Thursday, October 9, 2014

ArtPrize 2014, Grand Rapids, Michigan

There's a great art happening going on in Grand Rapids, Michigan these days. The public is voting. The jurors are voting--for the best of 1536 entries in an art competition that will rival Florida's Basel. The two cash prizes to be awarded October 12th are over a quarter of a million dollars each.  I've been following the festivities carefully online via  the ArtPrize app and have chosen my favorites in the Two Dimensional (2D) group. The winner will be revealed in the next few days.

Soldier by Susan Opton, a portrait, on an oversized canvas, in oil.




Autumn's Passage, by Fritz Hoendervanger, on an oversized canvas, on oils.







Perspective, by Mark Middleton on an oversized canvas in acrylic.





Gabriella, by Armin Mersmann, on an oversized canvas, in graphite.




Outcry, by Gretchyn Lauer. On an oversized canvas, in oil.






I can't decide which one of these fine artists should win the prize for two dimensional work.  Todd is rooting for his mentor, Mersmann's Gabriella.  I'm in awe of them all.  After nearly a year of studying Alla Prima,  wet into wet spontaneity, note that none of these paintings I, and the voting public and art jurors, selected are done in the gestural style.   Even though you and I know one has to be able to do this to do the other well, It seems that both laymen  and professionals marvel ultra-realism.  If pushed to choose, I would choose Soldier.  It's poignant to life today. My second choice is Perspective. It's a great play of oversized and miniature--and that's a great idea.

There's another 2D piece that the crowds and jurors favor as a top contender for the prize in this catagory. I disagree. I don't think it belongs; it's made out of glass mosaics on five panels. It was not done with a brush. It's a construction, not a painting, even though the ultimate effect is that of a painting and the woman's glass tile selection and cutting skills is obvious. I am hoping this entry that is so pastoral, it's kitch, is eliminated. It's by Sandra Bryant. Sorry Sandra deer romping through the woods is so sweet, it makes me gag. This is a mural for a hotel. 



         



About Grand Rapids, Michigan, the town, the art competition:

Grand Rapid's ArtPrize is a competition that is in it's sixth year.  Artists from all over the world are invited to participate and do.  Grand Rapids, Michigan is a charming town two hours from my home. It is Gerald Ford's home town. It is the home of Amway and its founders, the DeVos brothers and Meijer's, the giant, one stop, 'thrifty acres' stores.  The Meijer Sculpture Gardens is lovely and impressive, so I hear; I've yet to get there. Ellis and I go occasionally for the art when there is an exhibit of interest in the Grand Rapid's Museum,  or I feel like a ride on the carousel in The People's Museum.  Grand Rapids is an art town with charming Victorian architecture and trendy bistros.  It's a charming get away close to home. The Meijer family and the DeVos family are putting  it on the world art map and the world is paying attention. 










22 comments:

  1. "Perspective" and "Gabriella" are my choices, in that order, for a myriad of reasons. The last one is not in the same category.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Todd Buroughs, my mentor, would be pleased. I love Gabriella too, but Soldier does make a universal statement. As far as skill goes, all these artists are outstanding. The humor of Perspective may just put the artist in the winner circle.

      Delete
  2. Yes, all lovely. I wonder if Richard Schmid were a contestant...might they have voted for him too? The general public does love photo real, but there will always be plenty of room in the world for all the different styles. Um...is the soldier er.....alive? It is very unusual.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. I thought the artist should have researched dead eyes at the morgue. They have a dull, bluish gray film over the irises. But then, maybe she wanted the just struck down effect? I like how just turning the head sideways, gave the painting more meaning. This gal is a winner in my book and the photo realist approach was absolutely fitting for her message.

      Delete
  3. All outstanding! Actually, I'm speechless and will be throwing my supplies out!!! lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't you dare! Your work is awesome Hilda. Plus this Venetian method can drive you nuts if carried on too long. Luckily, my class is over December 1st and I'll be taking a wet into wet watercolor break from all the tedium. The one thing I will come away with is a sharper eye for values, just what I wanted.

      Delete
  4. Well, I've gone to Art Basel for the past five years or so and from your sample I'd call this the anti-Basel because photorealism is hardly to be seen. Concept is superior to aesthetics at Basel. But it is so huge and there is so very much talent, I am recharged for the year after going - it is always a sensory high. And there are always the modern masters there as well. I have stood a nose away from a Modigliani, a Freud, a Neel, and so on. Breathtaking. I can't wait. It is coming up in January!

    There is no question that the paintings you show are phenomenal (my vote is Soldier by a long shot!) but I just do not see the attraction to coming so close to real life. A photo would do just as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dan it seems I pushed a button. Sorry. I wasn't knocking Basel, I was explaining that this competition in Grand Rapids was on a similar grand scale. I have never been to Basel and will not go, but I have heard great things from people who have and who love walking miles, large crowds and waiting at restaurants to get a table. I do not. I appreciated ArtPrize having an app so I could avoid all that. I also liked seeing what the public and the jurors liked and these paintings are it. They are all huge--bigger is better? Bigger is more noticeable? I have a feeling artists are planning their huge entries for next year based on what is in the running this year this very moment. There are those of us who just love entering contests. There are those of us who paint what the public favors for monetary gains.

      I like Soldier best too. It's eloquent. A simple portrait turned a different way speaks volumes to all of us. This one had to be super realistic; no other approach would make the statement as strong. I think that no artist has to paint only in one style. I think that the style an artist chooses for her subject is part of the creative process. The style of a painting is a tool for expression. gestural just ust wouldn't have said Soldier as strongly.

      One more thing. We have all stood noses away from Modigliani, Picasso Titian, Carvaggio, etc. The museums are our home; we haunt them where ever we go. The Grand Rapid Museum has an impressive collection--not as impressive as my DIA or the Louvre, but impressive. It too had competition installations. This is a hip town.

      One more thing: photography. It's an art in itself. I rely on my camera for my painting references,. I would say most of us do for light only lasts so long out in the field and pele just won't hold those poses and expressions for longer than a second. How we paint from them is up to us. I like fast and loose. Most of us moderns do, but the PUBLIC who Came out in throngs in GR voted photo realism. With this post, I was just the messenger. :-))

      Delete
    2. I am so misunderstood. I didn't think you were knocking Basel. And I'm no Basel snoot. There is a lot - a lot - of weird stuff there. But it is big - big - and there is wonderful stuff between the strange and trendy.

      I also didn't mean to imply that you haven't stood nose to nose with great artists' works. We, frankly, have few good museums here and our only chance to see great works is often Basel. And it is only in one or two booths in a sea of hundreds. But that is enough for me.

      And photography - I didn't mean to knock photography, I love - love - photography if it is used well. It's just that to me photography freed the painter to, well, paint. They are two different mediums. And I know you like fast and loose. No shot was fired at the messenger. :)

      Delete
    3. You could have told me I spelled Basel wrong! You weren't misunderstood, I think you hit one of my chords and I came back at you. I am pretty tired of defending my use of photographs over schlepping my paints out into the woods and on city streets to paint alla prima in the allergy contaminating plein air--not that you've ever done that. It's ridiculous of anyone to think artists don't use photography in their work--they always have. I am also tired of being close minded to the photographic technique, (in modern terminology Photo Realsim), that is the Venetian School. The more skills an artist has the better. -And this technique is particularly important for would-be highly successful portrait artists; the masses, both rich and not so rich. One day, I might even feel energetic enough to fly down to Basel. --One day sooner, I might even go to ArtPrize now that I understand the competition.

      Delete
  5. Well, hyper-realism, or at least realism, seem to be "in" for this competition. And I agree with you about that panel!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doesn't it belong in the lobby of some hotel up north? Bambi? Romping? Give me a break. It's just too sweet. She and I could never go to lunch. Wouldn't it be interesting, if only artists could vote at one of these things?

      Delete
  6. "Soldier" at least shows some originality. Takes guts to enter a dead person into a show...or wait...maybe he is just resting his head...but then why the title? The preceding rumination indicates the artist succeeded in creating a dialog with the viewer...but so would a photo of the same image. I thought it was a photo when I first saw it. Maybe the criteria for the show was technical ability? If so then all of these pass the test. Technical ability has its merits. None of these gave me an emotional response other than admiration for the skill involved.

    The glass panel with leaping deer reminds me of a calendar Kincaid type and we know how popular he was with the masses. I was so thrilled when you wrote how it made you feel. I agree, but someone who likes it I know would hate my work. Taste is sooo subjective.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Photo realism does strike a sour chord with many of us. In it's tightness, it's exactness, it's static, emotionless--but the skill is admirable. The masses love it, but only the very wealthy can afford to own it. Of course Schmid's work too is priced for the wealthy--five digit numbers--too.

      I am enjoying and learning a lot about values while painting this grisaille. It's what I signed up for. Will I continue to paint this way after the 13 week class is up. No. I like paint and brushstrokes . I find myself using my thumb to blend instead of all that scumbling with a tiny brush. But my eye is getting keener wilting on this monochrome. And I'm pleased. I am also looking forward to translating this into color to see how the grisaille facilitates that. But to paint like this on a regular basis is out of the question.

      Class is over December 1st. December 2nd I'll be on a plane with my watercolor block, three brushes and a set of watercolor pads to splash some color around loosely next to the pool while looking at the beach. I also intend to head hunt with my camera for oil references over the winter. I will not have finished this portrait by the time I leave. I found out no one in the class finishes a painting in the first class; they all sign up again for the next class! Great business for the association and the teacher.


      Delete
  7. Complex subject that arouses many emotions in me ... I can not say in a few lines .
    Even if I am an amateur painter, however, I have created my own personal experience in the field, that makes me think in a manner similar to that writes Julie.
    When I wrote my email I had not yet read the wise words of the great Julie, who (with fewer words to me in the mail that I sent to you) made ​​it all clear.
    Julie is so right ... technical skill and  Art, can not going in the same direction sometime . Art works mannerism with perfect technique , topics very clever ,but very similar to many other worldwide, even at Voghera,on sale in the gallery near to home. (Great faces, colored and black and white crying or appear to be already dead, big canvas realistic animals, big canvas of natural scenes related to the seasons with every little leaf at the right place ... I see this every day and I ask myself the same questions ... the dealer with whom I talk sometimes tells me that the market is stationary and that these are the only things that occasionally sell)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sad isn't it. There's so much more joy in freely relating to a subject with little preparation, but lots of heart. Photo realism lacks heart you might think--Maybe the masses do too? --I am in the middle of responding to your email. I will send it to you after breakfast. I do think that we all should be open minded with regards to which processes an artist chooses. I don't think Soldier could have been painted any other way that would have such impact. Soldiers are dying out there for real. The artist was brilliant.

      Delete
  8. I like your choices and hope 'Soldier' wins it. 'Perspective' is a great idea, but I don't like the painting. The others didn't hold my attention at all. No soul.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Is 'Soldier' dead? I didn't see that at all

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, he's alive and well. From what I read, the artist went to an army base and several soldiers posed for her. She chose this one--whose parents recognized him while visiting ArtPrize! Can you imagine? If I suddenly came around a corner and saw my boy in this position with that title, I'd need a drink and to make a phone call. Only my son's voice would be able to calm me.

      Perspective was a cool idea playing giant against miniature. But to hang in my house? No.

      Delete
  10. wow can they paint !!! All incredibly stunning pieces !

    ReplyDelete
  11. So many choices! There's something I like in every one but I think I would like to view the whole Exhibition. In painting, I prefer admiring the brushstrokes than a photography anytime. I think it's a question of taste and doesn't diminish the talent of an artist. I would have loved OUTCRY and SOLDIER to show more of the emotional side of the painters.

    ReplyDelete