Ann and Steven Loveless spent more 1,000 hours combining photographic print, fabrics and textiles to create an art piece that depicts a familiar scene near their northern Michigan home: pristine woodlands emerging from winter.
So many ArtPrize visitors loved the Frankfort-based married couple’s “Northwood Awakening,” it was named Friday as the $200,000 Public Vote Grand Prize winner of the 19-day public exhibit in Grand Rapids.
It was Ann Loveless’ second time winning the top honor at the international art competition in the last three years. She took the public vote’s grand prize in 2013 for “Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore.”
“We’re very happy,” she said Friday night. “We feel like our piece was very different and it really resonated with the public and they loved it.”
The ArtPrize winners were revealed Friday night at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. Some 1,550 entries representing 48 countries as well as 42 U.S. states and territories vied for awards, organizers said.
The other $200,000 grand prize, awarded through a jury of art experts, went to “Higher Ground” by New York-based artist Kate Gilmore.
Since Sept. 23, 35,481 visitors cast 422,763 votes in two public voting rounds, beating last year’s totals by more than 24,000, ArtPrize officials said Friday.
ArtPrize officials described “Northwood Awakening” as “a large photographic print and quilt hybrid, depicting a serene woodland panorama, that seamlessly blends the combined textile and photo skills of Loveless PhotoFiber.” Ann Loveless said the piece was inspired by spring, “rebirth and everything coming up after a long winter slumber.”
The work, displayed at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, also was listed atop the Two-Dimensional category entries.
“Once again, reverence for technical skill in two-dimensional work — this time in a stunning combination of large-scale photography and intricate textile — has captured the imagination of the voting public,” ArtPrize Executive Director Christian Gaines said in a statement. “It’s a surprising and unexpected twist to have ‘Northwood Awakening’ represent our first ever two-time public vote winner. We’re stunned and delighted, but we’re also reflecting on how this affects ArtPrize going forward.”
Ann Loveless said she was “amazed” to take the top prize twice.
“I feel like I’m really blessed with talent and I think I need to share them with other people,” she said. “I’m kind of brainstorming how I can maybe give back a little bit because I’ve been given so much.”
The competition served as a creative springboard, her husband said.
“It’s tremendous that it can bring together such a diversity of artists and a very large audience,” Steven Loveless said. “It really helps artists grow so much as an artist, just because of those relationships that you build with how so many people see your art.”
Other public vote winners, who each received $12,500, were: “Greatest Generation/Beta Team/November” by Fred Cogelow of Willmar, Minnesota, in the Three-Dimensional category; “REACH and SPLASH” by Andy Sacksteder of Port Clinton, Ohio, in the Installation category; and “Whisper,” by Emily Kennerk of Zionsville, Indiana, in the Time-based category.
The juried awards also were announced Friday. Gilmore won the Juried Grand Prize for a transformational performance juror Dan Cameron called “really kind of magical in a way that we’ve maybe lost sight of.”
To present her piece, Gilmore worked with the SiTE:LAB outfit, which converted an entire city block into a temporary arts district. At a house on Rumsey Street that once was a convent, women wearing white dresses and red shoes continually glided on swings near open windows. The exterior was painted pink, while bright lights illuminated the interior.
The inspiration, Gilmore said Friday night, “was thinking a lot about these nuns and a lot about their experience in the home and the community — just trying to figure out where their kind of body fit into this space.”
She said ArtPrize was not only rewarding financially, but offered her a new way to connect.
“In one sense, it’s great that it’s making people look at art and it’s making it exciting for people,” she said.