My parents and little brother came out to spend the day in Grand Rapids, celebrate a bunch of our birthday's at once (September and October are busy birthday months) and check out Artprize.

Artprize was...disappointing. There are a lot more businesses getting in on the action, as well as charities and other non-profits peddling their respective causes.

I don't have a problem with commercial art or non-profits asking for donations. I do have a problem with them being given venue space in what is supposed to be a fine arts event. I'm at Artprize to enjoy the art, maybe catch a bite to eat, and enjoy downtown. I'm not at Artprize to choose your bank (since you're sponsoring a kitschy photo booth in the hopes that I'll switch from a competitor) or decide that I want to help all the orphans in the world.

Since the venue chooses what to display, I suspect a lot of venues are just happy to loan space to whoever will drive traffic into their establishment. And that's a problem. (At least for me. Maybe other people are fine with it.) They should have more rules in place to restrict the entries like WMU flying a giant banner of horses which happens to be their mascot. You can't tell me that's not an advertisement for the college.
There was a nice ustream critical discourse on the Top 10 entries that is worth watching at least part of. And there's an opinion piece in The Rapidian that has some suggestions on how to improve the event in the future.

This is not to say the entire event is a waste of time and chock-full of glorified lawn ornaments - no. There are some great pieces. One of my favorite so far has been Lady of the Dance, which is entirely sculpted. There is some awesome stitching detail up the side of the woman's shirt that you can't see in photos.

Since I work downtown I have plenty of time over the next week and a half to check out some of additional venues I did not see over the weekend. I'm sure there are other awesome entries just off the beaten path.

Chris has some pretty good thoughts on Artprize as well.


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