For me to call this year’s ArtPrize a “mixed bag” would be a bit of an understatement. Prior to the event I authored a professional blog post that examined the unique, dyadic nature of the event, an appeal partially aimed at those from the high art world. Let me be clear that I still stand by these ideas when looking at the event as a whole. At the same time, I feel that some of the magic of the event that was present in early years has disappeared.
An unfortunate trend that many yearly ArtPrize goers have noticed is a a gradual decline in outdoor artwork. The Grand River, for example, has been noticeably devoid of sizable work, and the parking lot outside the B.O.B., once a high trafficked art viewing location, is now home to a packed mass of food trucks. Even more frustrating, particularly to a regular participant, is that winners tend to be concentrated to one or two large venues in the city. Of 162 venues, 30% of public vote winners were in a single location this year.
For ArtPrize to continue to be a successful “open playing field where anyone can find a voice in the conversation about what is art and why it matters,” (artprize.org) its proprietors will need to do some serious thinking – I have no doubt in my mind that the creative talent behind the event is capable of doing this, but I am not so certain if they are interested. Hopefully they are.
My personal experience as an artist in the event proved to be a bit complicated to say the least. On one hand, the first weekend of the event was undoubtedly my most rewarding exhibition experience, with large groups of people enthusiastically interacting with “Auralwood” (see photos below!) On the other hand, the wind on the second weekend put things to an end prematurely. I learned a number of difficult lessons this past month, most notably one regarding the structural integrity of aluminum!
Still, despite criticisms of the event and technical complications, it is a privilege to have been a part of ArtPrize 7.