art collector, icon (Sept. 25, GR Civic Theater)
— Theaster Gates, artist (Sept. 27)
— Jerry Saltz, senior art critic for New York Magazine (Oct. 1)
— Alison Gass, curator of contemporary art at the Eli and Edyth Broad Art Museum at MSU (Oct. 2)
— Elaine Tin Nyo, artist (Oct. 3.)

All speakers except John Waters: 5–6 p.m. happy hour, 6 p.m. speaker; Historic Federal Building, Kendall College of Art and Design