For the uninitiated, ArtPrize is the world's largest art competition. In 2012, 1,517 artist entries will be on display at 162 venues from September 19 through October 7. Cash prizes are awarded, and the top award winners are determined solely by public vote.
This year’s competition will be an opportunity for Kendall to display the renovated galleries in the Historic Federal Building. (During ArtPrize’s inaugural year, the space served as “The Hub” — the center of the ArtPrize universe.) And Michele Bosak, Assistant Director of Exhibitions and show curator knows that the building and the exhibition will be front and center once again.
“This is a year of firsts,” Bosak told me. “It’s the first year we’ve had a theme for the show, and it will be our first year as an Exhibition Center.” Within the three-square-miles of ArtPrize, there will be seven Exhibition Centers. Each one will have Voter Registration, ArtPrize Merchandise, event guides and a nearby ArtBus stop. In fact, many ArtPrize visitors begin their exploration at an Exhibition Center, so Bosak is expecting some heavy traffic. “After all, there’s no better place to explore and experience art, than an art and design college,” she explained.
It’s not uncommon for Exhibition Center shows to be built around a theme. “Themes are important,' she explained. “It provides cohesiveness to an exhibition and allows the viewer some context or starting point, at which they can begin making connections amongst the work. It can also help create the capacity for some more challenging work to become approachable, enabling the audience a deeper understanding the artwork they’re viewing. So, this year our theme is ‘Role/Play.’”
Yes, it’s wordplay. Bosak has curated a playful show, featuring pieces that range from a giant, robotic sock puppet, and a landscape crafted from articles of clothing from Goodwill resale shops, to a towering stack of chairs and striking portraits painted using powered graphite. And she is hopeful that the audience will play a role in the show, interacting with each site-specific installation.
Three artists will be exhibiting at the Fountain Street Building: Lucia Eames, the daughter of designer Charles Eames; Lucia’s daughter Llisa Demetrios (whose brother, Eames Demetrios, participated in the first ArtPrize with a marker from his Kcymaerxthaere project; and Liz Miller (who, by the way, is no relation to the Eames family.)
Mark Reigelman’s “Giving Tree” will be erected outside the Federal Building on the new Division Street sculpture pad, and the remaining ten installations will be exhibited inside the Federal Building. “Some artists have participated in previous ArtPrize shows, others have exhibited in other Grand Rapids venues, and the remainder will be new to Grand Rapids. It’s a exciting mix,” Bosak added.
Kendall will again sponsor the ArtPrize Speaker Series, and the Historic Federal Building will be the venue for most of the presentations.
I look forward to speaking with several participating artists and sharing their thoughts on ArtPrize in upcoming blogs.
~ Pamela Patton
Photos: Matthew Gubanscik