First winner didn’t enter himself in ArtPrize

Ran Ortner, Open Water No. 24, ArtPrize 2009
Ran Ortner won the inaugural ArtPrize with his entry, "Open Water No. 24." (2009 file image)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The winner of the very first ArtPrize didn’t know about the competition until he was already signed up for it.

Ran Ortner’s three-panel oil painting, “Open Water No. 24,” captivated visitors and earned him the $250,000 grand prize in the first ArtPrize in 2009.

“I didn’t hear about it and I didn’t enter myself into the competition,” he told 24 Hour News 8 over the phone from Brooklyn, where he lives. “A friend of mine entered me into the competition. When she called me and said, ‘I’ve entered you into this competition,’ I’m like, ‘Well, why?’ because I thought it was a little cheeky. She said, ‘I just thought it would be wonderful for you.'”

Ortner is now a well-known artist and his paintings hang in popular New York destinations, including the new One World Trade Center.

“I couldn’t overstate it,” Ortner said of the effect of winning the world’s largest art competition. “It’s just like walking through a doorway into another reality. Since ArtPrize it has been a much more secular life, just so much going on the whole time.”

His advice for other artists competing in ArtPrize: “Hope for the best.”

“Open Water Number 24” can be seen above the bar at Reserve Wine & Food on Monroe Avenue NW downtown.



Ran Ortner’s website


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