Q: Can one see 1262 artworks in 7 days and give the work its due?
A: One can try, but probably no.
As some of you may know, ArtPrize is a new visual arts competition being held in Grand Rapids, MI from September 23 to October 9, 2009. It’s been the talk of the town here in River City since late April of this year. Many posts, comments, chats and an aha moment later, we are now on the cusp of something. With venue and artist matching complete, everyone is building, painting, installing, cleaning up after themselves, twittering and teasing all sorts of minutia; drip, drip, drip — you get the picture.
So, what does the discerning art viewer do to make their way through it all? I started by reviewing each entry online. With a healthy application of Sturgeon’s Law (both of them) I winnowed a list of selections down and I plan to give what work remains the time it deserves.
Full disclosure: I listed a few artists I know–totaling about 1% of ArtPrize–but then I tend to know good artists. Not everyone made that cut either. Those that remain deserve a spot on this list.
10% of 1262, organized by venue:
Bridge Street Concepts
Calder Plaza/ City Hall
106 Gallery/Calvin College
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum /Ab Nab Awen Park
Fountain Street Church
Grand Valley Artists Association
Grand Rapids Art Museum
Grand Rapids Community Foundation
Grand Rapids Civic Theatre
Grand Rapids Public Museum
Kendall College of Art and Design
Lee Shore Leonard Building
Meijer Broadcast Center/GVSU
Monroe Community Church
Newberry Place Cohousing Community
Old Federal Building
Rob Bliss Productions
Negative Space Collective
Douglas Powers, John
Feliciano Solomon, Sonjie
Geul Han, Bang
werge, adrienne noelle
The Open Concept Gallery
Peaches Bed & Breakfast
The Peacock Building
River House Condominiums
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Paula Scott Unlimited and Think Design
209 South Division
45 Ottawa SW
47 Commerce SW
40 S. Division at Weston SE
The how and the why of it all
I spent a week or so after the closing of matching in mid-August, reviewing, venue by venue, all 1262 entries. Often it was like house-hunting: I am sure that when I actually view some of this work installed, I’ll regret some of my choices for sure, but I may also stumble up a gem that the web could not do justice.
Aptitude alone does not result in Art. Art begins in the realm of ideas, the human intellect visualized. While looking at all the entries I had a few basic criteria:
- If an artist did not have any imagery or a link to external site they immediately did not make the cut. It’s a visual arts competition not an essay contest.
- I like pieces that are responsive to the site where installed.
- I prefer works that speak to our time and realities we live with now.
- I like work that heightens awareness of how we experience space and time.
I based my choices on my own aesthetic preferences, developed with a: post-secondary education major in fine art; a creative professional life; time spent visiting museums and sites throughout the US and Europe; questions and conversations with my colleagues; and going to the library to hit the books.
The back half of September will be interesting. I will post more in the coming days. Flame-on!