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Art Prize: Over and Out for 2012


 Yes, Art Prize, the art extravaganza 2012 that overwhelms Grand Rapids for about three weeks in the fall is over for another year.  The winners announced.  Congratulations extended.  Muttering…muttering….muttering.  Hip Hip Hooray.

I like it all.  The conversation is healthy and positive and promotes an exciting vibrant community.  Nothing dull about Us-in-the-Middle of America.  Take that Art Snobs.

I’m also very happy with the change in the Art Prize system so that art is juried and the prizes for juried winners are bigger than before.  A total of $560,000 is given out.  This year there were 1,517 entries in 161 venues.    It was interesting to see that a couple of pieces made both top ten lists.


I’m personally thrilled long time friend Frits Hoendervanger took third place with his incredibly detailed and skillful painting.  Yes, a painting.  For all those who say, “painting is dead” in their snotty, art know-it-all-way,  look at this .  He did a wonderful job and we’re thrilled he is recognized.   (And darn, I wish I had bought one of his pieces, when I knew him in the 1980s when we worked at the Press together.)

There are lots of odd things about ArtPrize though.  Strange animals.  Weird materials.  Happenings that one can’t quite figure out.  For example, one could see art made from piles of old jeans. I’ve always wondered what to do with them. Really. It is amazing what people  create and call art.


The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel hosted a strange sculpture made from wine bottles and corks.  Hate to be snarky,  but I do think someone dreamed that one up after drinking a lot of wine.  Oh well. I’ll bet it was fun to make.

What really puzzled me were the number of entries that related to motorcycles. What’s the deal?  I think there’s enough to start a motorcycle art museum.   I even spotted a family made of motor cycle parts.









Don’t forget the cars!   Tired of painting on canvas?  Well, paint your car.  Hemingway called his last work about Paris, “A Moveable Feast.”  We have “Moveable Art” here in Grand Rapids.








My four and a half year old grand daughter liked the hearts.  We traipsed about looking for them and at them.  I imagine our kitchen table craft sessions are going to involve hearts for a while  and that’s just dandy with me.


A couple of my favorites include “Song of Lift” at UICA and the “Stick-to-it-ive-ness” horses  in the water in front of the Grand Rapids Public Museum.  Actually I hope that Meijer Gardens buys them and adds to the horse theme they’ve got going out in the Sculpture Park.  I think there’s a couple of ponds where they’d look right at home.  And the Penguin Project kept my grand daughter’s attention for the longest of our morning’s tour.  Happy little critters.  Made me happy too.

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Georgia Gietzen
    Oct 9, 2012 Reply

    Nice piece – the penguins make me smile.

  2. posted by
    Cindy Schad
    Oct 9, 2012 Reply

    Love your thoughts on Art Prize!

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