GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The public chose “A. Lincoln” as its ArtPrize Nine grand prize winner, earning artist Richard Schlatter of Battle Creek $200,000.
“Wow. I’m stunned. Not bad for a 73-year-old guy that spent three months on a ladder,” Schlatter said after he was announced as the grand prize winner Friday night.
It took Schlatter 465 hours over about four months to put together the 96-square-foot portrait of our 16th president comprised of 24,000 pennies.
“I didn’t expect (to win), but yet there was a little voice in the back of my mind that said, ‘Just maybe you might,'” Schlatter said after the awards show.
Schlatter thanked Battle Creek residents who came to Grand Rapids to support him; Dare Products in Battle Creek, which allowed him space in its factory to create his piece; his family; and Paul Hendricks of Creston Industrial Sales for engineering the installation of “A. Lincoln” at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.
“To everyone who voted, I appreciate it,” Schlatter said in his acceptance speech. . “And especially all the school kids that came through. I tried to interact with every one of them, as many as I could, and give out autographs. But more importantly, I tried teach them about Lincoln. Especially today, I think we need the message of Lincoln. And he was one of the greatest presidents, if not the greatest president we ever had. So this is to Abe.”
The HeARTside Community Meal by Seitu Jones of St. Paul, Minn. won the $200,000 ArtPrize Nine juried grand prize.
“Well, first of all, I’m going to take a little longer than 15 seconds,” a beaming Jones said to laughter from the crowd gathered for the ArtPrize Nine Awards Ceremony. “I’m honored and flattered and really overwhelmed.”
Jones thanked his wife, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids and those who helped him work out the logistics of the piece.
The piece was a time-based entry in which more than 250 people gathered at Grand Rapids’ Heartside Park Sept. 23 for a “healthy, locally-grown meal.”
“I wanted to create an experience, an art experience, for folks here in Grand Rapids in general and people in Heartside community in particular, that focused on issues of food justice and food access,” Jones explained to 24 Hour News 8. “This was like birthing a baby in a way. I was here for nine months before the community meal happened.”
He said the meal was an opportunity for an “over the table conversation right here in Grand Rapids.
“There are so many other conversations that need to continue,” he said during his acceptance speech. “This is just the beginning of what hopefully will be other conversations that we have across lines of race and class.”
Both Schlatter and Jones seemed stunned by their wins.
“When I heard my name, I couldn’t believe it,” Jones told 24 Hour News 8 Friday night.
“I’m still kind of on cloud nine,” Schlatter said. “Maybe reality will set in tomorrow. I’m just right now trying to soak it all in.”
He said he’s got another idea for a piece in mind, but expects it will take him a couple of years.
“It won’t be coins, though. I’m done with climbing on ladders,” he joked.
Voters and jurors also awarded several $10,00 category awards at the ceremony held at 20 Monroe Live in downtown Grand Rapids Friday night.
Juried Award winner: “Sofía Draws Every Day: Years 2, 3, and 4” by Sofía Ramírez Hernández of Grand Rapids, Mich.
Public Vote winner: “A. Lincoln” by Richard Schlatter of Battle Creek, Mich.
Juried Award winner: Flint by Ti-Rock Moore of New Orleans
Public Vote winner: Lux Maximus Fused Glass, Copper, Bronze and Metal by Daniel Oropeza of Costa Mesa, Calif. Oropeza also won the $2,500 Artista Latino Award.
Flint was one of many ArtPrize entries that dealt with social issues or politics, and Executive Director Christian Gaines said that’s part of what makes the competition great.
“I think when people say politics, I think what you’re really seeing is artists struggling and coping with issues of identity and belonging in the world that we live in today,” Gaines said. “And so I think there has been a lot of that at ArtPrize. My thing about ArtPrize is it would be a shame if there weren’t artists who didn’t have this as a platform to be able to express themselves.”
Juried Award and Public Vote winner: Red Dirt Rug Monument by Rena Detrixhe of Tulsa, Okla.
Juried Award winner: Society of 23’s Locker Dressing Room by Jeffrey Augustine Songco of Grand Rapids, Mich.
Public Award winner: Oil+Water by Ryan Spencer Reed of Ludington, Mich.
Juried Award winner: The Fed Galleries @ KCAD, Kendall College of Art and Design
Some 900 people attended the Awards Ceremony. The show included jokes, music, dancing and a spoken word performance by a Final 20 artist. WOOD TV8 also hosted a watch party at Rosa Parks Circle and the show streamed live on woodtv.com. 20 Monroe Live also hosted an after-party.
>>App users: Watch the complete awards ceremony
Some 384,053 votes were cast during ArtPrize Nine.
“This was the year where we had a big heatwave in the first week of the event, which kind of throttled attendance for a while, but we surged ahead in the least couple of weeks of the event, and we’re actually about 4,000 votes ahead of where we were last year, which is a good metric for success,” Gaines, ArtPrize’s executive director, told 24 Hour News 8.
You can still see the winners and all of the other nearly 1,350 entries in ArtPrize Nine. Venues will be open noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, when the event closes.