After posting my top picks last night, I waited all day with hopefulness and a little skepticism about which works would end up in the ArtPrize Top Ten. I mean, I knew who was in the Top 25, and felt a little uneasy about many of the pieces that landed there. So would the same hold true for the Top Ten?
The Grand Rapids Press ran a piece today in anticipation of the Top Ten announcement that included commentary plucked from area blogs - both written by people I know - "area blogger" (Actually, Joe Force.) posted his ArtPrize Doomsday Scenario, David Maxam authored a post today titled How not to suck at ArtPrize. Clearly people were concerned for the Top Ten and rightly so.
The good news, three of my top picks were named to the ArtPrize Top Ten tonight:
Lure/Forest, Beili Liu, showing at UICA Fulton/Division
Vision, David Spriggs, showing at GRAM
(detail) Cavalry, American Officers, 1921, Chris LaPorte, showing at GRAM
The maybe not so good news: beyond the three above, there are few pieces that I'm okay with being on the list (it could have been worse) and then there's the rehashed ideas and the kitsch. You can go here for a complete list of the Top Ten. I know blood, sweat and tears probably went into creating each piece in the Top Ten, so I congratulate everyone who made the cut. I do have something to say, however, about how we might improve upon this year's Top Ten and make it better for next year.
I truly appreciate ArtPrize, the artists who enter and the energy that fills Grand Rapids. I've been buzzing all week about art, soaking up all the creative energy that's in the air. I feel somewhat protective of ArtPrize and of Grand Rapids though. I don't want it or us to become a joke for awarding this massive prize to a piece of "art" that's basically a gimmick or a rehash of something that's been done before. The caliber of art that wins ArtPrize, heck even gets into the Top Ten, sets a tone about what's capable of winning. If we recognize the giant spectacle or an artist's rehash of an old idea, I fear we'll discourage the caliber of artists who's participation would sustain ArtPrize and make this competition truly world class.
If an artist places in the Top Ten, congratulate them, write them their check, and ask that they not return for a year or two as a way of allowing and encouraging other artists a chance at being recognized. Clearly people are creatures of habit, they voted two of last year's Top Ten artists into this year's Top Ten. Did anyone else catch that?
I would encourage the public to vote based on the piece entered, not the remembrance of recognizing that artist's brilliance a day late and a dollar short the year before. Sorry, Young Kim, last year's piece deserved to be in the Top Ten and it wasn't. It was beautiful! This year's piece just wasn't as powerful or amazing. It felt forced. Maybe it was the space? Maybe the fact that we were herded in and out like cattle to see this year's piece? Maybe because I was comparing it to last year's work. I still appreciate your work.
Because I've spent so much time voyaging around Grand Rapids, searching for these art treasures, I felt personally invested in my favorites making it to a certain level. I wish I had that much influence! HA!
At the end of Day Nine, I guess I need to take a step back, much like I did with several of my favorite pieces, so I can appreciate what is. I've had an amazing time the last nine days/nights. I've seen some fantastic works of art. I've met and chatted with some genuinely lovely individuals who have such a passion for what they do that I've been inspired. I've felt so alive and energetic the last nine days, even though I've gotten far less sleep than I normally require. All is more than well. Thank you ArtPrize.
I'm dying to hear what the "experts" have to say at Friday night's Critical Discourse - Battle for the Top Ten. See you there!