GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Just 39 ArtPrize entries have made the cut among jurors and the public, but which one has the right formula to win? Art critics are picking apart each piece this week on “Critical Discourse: Why These Finalists?”
Monday, the panel of experts tackled the public and juried picks for the two-dimensional and installation finalists. And whether it was the public who voted for it or an expert, the chances are pretty good the critics did not like it.
Chad Alligood, curator of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; Kristin Fleischmann, director of public projects at Pulitzer Arts Foundation; and Jerry Saltz, senior art critic for New York Magazine, were especially tough on the two-dimensional category finalists.
“Portraits of Light and Shadow” has been very popular with the public — but not so much with Saltz.
“Honestly, I thought this only was cool craft. Sorry,” he said.
Some of the criticism was simple, but much of it had depth — often surrounding the perceived message in the artwork. Fleischmann, in particular, took issue with “Protect and Serve,” a public vote finalist depicting 1930s policemen.
“I don’t think a bunch of white men on motorcyclists aggressively looking at you should be the embodiment of what our police should stand for,” said Fleischmann, who lives in St. Louis.
But the feedback wasn’t all negative. The experts were especially fond of two pieces at SiTE:LAB: 250 prepared ac-motors, 325kg roof laths, 1.0km rope (a public vote finalist) and Hybrid Structures (a juror’s finalist).
They also enjoyed This Space is Not Abandoned, a transformed warehouse in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood. It’s been taken over by local artists to explore themes of race and identity.
“It felt like it had life. The work came from the community, it’s supported by the community. And I thought it was a really beautiful project,” Fleischmann said of the work, which is a finalist for a juried award.
And while the trio didn’t always agree about the works of art, they all gave a glowing review to the competition that brought them together.
“I think it’s the best of its kind in the world. I think that you help save Grand Rapids with this institution. I think this institution gives back more than it takes,” Saltz told 24 Hour News 8 after the show.
==Monday’s “Why These Finalists?” was also simulcast with a Spanish translation. You can watch that here.==
Tuesday, a different set of art experts will focus on the public and juried favorites for the three-dimensional and time-based categories. Tuesday’s panel will include:
- Alice Gray Stites, chief curator at 21c Museum Hotels
- Neil Barclay, director of Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans
- Gregory Volk, New York art critic
The final round of voting wraps up at 11:59 p.m. Thursday. Winners will be announced during the ArtPrize Awards show, Friday Oct. 7 at 7 p.m., airing on WOOD TV8 and woodtv.com. ArtPrize will host a community watch party for the finale at Rosa Parks Circle, beginning at 5 p.m. Friday.
ArtPrize Eight ends Oct. 9.