With ArtPrize almost over, long live ArtPrize!
But before I say so long to the open forum event, I wish to share three observations and a closing comment on the historic ArtPrize event.
First, the conversation about art that ArtPrize had hoped to reboot did indeed happen. But just like a computer, a reboot does not always mean we fixed the problem.
Not since Mapplethorpe or Serrano can I remember a time when so much dialogue was produced around the topic of art. I am grateful, but I know it was virgin territory for all us who participated in this social experiment. It will take some time for a clear vision to emerge about what really happened over the past few weeks.
What I am left with from the critical discourse, cocktail conversations and the biting public pulse comments among the artist, the arts educator and the voting public is a sense of uncertainty that comes when no sure footing or answer has been found. The water is murky, unclear.
But if the world was watching, I fear what it must be thinking about our community as we reopened old wounds about art.
ArtPrize is indeed radically different than anything that has come before it, and maybe in the weeks to come, all of us will help it come to a conclusion. At the core has always been education. But in the end, did we learn anything, really listen to each other?
Second, art cannot be experienced at a gallop -- especially the impressive amount on display during ArtPrize -- since the creation of art often takes a lifetime of experience to form a single piece. Art is created over time with much study to the craft and thereby should not be viewed simply as a gimmick for the sake of the gimmick. The burden rests on the artist and the public.
Too much of art history is a part of our collective history to not be cast off like a discarded candy wrapper once we have sampled its essence. Art travels through time to get to a physical space, dare to ask questions. And just as we ask of the public, artists owe each other the mutual respect of space to let the dialogue work its magic. Conversation should be meaty, digested by all parties who partake in the offering.
And third, I loved how valuable the wristbands became for those who attended ArtPrize as they were able to secure discounts in the arts and area businesses. In a culture of massive cut backs, I encourage arts leaders and neighborhood businesses to find more incentives to use these bracelets in coming months to entice the public that has shown some interest in the cultural experience.
By keeping the public and the arts community talking, we will be able to successfully create the bond ArtPrize sought to create this year. We will no longer need bands around our wrist to keep people returning to the city and experience the arts because the connection will be real and the value woven into the fabric of our lives.
In closing, I want to share my Ah-Ha Moment from ArtPrize, 1.0.
Everything I wished for came true but for next year I strongly want to encourage a critic's choice award.
By having the Public and the Critic Awards side by side at the end much like the film festival that ArtPrize's team claim to have based their event around, we will have the opportunity at the closing to bookend the event with a discussion on the choices and their meaning.
This final discussion format is not to pit the two worlds against each other but to give both worlds equal weight in this wonderful event. Art (and Artists) not only need the critique from the critic but it needs the public as well. All agree the bumping up of the education portion of this event will make it soar.
Most of all, thank you to all the artists who contributed to the conversation. Without you, none of this would have been possible. No matter how big or small your work was in this event, it was a part of the conversation.
Choose Art…and often.
Tommy Allen, Lifestyle Editor
Twitter Tour Guide: @TommyGSync
Photo provided by Terry Johnston
Press Releases for upcoming events in the West Michigan area should be sent to TommyRapidG@gmail.com
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