Wednesday, October 10, 2012

ArtPrize 2012

Lily here. Again.

Sadly, ArtPrize 2012 ended on Sunday. It's taken awhile for me to get my act together and post something about it, but now I am finally ready. What is ArtPrize, you may ask? It is the world's largest art competition, and it's held every fall in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This year, there were 162 venues and 1517 art entries. $360,000 was awarded by public vote and $200,000 was awarded by a "select group of art experts" (quoting ArtPrize's website there, lol). That adds up to $560,000 in prize money!

I didn't go downtown, but I got the scoop on a lot of the best pieces from Mom and helped her vote. It's taken awhile for me to get my act together and post something about it, but now I am finally ready.

These entries came in first, second, and third by popular vote:

First Prize:

Elephants by Adonna Khare
This impressive piece is a huge, ridiculously detailed pencil drawing of a entwined grouping of animals: mostly elephants and primates, but also all kinds of other animals in scaled-down sizes. There is so much going on in this piece - the longer you look, the more you find. That makes it pretty amazing. However, when I said the animals were entwined, I really meant it. The animals are literally sewn to each other. For this reason, I found the piece rather disturbing. It didn't get our vote.

close up on Elephants
Second Prize:

Song of Lift by Martijn van Wagtendok
This entry is a 5-minute long visual experience set to opera music. From a circular structure with 12 arms hang tons of these little "birds" on discrete strings. The birds start off flapping in place gently in various groupings at the beginning of the piece. As the music gets darker and more intense, they all start flapping and then flying around in a circle while the lights spin and change colors. I wish I could have been there to see this in person. Mom said it reminded her a lot of the scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone where there is a room with winged keys flying around. 

Third Prize:
Rebirth of Spring by Frits Hoendervanger
This absolutely gorgeous oil painting was so perfect that it looked like a photograph, only better. It had a prime spot in its venue. I was quite pleased that it did so well.

And now, for my own list of the top 3 best works of art:

Stick-to-it-ive-ness: Unwavering pertinacity; perserverance by Richard Morse
This herd of 9 "stick" horses was installed out in the Grand River, which runs through downtown Grand Rapids. The horses are determinedly making their way upstream together, strengthening and supporting each other. The artist himself struggled to survive stage 4 cancer, which inspired the title for the piece.

"Stick-to-it-ive-ness" made it into the juror's short list for Best Use of Urban Space. In addition, they made it into the Top Ten by popular vote and then came in 4th of that 10 in the second week of voting. 4th through 10th place all received $5,000 each, while 3rd, 2nd, and 1st all received way bigger prizes. So I was bummed to hear that this one didn't at least make 3rd. It got Mom's vote.

Close up on 3 horses

On Thin Ice by Justin La Doux
The far-away picture above doesn't do this work justice, but it's the best one I could find online that shows the whole thing. The animals floating on icebergs are made from a wide variety of recycled materials. These included a mother polar bear and her cub, a snow leopard, an arctic fox, a walrus, 2 seals, a narwhal, a snowy owl swooping down on a rabbit, and a bunch of cute penguins. The fragmented mirrors that made up the "water" around the icebergs gave the piece a really cool icy shine. According to the artist, the purpose of her entry was "to illustrate how everyone can recycle and help Mother Earth retain all her beauty." What a beautiful sentiment. 

The owl was made mostly of silverware!
A narwhal! My favorite part hands down! =)

The Allegory of the Cave by Read Lockhart
I loved this incredible oil painting! The idea of painting a horse from a shadow is awesome in the first place. Its connection to The Allegory of the Cave makes it even more meaningful.

For those of you who don't know, The Allegory of the Cave is a parable from the philosopher Plato's work, The Republic. I'm no philosopher, but here's my probably oversimplified summary of it:

Socrates is the narrator of this story even though the whole thing is written by Plato. Don't ask me why. Anyway, Socrates describes a group of prisoners who have spent their whole lives chained inside a cave facing a bare cave wall. They are restrained so that can't even turn their heads - all they can see is the back wall of the cave. Behind them is a fire. When people and animals pass between the fire and the prisoners, the prisoners see their shadows on the cave wall. The prisoners come to think that the shadows are the real things and the echoes of sound they hear are the real sounds the shadows make. Then, one prisoner is freed from the cave and learns that shadows aren't reality at all, just projected shadows of real things. (Supposedly, philosophers are like this enlightened prisoner.) When the former prisoner returned to the cave and attempted to share his revelations with the other prisoners, he would have been laughed at.

It's interesting to think about what might've happened had the prisoner been able to drag a real horse in front of the other prisoners. Or, of course, paint a horse from its shadow. XD

There were so many other awesome works of art at ArtPrize this year!

If you'd like to quick click through my Photobucket album of my top 25 favorite ArtPrize entries, check out this link: My Top 25

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