GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A pencil drawing 8 feet tall and 12 feet wide hangs pinned to the wall in Chris LaPorte’s art studio in Grand Rapids. Next to it is another pencil drawing of comparable size.

For many artists, it’s a big challenge to find homes for their work. But as ArtPrize’s only grand prize winner from Grand Rapids, LaPorte has an edge. Both of his massive pieces are already slated to be installed within the next year.

“A 30-foot drawing, there are not many galleries or situations in which that happens. I think it was more about the opportunity than going for a win,” LaPorte said of entering ArtPrize.

But he is extremely aware and appreciative of what his grand prize title has done for him.

“Yeah, I guess there’s some street cred that comes along with that,” he chuckled.

In the last six years, he’s given speeches, made appearances and answered countless questions about “Cavalry,” the pencil drawing that won ArtPrize in 2010. LaPorte said the win even changed his relationship with his father-in-law, opening up conversations they’d never had before.

“Cavalry, American Officers, 1921” won the grand prize during ArtPrize 2010. The seven-panel drawing took 800 hours and 80 pencils to complete.(Photo credit: ArtPrize)

Participating in ArtPrize has been an experience LaPorte will never forget or take for granted, especially since a new rule prevents previous winners from entering the competition — a rule LaPorte respects and even appreciates.

“While I appreciate my connection to ArtPrize, I would like ideally to be recognized as the artist Chris LaPorte as opposed to the ArtPrize winner Chris LaPorte.”

One of the pieces he has worked on since his 2010 win is ‘Icebreakers,’ a pencil drawing of a group of ice house workers from East Grand Rapids in the early 1900s. The work will be displayed at the East Grand Rapids Library. Another is of several nuns who influenced the creation of the Dominican Center at Marywood in Grand Rapids. Once funding is in place, it will be installed at the Marywood facility on Fulton Street in Grand Rapids.

“Cavalry,” meanwhile, can be found at Aquinas College.

—–Online: Chris LaPorte’s websiteArtPrize.orgInside Complete ArtPrize coverage