Friday, September 23, 2016

ArtPrize 2016: Pieces To Watch (Or Not)

Copyright © Edward Riojas

I get hopeful every year that ArtPrize comes around. No, not that I’ll win the big prize. Neither do I put much hope in selling my piece, although that would be splendid. What I do hope is that this year will be much better than the last; that entries worthy of praise will actually get praise; that thoughtful, well-executed pieces will rise above the mundane and pedestrian and hideous.

For the uninitiated, ArtPrize is the largest open art competition in the world. Its prize purse dwarfs all other art competitions across the globe. As a competition, it’s still wearing diapers, and as such it can be as beautiful or stinky as can be. For a more in-depth explanation of the contest, you might consider one of my posts from a previous year. Suffice it to say, it’s hard to ignore the scope of this extravaganza.

I will try to refrain from my usual harsh diatribes about which [stupid] piece is getting the most votes, or which [anal-retentive] venue is promoting what [ghastly] piece. I simply won’t do it. What I will do, instead, is give you a sampling of this year’s pieces to watch. They won’t necessarily be anywhere on my list of favorites. They might not be prize-winning material, but they all have an ingredient or two that makes them “different.”

Pieces to watch (or not)
“A Walk in the Woods” by Armin Mersmann, showing at DeVos Place Convention Center.
This large drawing of a gnarled tree has the ingredients – size and massive amounts of labor – necessary to win a prize. Never mind the fact that the tree itself is in serious need of a chainsaw manicure.

“These Days of Maiuma” by Robert ParkeHarrison, showing at the GRAM
I only picked this one because it shows the state of the arts – and that saddens me. The artist’s statement is unending ramble of verbal vomit, which apparently justifies the large, but irrelevant, photo of a pile of crap.

“Wars and Rumors of Wars” by Eric Dickson, showing at the UICA.
Installations like this intrigue me, but the sound and video systems must be spot-on to make it work. I have a feeling it will be far more creepy than eye-opening, which might be a plus for the subject.
“One Thousand Shacks”
Tracy Snelling.

“One Thousand Shacks” by Tracy Snelling, showing at the UICA.
Scale is so important for sculptural pieces. This one will make an impression on viewers. Plus, the artist didn’t skimp on detail. Its only downfall is that strong visual interest might detract from any intended social statement.

“250 prepared ac-motors, 325kg roof laths, 1.0km rope” by Zimoun, hosted by SiTE:LAB’s Rumsey St. Project.
Finally! SiTE:LAB has sorely disappointed me for years by bending rules to the breaking point and then showing little for their efforts, but this particular entry looks fantastic. Yes it’s weird, but what’s not to like about all that electrical/mechanical stuff doing its “thing” within the confines of elegant simplicity?

“Wounded Warrior Dogs” by James Mellick, showing at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.
Sculpturally, a standing dog looking straight ahead is as boring as H-E-hockey sticks, but never mind basic principals of art. This entry pulls at the right heartstrings – wounded dogs, American heroes and fine woodworking. Just watch the votes pile up for Fido.

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