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September 22-October 10 there was a fine exhibition of art throughout the downtown public buildings and museums of Grand Rapids that brought thousands of people to stand in line to view art and talk about it with their friends. It is called ArtPrize. ArtPrize is a radically open competition. Open to any artist in the world who can find space. Open to anybody in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who wants to create a venue. Open to a vote from anyone who attends. There was almost $500,000 in prize money at stake and is sponsored by the De Vos Family, founders of Amway. 2010 was its second year.

Over 1700 artists displayed their work in over 300 locations. Anyone could vote to choose the prizewinners. You had to go to Grand Rapids to register, then you could vote at your leisure on your computer or at various balloting places around the city.

So why am I telling you about this again? The winners were announced last week and it has just sunk in on me that the big prize winner, Chris LaPorte, winner of $250,000 is someone I have met! Where? at an art fair!! Don't you just love it? The public speaks and who do they choose? Someone who draws portraits and caricatures at art fairs. Granted this was not caricature, but rather a huge graphite drawing 8 ft. x 4.4 ft., a pretty amazing drawing.

Read about Chris' life as an artist and learn about the drawing at Here is 90 seconds with Chis LaPorte, a video:

Read a little more here: Democracy comes to the art world

Yes, I am telling you about this because Chris has lived your life, but also because maybe, just maybe, you'll start thinking really big about where you are going with your art next...I can't wait to see it.

Views: 357

Comment by Nels Johnson on October 13, 2010 at 10:04pm
God bless Connie, lucky for him. Examine the art work, there was nothing uncommon or great about what he did, i would almost call it dreck! Give me a break, you give a big award for this, who are you kidding! i love the the concept of the award, but both years have been pitiful results. give me a break, you think this was the best piece entered, somebody must sti8ll be tripping on mushrooms.
Comment by Connie Mettler on October 13, 2010 at 10:12pm
Well, Nels, that is why I included the link about Democracy in the art world...and I read some of the other commentary -- about the concept in general, which we all have to agree is very cool, the awards...well, there is no accounting for what the "little guy" will choose...and even Rick DeVos said there was some very bad art exhibited, but at least it got people thinking and talking about art. Next year I'll meet you in Grand Rapids.
Comment by Willie McTell on October 13, 2010 at 10:19pm
well if you are looking for popular votes (and this was) how could you do better than a man in a uniform? maybe a picture of jesus?
Comment by Nels Johnson on October 13, 2010 at 10:26pm
You are 100% right, it is all about popular vote, so yu know were is going to go.
Comment by Nels Johnson on October 13, 2010 at 10:29pm
Connie, if we meet i grand rapids, it will have to be a bad weekend for me, there are no good art shows there.
Comment by Nels Johnson on October 13, 2010 at 10:36pm
Please give e a break, i have watched this event two years in a row, this has nothing to do about art--this is a populairity event . This really has nothing to do about art, unless you look at it from the popular vote side of things, llke American Idol. This has nothing to do about art. It is a big happening,, It gives rick de vos great coverage, but it does nothing to advance the state of art.i
Comment by Nels Johnson on October 13, 2010 at 10:40pm
please forgive my numerous misspellings, but I think you get my point. $250,000 is a nce prize, but it doesn't necessarily encourgent fine art, That was m point.
Comment by Nels Johnson on October 13, 2010 at 10:48pm
Geez Louise! I think I have had too many. i can't get anything right, I m lucky to be alive and talking, barely, Nels.
Comment by Melanie Rolfes on October 13, 2010 at 11:22pm
Nels, tell us how you really feel about this?
Comment by Fran Hurst on October 14, 2010 at 9:29am
Saw him several times over the summer.....drawing his caricatures. Sure didn't put his life on hold while creating this 800hr drawing. I'm very happy for him. Now I wish I had made the trip over to Grand Rapids to view the artwork.


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