for the ArtPrize
Two dozen local artists seek their fortune in Grand Rapids contest
By Al Parker 9/21/09
Traverse City artist Eric Daigh shoves the last of 23,625 push pins into place, then stands back to examine his four x six-foot portrait with a critical eye.
Im entering three portraits, he tells a visitor. Each will be made in five colors of pushpins white, black, red, blue and yellow. Once completed, they will be tied (with each other) for the Largest Pushpin Mosaic in the World in the Guinness Book of World Records. I currently hold that record, but will be beating my own record.
Daigh is one of some two dozen Northern Michigan artists entered in ArtPrize, an unprecedented competition that will award nearly $500,000 to prize winners, including $250,000 to the artist who receives the most public votes.
The event begins Sept. 23 and runs through Oct. 10 in Grand Rapids. ArtPrize will have no formal jury, curator or judge. The viewing public will decide who wins the prizes by voting, using mobile devices and the web. ArtPrize has attracted 1,262 artists from almost every state and many countries, including Italy, Sweden, England, Israel, Mexico and Canada. Its expected to draw art enthusiasts from across the globe.
Working in a rare medium, Daigh creates stunningly-realistic faces that greet viewers and challenge their perceptions. Its only upon closer inspection that onlookers see the works of thousands of pushpins strategically placed to capture the shadows and shimmers that form the lifelike portraitures.
Its been my experience that my work plays well on the pedestrian, says Daigh, who recently sold three push pin portraits to Ripleys Believe It or Not Entertainment for their permanent collection. The average passer-by seems drawn into my portraits, and I thought that might play well in this sort of contest If I can get someone to spend two minutes looking at a photo of a human being, Im happy. If I can pay off my house to boot, well
Another Traverse City artist, Tim Sebright, is entering Sometimes I Act Like Myself, a watercolor painting of a girl dancing to the sounds of a victrola as birds spin gently on their strings.
Midway through this particular painting, I felt that I was finally able to get the look Id been after for the last few years, and that Id reached a new level in my painting, explains Sebright, whos been painting for four years. It was this painting that gave me the confidence to go public with my work. I felt, therefore, that it was appropriate that I enter this piece in ArtPrize.
Leland artist Brenda J. Clarks entry is DH Days Awe, a large-scale landscape acrylic on canvas of the DH Day farm, located across from the dune climb in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
It was painted predominately on location over many sessions outside, on-site, explains Clark, who operates her own gallery in Leland. The painting itself offers a foreboding presence when viewed. The painting is as much about the paint as the location. It demands your attention, interaction and emotion.
FACES OF CONTROVERSY
Kalkaska artist Brad Davis sees ArtPrize as a great opportunity to showcase his art and possibly win some cash while doing so.
My entry is titled Faces of Controversy and is made up of four portraits painted in oils and one done in water color, says Davis, a full-time freelance illustrator who graduated from the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. The subjects include Michael Jackson, Eminem, Kim Jong Il, a face constructed of war imagery and a close-up of a mans face with the reflection of the World Trade Centers in his eyes.
Holly Mellinger, of Traverse City, submitted Drink, an oil painting that she created in January of this year. Currently a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Mellinger sees all of her art work as an overflow of her relationship with Jesus.
I was singing the song The More I Seek You one day and I had a vision of a girl drinking from a bowl of light, she says. The verse that correlates with the image is I want to sit at your feet and drink from the cup in your hands. It is symbolic of being fed by God himself.
Onekama sculptor Les Scruggs is offering Dervish, a huge entry for the competition. Its a piece of black walnut (approximately 12-feet long by five-feet high by three-feet deep) sitting on a painted base.
The sculpture is from one piece of wood although no one believes it, he says. It is basically abstract expressionism presenting an alternative to the rectilinear grids of our lives.
Scruggs usually doesnt enter contests, but friends near Grand Rapids told him about ArtPrize and he was intrigued. My greed got the better part of my good sense, I guess, he adds with a chuckle.
ALL TOGETHER NOW
Its time to reboot the conversation between artists and the public. ArtPrize will be a celebration of art, design, and innovation that will bring artists and the public together like never before, said the events creator Rick DeVos.
Grand Rapids will become an art gallery with ArtPrize art works and performances exhibited at hundreds of venues, all within a three-square mile area in the citys downtown riverfront district. The city has offered up parks and bridges for outdoor venue displays. Scores of businesses will provide lobbies and public space for displays.
It is increasingly important to find new ways to engage people, especially young people, in the arts, said Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. ArtPrize is a dynamic and creative way to use technology to engage people of all ages.
For more information about ArtPrize, go to artprize.org.
Northern Michigan Artists at
Anna Browning, Sault St. Marie
J. Cattani, Frankfort
Brenda J. Clark, Leland
Sam Cronkhite, Cadillac
Eric Daigh, Traverse City
Brad Davis, Kalkaska
Morgan Fisher, Glen Arbor
Larry Fox, Omena
Michael Fry, Big Rapids
Larry Gilbert, Sault St. Marie
Douglas Gruizenga, Interlochen
Dan Heffron, Traverse City
Matthew Paul Isaacson, Traverse City
Sarah Mann, Petoskey
Holly Mellinger, Traverse City
Karen Mendes, Mackinac Island
Karen Mitchell, Sault St. Marie
Leslie Scruggs, Onekema
Tim Sebright, Traverse City
Charles St. Charles, Cadillac
Shelley Newman Stevens, Mt. Pleasant
Kevin Summer, Traverse City
Robert Thomas, Frankfort
Beth Thompson, Cadillac
Charles Thompson, Cadillac
Dave Vande Vusse, Manistee
Al Wildey, Mt. Pleasant