Ann Loveless, a textile artist from Frankfort, took first place in the popular vote at the fifth annual ArtPrize for her landscape quilt “Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore.”
The Michigan State graduate leaves Grand Rapids $200,000 richer and, not surprisingly, says she’s overwhelmed. “The adrenalin’s running high,” she added, “so I’ll probably have a hard time sleeping tonight.”
ArtPrize, which bills itself as a “radically open” competition, is unique among art festivals in that the visiting public picks the top 10 winners, who collectively bag $360,000 in cash prizes. This year 49,078 people cast votes to pick the 10 from 1,805 artists from 47 countries. Awards totaling $560,000, which include juried prizes, were announced Friday evening in a televised event at the Grand Rapids City Garage.
Second place and $75,000 went to Anni Crouter of Flint for “Polar Expressed,” three paintings of polar bears. Andy Sacksteder of Port Clinton, Ohio, took third place and $50,000 for “Uplifting,” his bronze sculpture of two dancers.
Loveless and Crouter won despite the federal government shutdown. Their works were displayed in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, which closed Tuesday, jeopardizing chances for more votes in the last three days. In panic, the pair enlisted their husbands and reinstalled their pieces outside the museum.
“It’s still outside,” Loveless said of her winning quilt with a laugh, “and we’re supposed to get rain tomorrow.”
The remaining seven finalists in the popular vote each won $5,000. They were Nick Jakubiak of Battle Creek and out-of-staters Paul Baliker, Jason Gamrath, Benjamin Gazsi, Robin Protz, Fraser Smith and Michael Gard.
In addition to the popular vote, an eight-person panel of international art experts awarded six juried prizes totaling $200,000. Carlos Bunga from Barcelona, Spain, took the juried grand prize of $100,000 for “Ecosystem,” a site-specific architectural installation. The other juried winners, each of whom won $20,000, were Kyle Staver, Cooley/Lewis, Shahzia Sikander, J.D. Urban and Greg Bokor, all from states other than Michigan.
ArtPrize launched in 2009, immediately winning worldwide attention and some brickbats for its large cash purse that’s said to be the biggest anywhere and its “American Idol” style of voting.
But founder Rick DeVos has maintained the festival is about generating a conversation, not necessarily picking the best art. .
ArtPrize opened Sept. 18 and closes Sunday.