Thursday, October 7, 2010

ArtPrize 2010

I haven't written anything about ArtPrize yet this year, so I figured it was about time. They are supposed to announce the winner later today. That also means it will be wrapping up this week.

If you don't know what ArtPrize is, a quick synopsis. An art competition judged by the public with a top prize of $249,000. While the public judges, there are rules and procedures in place to prevent someone from rigging the vote. In response to complaints from last year, there is also a set of juried awards, where the work is judged by professional artists. This year, over 1,700 artists displayed work in a 3 square mile area downtown.

I attended a talk given by the director of ArtPrize just before it opened. He had some interesting things to say about it.

1. Simple = Complex. Sometimes the simplest things say the most complex things, and have the greatest meaning.

2. Art = Community. In an effort to differentiate cities and communities, city leaders all over the country are supporting the arts. Areas of the city are being turned into art specific neighborhoods. Surprisingly these areas are well attended and money makers as a whole. They also are a key part of "Cool Cities" initiative.

3. Idea = Action. A lot of people have ideas. They don't become reality until people take action on those ideas. A simple thought that a lot of people don't pay attention to.

4. Fun = Growth. One way for an organism to grow, whether it is a person or a region is to have fun. Whimsy, while it may be frowned on by some, is a way to get and keep a persons attention. Most people are more willing to participate in a fun activity than the opposite.

5. You = Creator. Anyone is a creator. Art is not for the professionals, nor should judging what is good art be left to them. Art is part of growing up, most kids start drawing early on in life. It's only later that society tells them that they need to be serious.

The ArtPrize organization only does high level planning. They register artists and venues, but it is up to the two to get together to display the work. They depend on volunteers to help run the event. They also try to find enough donors and funds to pay the prizes.

Most of all the event was about conversation. The founder and the director had travelled to a lot of art events around the country, and they got the most out of it when they just talked to the people around them. That was what they were trying to bring to the community.

While there are some problems with the event, I think they have accomplished the goal. The downtown area has been packed over the last 3 weeks, the merchants are open late and making money, and most of all, everyone is getting a better look at the city. A lot of people I know don't like downtown, because they still think of it as the abandoned, lonely hulk of two decades ago. It's not. Events like this help change that perception and is probably the biggest win of the event.

I may have not remembered the exact meaning of the bullet points above, but hopefully I didn't mangle them up too much. Kudos to the ArtPrize folks, and I can hardly wait until next year.

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