“We Didn’t Like It”: Watch Paddy Johnson and Curators Discuss the ArtPrize Finalists

by Whitney Kimball on October 7, 2014 Newswire + Reviews

Readers, get a load of Art F City on air from Grand Rapids! Last night, Paddy Johnson went on network TV with curators Scott Stulen (Indianapolis Museum of Art) and Miranda Lash (Speed Art Museum, of Louisville) to critique the 3D and time-based finalists of ArtPrize, the world’s largest art competition. ArtPrize director of exhibitions Kevin Buist moderates. The episode frequently identifies Paddy as the founding editor of “Art F City Magazine,” which, well, we’ll take it. You can watch the full episode here.

Unlike years past, this year, ArtPrize has broken their prizes into two categories: Public Vote awards and Juried awards, with $20,000 awarded to each category winner (2D, 3D, time-based, and installation) and one $200,000 for each Grand Prize winner. You can see the public’s choices of finalists here and the jurors’ picks here.

Unsurprisingly, the experts typically disagreed with the public’s picks. “We didn’t like it,” Johnson immediately swoops in, when asked about their thoughts on Carol Roeda’s “Color Out The Darkness” (around 35-minutes). Johnson describes this as a wall of coffee shop flowers, with semi-religious and misattributed quotes. “I don’t understand how so many mistakes could be made in one shot,” Johnson said. “That, actually, is the impressive thing about this piece.”

Panel favorites mainly included jurors’ picks: Steve Lambert’s “Capitalism Works For Me” poll (because people were forced to display their opinions) and Nathan Lareau’s “Urban Tumbleweed” (a piece with lots of personality and bizarre character). (Tune in around 29 minutes).

Had she been an ArtPrize judge, Johnson would not have chosen the juror’s pick “Wallwave Vibration,” by Loris Cecchini. “It’s not the bare minimum, but there are better examples of better 3D work at ArtPrize.”

All in all, panelists seemed to agree that something is happening in Grand Rapids. As a museum curator, Stulen was pleased to see lines circling the block around art museums in the rain. Lash sees other vital signs in works like “Art Prize: The Musical!”,a juror’s pick and biting critique of the ArtPrize system. Lash relays one of the musical’s jokes: before ArtPrize, Grand Rapids had a third-grade art education: “Now, thanks to ArtPrize, they have a fifth-grade education about art.” That the public is able to laugh at these jokes, Lash considers a healthy conversation-starter. And probably the best sign of all, it’s real talk about art that you almost never see on network TV.

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