In only its second year, ArtPrize, held in Grand Rapids, Mich., may hold the prize as the most democratic art show and contest in the U.S. Entries are open to all media – whether photography, sculpture, oil, watercolor or any other medium you can use and arrange so that it’s subjective enough to call art.
This year, local photographer Dan Johnson of Dan Johnson Photography entered a series of canvas wraps printed on LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas coated with LexJet Sunset Satin Coating. Though the Grand Prize was an amazing $250,000, Johnson didn’t expect to win or even place, nor was that his motivation.
“We created an awareness piece for Caregiver Resource Network, a group of businesses that provide resources to caregivers. Our intent was to provide an artistic piece that would be a visual picture of this organization and would get the attention of people who could use their help or could help support the organization,” says Johnson.
Beautiful pieces of photographic art in their own right, the series of photos on canvas did their job and did it well, exposing the thousands who thronged Grand Rapids for ArtPrize to the services provided by the Caregiver Resource Network. Johnson says that almost 500,000 votes were cast during the event, which ran from Sept. 22 through Oct. 10 this year.
“The event is very unique and is gathering tons of attention and momentum. In the art world, it’s unusual to have the general public judge, especially for such a large prize,” says Johnson. “It has taken on another life as a model for urban renewal, especially here in Grand Rapids since hundreds of thousands of people have come through the city to see it.”
This year’s winner was an 18-foot wide pencil sketch called Cavalry. It took the artist around 800 hours to sketch the WWI-era portrait. To find out more, and see all the winners, go to artprize.org.