ArtPrize: Do you trust the public to judge art?

September 22, 2009
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Call it the American Idol-ing of art. Starting Sept. 23, what's being billed as the world's largest art prize competition begins in Grand Rapids...with you as judge.

According to www.artprize.org, the ArtPrize competition is "open to any artist in the world who can find space. Open to anybody in Grand Rapids, Michigan who wants to create a venue. Open to a vote from anyone who attends."

The first place winner scores $250,000. Second gets $100,000. Third gets $50,000 and the rest in the top ten each get $7,000.

Here's how the voting works: During the first week, registered visitors 16 or older vote up or down on each work. Ten pieces move on to the second round. In the second week, each voter has a single vote. All voting is electronic.

So far, more than 1200 artists -- including Zionsville's Nancy Noel -- have found space in Grand Rapids to hang their work.

I'll admit that I'm skeptical about art-as-popularity contest. The winner, I'm certain, will largely depend as much on Facebook/Twitter skills as on artistic skills and vision.

But the creators of the event seem to know that, too. Quoth the site: "We do not believe that we have contrived the 'best' way to discover the 'best' art. The prize money, the public vote, the open venue system simply creates an environment where public can engage artist and artist can engage public in a fresh way."

Taking aside the notion of "best," the idea of a town being covered in artwork is a thrilling one. And whether or not I make it to Grand Rapids in the next few weeks (unlikely, since the program ends Oct. 10), I'm very interested in seeing how this all plays out.

So do you find merit in what's happening in Grand Rapids?

Could such an event have happened here?

Would this make you consider a road trip to Michigan?

Your thoughts?

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  • Art is subjective. In terms of rating art, I think the "best" art is that which appeals to the most viewers.

    Simply look at history as the best examples of this: paintings, statues, frescos, buildings. The ones which are still around, still seen, cared for, are the most appealing to the masses.
  • I am so sick of this American Idol, America's got talent type stuff. What a waste of time and money.
  • Art is more of a reaction than good or bad. You can hate the art but reconize the talent. I am not a big fan of Jackson Pollock but his art of spattering paint is considered good. Even Robert Indiana's street signs are thought of as great art. I worked in a musuem that had an artist make a shelf and then put items from the museum's collection on it and that was called "art". If you get some sort of reaction, good or bad, then it is art.

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  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

  3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

  5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.

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