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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