Read on, I will explain. I remember a few art shows ago, we were dismantling an exhibition. As I was taking my work off the wall, this artist asked me if I sold anything. I nodded, "No". She quickly boasted "I sold two paintings!" I congratulated her and went back to my own business. As she walked away, I visualized her work in my mind. She was a painter of clowns. Her work was very relatable to much of the public audience. Obviously, her work was popular enough for someone to buy her art. That is great for her. More often than not, my work doesn't seem to be understood by the average Jane or Joe. Even though I don't really care, I was a bit jealous of the clown painter.
This week the Grand Rapids ArtPrize competition was held. This is a huge art contest drawing international attention. The most interesting part is the fact the judgment comes from two different entities. In one category, the prizes are determined by popular vote. The second group of prizes are given by art professional jurors. The person who wins the $200,000 grand prize given by "the people" gets lots of attention and press. The winner of the jury vote, not so much.
In no way do I mean to downgrade any of the artists in this art contest. However, I have noticed a common thread amongst the works that win the popular votes over the past few years. Generally, it is very straight forward, representational, relatable, and usually quite traditional. The juried winner's works tend to be esoteric, academic, intellectually driven, and to put it simply kind of weird. At least that is what the average person might think.
So this brings me back to my original question. As an artist, whose vote would matter most to you? Would you prefer the popular votes or be given kudos by the art pros? I suppose ideally, it would be wonderful to have the best of both worlds. Is it possible to have art professional approval and still get the popular vote?
Tell me what you think.
Here are this year's ArtPrize winners (Click pics for more information)
ArtPrize Grand Prize Winner (Popular Vote)
"Sleeping Bear Dune" by Ann Loveless
ArtPrize Grand Prize Winner (Juried Vote)
"Ecosystem" by Carlos Bunga