The 10% solution: a way to see the best of ArtPrize

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:


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:

  1. 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.
  2. I like pieces that are responsive to the site where installed.
  3. I prefer works that speak to our time and realities we live with now.
  4. I like work that heightens awareness of how we experience space and time.
  5. Whimsy.

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!

32 thoughts on “The 10% solution: a way to see the best of ArtPrize”

    • From my reading, the prize is to be included on your list. Thank you, I will enjoy myself and my time in GR and you do the same.

  1. Matthew, I suggest that you defend your position not to include my work. I don't think it's necessary for me to submit to you a professional/historical/curatorial justification for my submittal. My installation has already gone through a jury process at one of the two venues that had such a process at the outset of Artprize. Your arrogance is amazing.

  2. dennis,
    Artprize screams of over 100 different venue bias most of which you and I might agree are " no longer relevant to contemporary art practices". I'm just pointing out the fact that this didn't seem to stop you from entering. Why pick on Patulski?
    PS. I love you work and still look forward to meeting you.

    • Richard, I am not picking on him, he's taken it upon himself to advertise and distribute his opinion on facebook and then doesn't expect a reaction from those not included on his list? More than a little arrogance there, I think. He's told me to lay out my case as in a professional/historical and curatorial context and maybe he'll consider it. Who the hell is he, and why are you acting as an intermediary on his behalf?

      I was able to secure a location in one of the two venues that had a jury process to get in. I've jumped through a few hoops already and now Patulski's List is another. I had a great opening at The Federal Building last night and spent time with the many visitors to my installation and enjoyed their reactions and thoughts – it was exceptional. Richard, doesn't this list raise a question in your mind , after reading posts from others here that are almost pleading with Patulski to get on it?

  3. Project Propagate at 2 East Fulton. Not on the list!
    I have a feeling this is because we didnt have any photos of our project on our ArtPrize profile, IT WASNT CREATED YET.

  4. Interesting. In one thread a little microcosm of the problems of a (so called) "open to anyone" competition. The truth is you can't really see all 1200 plus pieces or more to the point nor would you really want to. I'm not talking about the actual physical feat but the mental act of try to experience 1200 Art works. Matthew has compiled a list of his recommended pics and look at the responses in got. Dissolved into thin air are all those warm fuzzy feelings of comaraderie. We have some artists making rather poor cases for why they should be included and some just being downright testy. What happen to to the love of ArtPrize.?
    @Dennis..Why didn't you complain about the biases and lack of credibility of the venue owners who picked who got into AP?
    If you stick your hand in the snake pit you have to be ready to get bit.

    • Richard, my reaction is definitely "testy" with this list as it does scream of biases that are no longer relevant to contemporary art practises. It's one persons attempt to manipulate the outcome of Artprize, someone that apparently has an education and is using it to fit thier own agenda. I'm surprised that you're not speaking out against it as one that has been so vocal about such issues since the outset of this competition.

      • @ Dennis: The list is biased. Its my list. Its built form what I have to work with. That you are not on the list is not a personal slight. You are on others obviously given you top 50 status at the moment.

        • Matthew, yes, I do take your exclusion of my entry from your list as an affront to me and my work. Essentially, what you're saying is that my work is not good enough to fit into the top 10% of this competition based upon your narrow biased criteria and it is available for all voters to see on facebook. Yes, I think you are attempting to manipulate the outcome to fit your personal agenda. I do not know who you are, but apparently you know many in the Grand Rapids area and your opinion may influence voters. I hope not, but it does appear to be your aim.

          • This is a list of choice of work I want to see. I may have made bad choices, the AP webste makes it hard ot view and judge work. I said that above. Tell me more how it is narrow minded? make the professional/historical/curatorial case.

          • This is a list of my choices of work I want to see. I may have made bad choices, the AP website makes it hard to view and judge work. I said that above. Tell me more how it is narrow minded? Make the professional/historical/curatorial case.

  5. Your list seems very measured and thoughtful and i appreciate that; I think for uniqueness and interactive/new media, you should put "Haven" on your list…if you are coming to Newberry Place, you can't miss it!

  6. Ten top reasons to include Darlene Kaczmarczyk's work ( in your list:
    10. She hates top ten lists so much even this one may be short.
    9. She fits all of your criteria above, such as:
    8. Her work is about advertising and her venue is a billboard.
    7. Advertising IS about our times – she uses 1950's advertising because it's easier to swallow a pill coated with honey
    6. Her work is both whimsical AND subversive at the same time (go figure!)

    1. She's asking you nicely to reconsider and go look at the billboard now installed on Monroe NW, corner of Trowbridge (just north of Michigan Ave.).

  7. I don't see my name on this list and yet I know my work is exceptional. It is unfortunate that you possess such a limited understanding of what is considered "visual" and dismiss and exclude the written word or conceptual. You lack an understanding of the nature of words that are seen, read and felt and how they are manifested and interpreted by each individual viewers experience, body and brain. Have you ever heard of concrete poetry? The use of text/imagery is interchangeable and yet words communicate without the redundancy of being pictorial, in some hands words are visual without your necessary requirement of being illusional or seductive eye candy. Unfortunately, your list is extremely biased and lacks credibility because of it.

  8. Wow. David's comment about "acting in an honest, beautiful manner during our daily lives" really struck me. I now limit my exposure to the news, as I find the tones and faces of anger appalling. David's work speaks for itself, and should indeed be included on anyone's short list.

    • Have you entered anything? I was just reading this post, and realized you were my art teacher in Jr. High School at Godwin, right? Wendi Watts, I'm sure you don't remember me, way back in the, well, I won't date us too much! Anyway, would love to check out yours, if you have one…

  9. I’ll make a case for my work,”Enlightenment”, to be included on the list. While I desire it to be timeless, that is relevant to those living in any time, this by default would include our time and the realities we face. While the immediate, and sometimes only impact, of my work for viewers is often that of a beautiful physical object there is an underlying suggestion that we manifest the best spiritual parts of ourselves in the physical world. That is, we should strive to act in an honest, beautiful manner during our daily lives. I admit not everyone gets this part of my work, and I don’t try hitting them over the head with it either, as I think the message is less likely to be acted upon then.

    Another aspect of my work that doesn’t really convey well with photos is its physical presence. I really do feel it heightens our awareness and experience of space and time. It has long been a goal in my artwork to create works of enough beauty that they will literally pull a person out of that constant internal dialog we all spend much of our conscious energy in. I want to bring them into the present moment where they can experience the light, colors, and tactile experience of something.

    Well that’s my case for the inclusion to your list. Thanks for the opportunity to present it.

    Here’s the link.

    • @Kevin, I plan on seeing every piece on this list and will let my vote be the narrowing. Look for future posts on that experience.
      @Jane: Please post the profile link if you want make your case. Same goes for others out there.

Comments are closed.