Tuesday, October 14, 2014

ArtPrize 2014: Public Vote Results

Warning: the following is a ridiculously long post. If you'd rather just look at the photos rather than read all of my comments, I won't be offended. XD You can click on any photo to view it larger in a slide show format. I also have a slide show of my personal favorite entries at the very bottom.

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The winners of this year's ArtPrize were revealed last Friday night. I was not especially surprised by any of the public vote winners. None of pieces Mom voted for won anything, which is quite disappointing.

Because of the new 4-category system implemented this year, the "Top Ten" of previous years has gone by the wayside. This also means that the prizes determined by the popular vote only go to the 4 category winners rather than to 10 could-be-anything winners. All runners-up got diddly squat, and that seems rather sad. I think that at least 2nd and 3rd in each category should win something for their success, but nobody's asking me...

2-D category:

Winner: $20,000 
Outcry by Gretchyn Lauer

This is a 5' x 4' oil painting. Here is the artist's statement:
"I've always loved art because of its transcendence. Just like a good book, a good piece of art can transport you into another world, story, and soul. My hope with this painting is that when you are transported into her soul, you will be greatly burdened by what you find - a beautiful girl with hopes and dreams sold into sex-trafficking at 14 and impregnated by one of her clients at a young age. For her, nightmares were her reality. I want her outcry for help to become our outcry for love, prevention, and healing."
This painting looked like a photograph even up close. I think it was beautifully done, and it sure does get an emotional response out of its viewers. I had hoped something more uplifting would win, but I had a feeling that the story behind this one would give it an edge over the other 4 contenders. I was right.

2nd place:
Into the Autumn Woods by Sandra Bryant

This 18' x 7.5' glass mosaic mural of a Midwestern fall scene is breathtaking, and I wish I could've seen it in person like Mom did. White-tailed deer, birds, a rabbit, and other creatures are included in remarkable detail. 

3rd place:
Autumn's Passage by Frits Hoendervanger

Another big, so-carefully-painted-it-could-be-a-photograph oil painting made the top 5. This artist won 3rd place and $50,000 with a similar painting (a spring forest scene) on the same stretch of wall back in 2012. Funny how that worked out.

4th place:
Gabriella by Armin Mersmann

It surprised Mom that this pencil drawing of a young woman with curly hair made it into the top 5. There were other bigger, more involved pencil drawings in the competition, and generally the public tends to think that the bigger a piece, the better. Part of the reason for its success is probably that people were impressed that it took upwards of 900 hours to complete. The final result, while lovely and very skillfully done, didn't do much for me. I guess because Gabriella is so perfect and looks like she knows it. XD

5th place:
Perspective by Mark Middleton

I absolutely love this acrylic painting: a mother and baby rhino reflected in the eye of a zebra. As with Gabriella, I was surprised this painting made it into the top 5 at all. It is 5' by 4', but somehow it didn't seem nearly that large up high on that big wall. It's a shame this one didn't win, as the South African artist said the money would've gone towards anti-rhino-poaching efforts.

I'd have ranked the top 5 2-D pieces like this:
1st: Into the Autumn Woods
2nd: Perspective
3rd: Autumn's Passage
4th: Outcry
5th: Gabriella

3-D category:

Winner: $20,000
Reciprocity by Marc Sijan

Reciprocity is a life-size resin and oil paint sculpture. The first time I glanced at a photo of it, I thought the figure on the guy's back was a woman. It's actually supposed to be the younger man's father. Oops. I assume it is supposed to symbolize that eventually parents get old and need the support of their children rather than the other way around. Aside from the obvious wigs, the figures are so lifelike that Mom was a bit creeped out when she saw them in person. What I want to know is why the father has his pants rolled up and bare feet. I guess so the artist could show off how realistically he can sculpt and paint old legs and feet. ;^)

2nd place:
Engulfed in Glass by Jilly Barnes

This 18' x 5'4" piece contains 236 pieces of layered glass. It depicts West Michigan's shoreline through the 4 seasons: an icy moonlit winter night, a calm spring morning, a beautiful summer sunset, and a dramatic fall storm. It does look better in person than pictures according to Mom, but she still wasn't especially taken with it. I can't say it's my favorite either even though I love the idea of it. I think it looks a bit messy - I guess I prefer smaller pieces of glass to these big blocky chunks. 

3rd place:
Art In Motion by Dominic Pangborn

Each of the 7 panels within this 10' x 5' x 3' "art on aluminum" piece is a Michigan scene. It doesn't look like much in a flat picture, but in person it creates a really cool optical illusion. Not only does it look 3-D, but it seems to move to follow you as you walk by it. 

4th place:
Poseidon's Paradise

The fish and anemone sculpture pictured above is only one of 20 amazing wooden sea life sculptures included in this entry. No paints or varnishes were used, which makes their shiny smoothness and contrasting colors even more remarkable. They were all displayed on tables in a tent, and visitors were allowed to touch many of them "gently" as they walked by. =) I think this was my favorite of all of the entries this year.

5th place:
The Pond by the Kroeze Krew
2,000+ wooden sculptures of raindrops, ripples, and splashes were meticulously pieced together to form this snapshot of a pond in a rainstorm. The raindrops are suspended by clear thread from the framework. I would've loved to see this in person. It looks amazing! 

I'd have ranked the top 5 3-D pieces like this:
1st: Poseidon's Paradise
2nd: The Pond
3rd: Art In Motion
4th: Reciprocity
5th: Engulfed in Glass

Time-Based category:

Winner: $20,000
Your Move? by Robert Shangle

How can this be time-based? you may ask. Isn't it just an oil painting? That's sure what it looks like in photographs. In reality, this man set up a 3D backdrop, table, chair, and chessboard to look like they were painted. Then, he made himself look like he'd just stepped out of an oil painting - it took hours to do so every time, apparently. He would insert himself into the painting as the chess master and sit there very still, occasionally moving ever so slowly to consider a move or to sit back up straight to gaze at the audience. It's a very unique idea, I'll give him that, but it is also borderline creepy in my mind. XD

2nd place:
Color Out the Darkness by Carol Roeda

This semicircle contained 25 10-foot columns made out of cardboard, tar paper, wood, metal, and paint.  On the outside of the curve, the pillars are black and intimidating, but when you walk closer and make your way around it, you see that each pillar is covered with quotes in white paint. Each quote has something to do with light overcoming darkness.  The inside of the semicircle, as you can see in the photo, is a rainbow of color, symbolizing light and hope. 

3rd place:
Urban Tumbleweed by Nathan Lareau

Meet Rhythm Rover, a wood and steel creation. As you can imagine, when it is placed on an incline, it rolls - sort of like a tumbleweed, but also sort of jerkily like a many-legged creature. I found myself imagining it had a mind of its own. It contains a digital audio recorder so that as it roves around on various terrain, it captures different rhythms. Visitors could look at a stationary Rhythm Rover and also watch a video clip of it in action: rolling down sidewalks, roads, bridges, a forest, and finally coming to rest in a peaceful expanse of green grass.

4th place:
Peralux by NewD Media

This entry was housed in a dark room. Visitors could sit or stand in the middle of the room and watch the light show unfold around them while a dramatic soundtrack played in the background. Here's the official explanation of it from ArtPrize.org: "PERALUX is a sensory experience for young and old that shatters the limits of the 2D rectangular screens (be they silver, glass, or plasma) that have held moving images captive for a century. Visitors are invited on an immersive journey of light as animation escapes the frame to interact with the real world of solid shapes and architecture."

5th place:
Always Nowhere by Liz Roberts

Why "Always Nowhere?" Because when driving in a car, you are always on your way from one destination to another. The windows of this sedan have been replaced with screens that show video footage of the open road  and surrounding landscape whipping by. This underscores how the experience of driving is sort of like watching a movie: "we are together but alone, sitting still but moving, passive but active," writes the artist. What inspired this? The artist covered that too: "Having had a near-fatal crash, I find the tension between the interior appearance of serene safety and the exterior potentiality of mechanical destruction fascinating."

I'd have ranked the top 5 time-based pieces like this:

1st: Urban Tumbleweed

2nd: Your Move?
3rd: Always Nowhere
4th: Peralux
5th: Color Out the Darkness

Installation Category:

Grand Prize Winner and Installation Winner: $200,000 (Also won an additional $100,000 for tying for the Jury's Grand Prize)
Intersections by Anila Quayyum Agha

Intersections is the first entry ever to win both the public and juried vote. The 6.5' x 6.5' x 6.5' wooden box had geometric patterns laser cut into it that are reminiscent of those in Islamic mosques. The box was suspended from the ceiling of a classy but blank-walled room in the Grand Rapids Art Museum and had a light source placed inside. The resulting shadows projected around the room were quite something. I can easily see why it did so well - it was installed in the perfect place to look its best and to get seen by the maximum number of people. 

2nd place:
A Series of Handmade
Japanese Paper Cut Sculptures
by Solo + Kojima

The eagle above was crafted out of a single piece of black paper. It was one of three animals in the entry, the other two being a swimming polar bear (white paper) and a standing leopard (black paper). I think it's a shame that these creations were installed in a building with such busy landscapes around them. If they had had a nice blank-walled corner to be, they would've looked more impressive.

3rd place:
Despite Similarities to Reality,
This is a Work of Fiction

by Ryan Spencer Reed

This installation consisted of 61 images taken by the artist of the war in Afghanistan. They are set up in 4 volumes: Preparation for War, Dissonance, Soldier's Eye View, and Drone's Eye View. The presentation room layout was such that the exits were not in plain sight. The intention: to make the viewer more engulfed in the work and more uncomfortable. The image above, showing US soldiers in transit to Bagram Air Field on a C-17, was one of the most powerful.

4th place:
Grand River Fish Petroglyph
by Kevin Sudeith

The artist transported 5 Michigan field stone boulders to the banks of the Grand River. There, he carved and painted 20 fish species (life size, all species that can be found in the river) into the boulders. These petroglyphs will remain where they are permanently. I hope that the fish are durable enough to make it through Michigan winters... and that nobody tries to deface them.

5th place:
Breathe by Dave MacKenzie

This wall of plants is about 150' long and 22' tall at its peak. It contains almost 3,500 annual, perennial, and tropical plants. The white flowers spelling out "Breathe O2" symbolize air, the green above and below represent fields and forests, and the yellow in the corner symbolizes the sun, which fuels the process of photosynthesis. The north and west surfaces (not pictured) feature Michigan tree leaf shapes made out of plants. Lights have also been installed so that "Breathe" and the outlines of the leaf shapes glow at night. The artist intended to convey that living plants have an important place in our world - even in the urban environments we have created. They refresh us with their beauty, remind us of our connection to nature, and provide us with the oxygen we breathe.

I'd have ranked the top 5 installations like this:
1st: A Series of Handmade Japanese Paper Cut Sculptures
2nd: Grand River Fish Petroglyph
3rd: Intersections
4th: Despite Similarities to Reality, This is a Work of Fiction
5th: Breathe

Whew, I feel like my fingers are about to fall off now. So much clicking and typing! But before I go, here is a little slideshow of my favorite ArtPrize entries from this year. They will all be getting titles, but I've run out of time to do it today. 

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