Artists relishing new prize format at ArtPrize

ArtPrize

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The return of ArtPrize is giving artists an opportunity to display their talents. This year it is also providing artists with a greater chance of winning prize money compared to past editions. 

Around 500 artists will win cash prizes ranging from $250 to $1,500. Previously ArtPrize would hand out cash prizes to a select few artists. 

“That’s one thing I like,” says photographer Tom Gifford. “You have something to work for, not all or nothing kind of thing, you actually get an award.” 

The Muskegon native’s ArtPrize entry is called Homes, on display outside of Biggby Coffee at the Monroe Center.

“This is five photos of each of one of the Great Lakes,” Gifford said. “Each photo taken at each of the Great Lakes.”

Gifford drove to each one of the lakes over the course of three years to take pictures before settling on the five photos he wanted to use for his entry. 

“After that I had to cut out the shape of it and do all the detail work at the edges,” Gifford said. “Took a lot of time, but it was worth it. Worth it to see people all out here enjoying it, taking pictures.”

There was a large crowd of people on Saturday afternoon looking at his entry. 

“People talk about where they used to live or connections they have with each of the Great Lakes,” Gifford said. “Great talking and hearing everyone’s story.”

People checking out the entries can help the artists win money by scanning QR codes with their cellphones at various ArtPrize venues. They will then receive a prize, some monetary. Visitors then award the prize to an artist. 

Gifford was the recipient of a $1,000 prize. 

“One thousand dollars, I’m excited,” Gifford said. 

The new prize format is music to the ears of musician Tom Wall. 

“It’s amazing, you put everything you have into this,” Wall said. “You’re trying to make it work and hoping people will at least appreciate this.”

The Fremont native won a $250 prize. His entry is a musical plant garden called Florganoleptic Music, on display outside of the Sundance Bar & Grill on Ottawa Avenue.

“The tree is playing based on its electromagnetic conductivity,” Wall said. “There’s an electrode hooked to roots and electrode hooked up to the leaf, and between the two it measures its electromagnetic impulses and converts that into music.”

Through the first two days of ArtPrize a total of $15,000 have been awarded to 57 artists. 

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