Art Prize 2011 – Incredible Art, Amazing $449,000.00 in Prizes!

The 2011 Art Prize Winner - Crucifixion by Mia Tavonatti from Santa Ana,

Artists from all over have descended on Grand Rapids, Michigan and transformed it into what is, perhaps, the largest art studio/contest venue in the country (I will let the statisticians make calls on that.) In the wake of the artists came swarms of tourists filling the sidewalks, parking lots, courtyards, and other venues for the display of the artwork. The Art Prize concept is a work of artistic/social/economic creativity in itself. It is open to anyone who can find somewhere in the city of Grand Rapids that will let them put up their art, indoors or out.

The best display areas are highly sought after but if you have a friend in town that will let you tack up your work on the back wall of their Grand Rapids outhouse* you can enter Art Prize.

Weave Me the Sunshine - A mini forrest made of plastic bottles by Dale Wayne

Many of the Art Prize participants use found materials, recycled materials, or other green friendly materials to create their artwork.

Dumpster Diver by Terry Brennan of Little River, SC

One of my favorites of the Eco Friendly genre is the humorously trashy, aquatic themed Dumpster Diver

Tracy VanDuinen and his work Metaphorest - Second Place ($100,000 prize) winner


Speaking of my favorite, I really like the Kick Starter concept for funding projects (I have backed a few projects!) and several of the Art Prize competitors were funded via Kick Starter including one of the top ten. Tracy Van Duinen of Chicago, Illinois and his team raised over $15,000 via kickstarter to fund their amazing wall mural/sculpture, “MetaPhorest.” “MetaPhorest” is one of the top ten and I had the pleasure of interviewing Tracy the night before the announcement of the final winners.


Robert Shangle is - Under Construction - with his son, Jasper Shangle

Sunti Pichetchaiyakul's beautiful entry - President Gerald Ford Visits ArtPrizeRobert Shangle is - Under Construction - with his son, Jasper Shangle









I also interviewed two other of the Art Prize top ten, Sunti Pichetchaiyakul of Montana, and Robert Shangle of Sparta, Michigan.

They say it isn’t about the money, but $449,000 is a lot of money for an art competition. Even moreso, the tourist money that it brings to the area gives Grand Rapids an artistically beautiful economic boost.

This evening I went by the De Vos Hall where they were having the awards ceremony and checked in with security.  They sent me to where other members of local press were in a room gathered around a television.  Some were raptly watching the monitor and others were pointing cameras at it.  They were so engrossed anticipating the conclusion that was soon to come that I doubt they even noticed my visit.

I have to admit I hadn’t been to concerned about the awards ceremony and had wandered a bit before heading over so it was more than half over by the time I got there and when I looked at the situation that they were giving the press I had to walk away as it seemed appallingly contrary to my artistic sense.

De Vos Hall

Rumor has it that the De Vos family were there in the De Vos Hall for the ceremony and that their Bently was parked and waiting for them and that if I found the car and waited around I might be able to get a picture of them.

I actually thought about it and sat there for a minute, took a few pics, then said to myself, “This is stupid.”  When it comes down to it, people who read on my site are from all over the world (after shooting pics and doing a little interview of an 18 year old from mainland China after she won a singing contest in a convention at the Gaylord Resort in Washington DC earlier this year I have been getting around 500 unique visitors/month just from China.)

Most of the folks who visit have never heard of Grand Rapids or Art Prize except through this site and really won’t care about the awards ceremony or have any clue about the De Vos family unless they think the De Vos family sells Amway.

So I contemplated what you, dear reader, would actually care about and I decided to wander off and take pics of the riverfront around the corner and then went home to get this online.  Please do, dear reader, let me know if I guessed right or if you would have preferred photos of television screens and a couple and their security guards as they walked to their Bently.  Oh, and if there are readers who are saying to themselves that they really were in the mood for an awards ceremony, check out the awards ceremony I shot this past Sunday in Hollywood, California.

Below is another sampling of photos but for more photos go to my 2011 Art Prize Photo Album.

*Editor’s Note – I don’t know of any outhouses in the City of Grand Rapids!
Author’s Note – Neither do I but that’s not the point! If someone has one you could do it.
Editor – True but why bring it up if there aren’t any?
Author – An outhouse can’t be that expensive. Someone could build one for Art Prize.
Editor – Oh please no! I can just see next year’s Art Prize having outhouses all over the city as shrines to the art.
Author – Why are you hassling me? It was just a silly thought!
Editor – It’s called Jet Lag from the flight back from the film festival in Hollywood last weekend. I’m you, remember? Author – Oh yeah… I need more sleep. X-)





About the author

Weird AKA John Collins

John N. Collins is a writer, photographer, game & coloring book designer and a bad dancer. Any resemblance to the King John character is merely a coincidence. Follow John N. Collins: YouTube Facebook Fan Page Facebook Personal Account Instagram Twitter