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Artists signing up for ArtPrize 2011; one tiny change this year

Registration opened this week for artists who want to take part in ArtPrize 2011. The winner of the yearly art competition is decided by the voting public who visit the event in downtown Grand Rapids. This year organizers are noting one change to the competition that could affect the ‘top ten’ pieces during ArtPrize 2012.

Those artists voted into the 'top ten' will have to take the next year off before they can enter into ArtPrize again, as soon as the year after that. So - those who are in the top ten in this fall's contest will have to sit out of ArtPrize 2012.

ArtPrize spokesman Brian Burch says ArtPrize is all about starting conversations about art. He says most of that conversation tends to revolve around the top ten pieces.

“What we wanted to do was really position ArtPrize to stay as an ongoing conversation about new ideas and not become a conversation about whether or not an artist is a returning champion.”

Each artist who makes the top ten receives a cash prize. The winner takes home a quarter of a million dollars.

Grand Rapids artist Thomas Birks along with a team of people, made it into the top ten in both ArtPrize 2009 and 2010. Birks says, to him, the change is not a big deal.

“If we need to take a break because we get in the top ten again, then we’ll take a break. We said that last year, look how that worked out! We said we were going to take a break and we didn’t.”

Birks nudges one of his teammates, Joachim Jensen. Both worked on the giant sculptures “Nessie on the Grand” and “The Steam Pig” that became ArtPrize icons in Grand Rapids. They don’t have any plans yet for another giant work of art, but both are planning on registering.

Jensen says if he makes the top ten this year and is disqualified from ArtPrize 2012, there’s no way he’d be discouraged from entering in 2013.

“I don’t see any reason (not to). ArtPrize is Artprize and whether I’m in the top ten or in the top one-hundred doesn’t matter to me really. This is about art.”

The third annual contest is set to run from late September through early October.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station'sAmplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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