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Friday, October 2, 2009

ArtPrize- Have YOU Heard About It?

ArtPrize - Sep. 23 - Oct. 8, 2009 - Grand Rapids, MI

Eyes on the Prize: The Future of ArtPrize
October 2nd, 2009

Nicole Caruth is a freelance writer and curator living in New York and frequent contributor to the Art21 blog. She’ll walk around ArtPrize, observe, listen and write about her experience here. Nicole’s thoughts and opinions are her own and in no way represent an endorsement or objection from ArtPrize toward an individual artist or venue.

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Sept. 23, 2009. Photo: N. Caruth

There’s still so much to write about ArtPrize, but the time has come for me to say goodbye. By the time you read this I’ll probably be passing through Detroit on my way back New York. I leave you with some general thoughts, hopes, ideas, and suggestions for the future (at times knowingly contradicting myself):

Don’t try to define art. Something or someone will always get left out that shouldn’t be.

Don’t complain about there being too much art to see. There’s too much of everything right now — ArtPrize reflects our larger culture. Too much art is a good problem to have.

Don’t let the conversation stop with ArtPrize. Keep it going year round. The discourse is larger than any one event. More talk will (hopefully) lead to more informed votes next year.

For sure, there is a direct relationship between location and votes. I don’t know if that’s something that can (or should be) solved by ArtPrize.

Artists: Now you know what you’re up against, so do what you do best and be more creative. Turn it up a notch (without compromising your craft or message), collaborate with other artists, and win this thing next year. As one artist commented this week, “If you can’t beat them join them.” Start planning for 2010 now.

Winning is not everything. I applaud artists who recognized from the beginning that ArtPrize is about more than the popular vote and prize money.

I’ve followed the top 25, 50, … lists since day one, and some days I’ve appreciated having them as a gauge. But they are indeed distracting. I hope ArtPrize will hold these numbers back next year until voting ends. I am certain the conversation around the event will sound quite different.

Criticism is valuable and necessary, but so is enthusiasm. Og Mandino said: “Every memorable act in the history of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no mater how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity but with it you can accomplish miracles.”

There’s been a lot of talk about conventional exhibitions and events that ArtPrize should model itself after in order to enter the “serious” art world. Don’t look to the ivory towers, make those people look at you. They need change more than ArtPrize.

An event like ArtPrize would be extremely difficult for most museums to pull off, because of the bureaucracy of institutions and “high brow” thinking that governs all that they do. Grand Rapids is lucky to have a free agent like Rick DeVos that has taken an interest in art. (I swear he did not pay me to say that.)

Embrace your inner circus/state fair and set up cotton candy and ice cream stands. Offer a food map next year (with bakeries in bold). Okay, that’s totally  selfish.

There is always room for improvement. But, all suggestions aside, I fear that ArtPrize will make too many changes in years to come and start to look like another art fair or biennial. We don’t need any more of those — they push communities out more often than they bring them in. What makes ArtPrize radical and  fresh is its openness. I hope you don’t lose that.

Thank you Grand Rapids, Paul Moore, Rick DeVos, Bill Holsinger-Robinson, Jeffrey Meeuwsen, and everyone else at ArtPrize for having me. I can hardly wait to see what happens next year.

Posted by Nicole Caruth in General

4 Responses to “Eyes on the Prize: The Future of ArtPrize”

Jordana Dickinson says:
October 2, 2009 at 3:55 pm

It has been great to have you blogging about Artprize Nicole. I feel totally honored just to be a apart of this awesome competition. Even though I didn’t make it in the top 100 I am already energized and am working on my project for AP 2010. Go Artprize:)

Kim Boynton says:
October 2, 2009 at 4:00 pm

I agree…we don’t want ArtPrize to become like other “high brow” art events. I also agree that venue may have played too large a role, but clearly 1200+ pieces needed a lot of space. Love the state fair/food map addition…maybe I should open a downtown bakery before next year.

This event reflected our city’s culture very well…homey with a little bit of sophistication! It makes me proud to be a Grand Rapidian. I applaud Rick and his crew for giving our city the most fun I’ve seen in a very long time! I know there are those already plotting for next year and I am excited for what is to come (and it isn’t even over yet).

Heather Miller says:
October 2, 2009 at 4:10 pm

I really agree with what you have to say here. Thank you for writing it.

Kristen Roberts says:
October 2, 2009 at 5:12 pm

You know…I’m not sure I’d change a thing. This felt fresh and young and surprising–you seriously never knew what you were going to see. Rock on, ArtPrize!

This has been one incredible event and nowhere have I seen, read or heard that ANYONE else is reporting about this cultural happening outside of Grand Rapids, MI. Why IS that? If you have heard about the 2009 ArtPrize (an event that has some history in other states, in previous years!)_ leave a comment! I would like to build national momentum in favor of ArtPrize traveling the country, popping up all over the place for the benefit of artists in their communities, AND communities also!!

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