Penny portrait of Lincoln gets the big win at ArtPrize

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Artist Richard Schlatter turned 24,000 pennies into a $200,000 award by winning this year’s Public Vote Grand Prize at Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize.

The international art competition kicked off last month in downtown Grand Rapids and runs through Sunday. Now in its ninth year, ArtPrize attracted more than 1,300 artists. Schlatter, of Battle Creek, and other winners were announced Friday.

“The public has chosen work that is large scale, iconic and familiar, and one that reflects qualities that are widely admired — patience, skill and considerable labor,” said ArtPrize executive director Christian Gaines of Schlatter’s “A. Lincoln” in a statement.

“Though this work depicts an image we’ve seen before in myriad ways, when we see it at this epic scale, we’re invited to stop and reflect on our 16th president who set in motion the abolition of slavery in the United States.”

Seitu Jones of St. Paul, Minnesota, won the Jurors’ Grand Prize for “The HeARTside Community Meal” in the time-based category. He brought together 250 community members for a healthy, locally-grown meal at a 300-foot-long table.

Seitu Jones of St. Paul, Minnesota, was honored with the Jurors’ Grand Prize of $200,000 for his piece “The HeARTside Community Meal” in the time-based category. Last month 250 neighbors were invited to eat a healthy, locally-grown meal at a 300-foot long table in Grand Rapids’ Heartside Park.

“A. Lincoln,” made by using pennies from 1909 to 2017, also won the public vote for two-dimensional piece. That category’s juried award went to “Sofia Draws Every Day: Years 2, 3 and 4” by Sofia Ramírez Hernández of Grand Rapids.

“Lux Maxi­mus,” by Daniel Oropeza, fuses glass, copper, bronze and metal.

In the three-dimensional category, “Lux Maximus,” a large illuminated sculpture of a horse made of glass, copper, bronze and metal by Daniel Oropeza of California won the public vote. “Flint,” a water fountain with the sign “colored” on it depicting brown water, most impressed the judges. Speaking to the water crisis in Flint, this work was created by Ti-Rock Moore of New Orleans.

“Flint,” which addresses the water crisis in Flint, was created by Ti-Rock Moore and won in the juried three-dimensional category.

For only the second time in ArtPrize’s history, the public and the judges agreed on the most worthy art piece in the time-based category: “Red Dirt Rug Monument” from Rena Detrixhe of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Requiring 200 gallons of sifted earth, hundreds of soles of shoes and 200 hours of labor, Detrixhe said the piece embodies the history of human’s relationship to nature.

“Red Dirt Rug Monument” by Rena Detrixhe won in the public and juried time-based category.

Ryan Spencer Reed of Ludington and his “Oil+Water” won the public vote for art installation. Grand Rapids’ own Jeffrey Augustine Songco and his “Society of 23’s Locker Dressing Room” earned the juried vote in that category.

Ryan Spencer’s “Oil+Water” won for art installation.

The Outstanding Venue Juried Award went to the Fed Galleries at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids.

For a full list of winners, visit

Twitter: @melodybaetens