Let me begin this post by saying that I was at last year's ArtPrize Winners Announcement and I was thoroughly entertained and surprised at the caliber of the program itself. This year, not so much.
The gig was held in DeVos Place's Grand Ballroom - which was set up to seat 1500 people. Take a look at the photos of the line. I arrived at about 5:50 p.m. almost didn't make it inside! Doors opened at 6:30 p.m. and the show got underway at 7:00 p.m. I was probably six rows from the back, but on the aisle, so I still had a great view.
The view in line, looking behind me.
The view in line, looking toward the entrance to DeVos Place.
There were the obligatory thank you speeches by a few people, whom I should have noted. One was Kate Pew Walters though. They announced the awards for the juried prizes. You can go here for the Grand Rapids Press article that details who won. I was happy that Alex Schweder La's Evaporative Buildings was recognized for the International Award. If you haven't experienced this yet, go check it out while you still can. It's technically at UICA, but you enter the installation on Weston Street.
The New Century Dance Company performing.
The performances this year were what disappointed me. Were it not for being able to scroll through my Twitter feed, reading other attendees' commentary, it would have bordered on painful. Last year the New Century Dance Company wowed me and the rest of the audience with their signature dance moves performed behind a scrim. This year, their performance was a little too Disney for me, with dancing flowers and grasses inspiring an artist. Sorry to have to tell you, but the average age in the room was not four!
After announcing the top three (did not like that I had to go online to find out how the rest of the Top Ten played out, as they did not announce who placed where) they closed the show with a live DJ mixing some radio "hits." Eventually the dancers returned for a performance of the Thriller dance. Seriously? Ugh! Can we talk about context? It had absolutely nothing to do with ArtPrize and they could have at least performed something original, rather than trotting out a dance that everyone and their brother - even Filipino prisoners - has done and uploaded to YouTube! ArtPrize, I already expect more from you! Had I been involved in the planning (hey, there's always next year!) I would have lobbied hard against Thriller.
Chris LaPorte upon receiving his ArtPrize medallion.
Aside from the meh entertainment, the most important moment of the evening was hearing who our ArtPrize 2010 winner was! By now, you've probably read a ton about Chris LaPorte. His life has forever been changed! I'm so happy I was able to be in the room when the announcement was made! Congratulations again to him and every single artist who put their passion on display for the our bit of the world to see.
I have to admit that last night after the announcement I was feeling a bit Christmas-Day-after-all-the-presents-have-been-opened. Happy, yet a little bummed that all the excitement is coming to an end. I've spent the past sixteen days traipsing around town seeing as much art as I possibly could and sharing it with you. My city has been full of people and electricity. A couple got engaged inside Beili Liu's Lure/Wave Lure/Forest installation! Grand Rapids was on the Today show. People are discussing what art is. It's coming to and end and I just want to hang on to all of it! The best I can do is hold on to the inspiration and energy I've felt and do something creative of my own. I'm already looking forward to next year!
Rick DeVos, thank you for sharing your idea for ArtPrize with us! Year Two has been amazingly wonderful!