My family has had a great time at ArtPrize these last few weeks visiting as many of the different venues and artists as possible. The final vote is upon us this week and I feel strongly enough about one of the top 10 that I am going to make my intended vote public and let others know why.
First, full disclosure, I am a full 50% Scottish, have been to Loch Ness, and have seriously considered the matter of whether there is or has been a Plesiosaurish orphan in the deep waters (not fully decided either way). Beyond this heritage, I have no other connections with the artists themselves or any of the others or the contest.
Let me list my Top 5 reasons that I think "Nessie on the Grand" tops the Top 10 for ArtPrize.
Let me start by saying my enthusiasm for Nessie in no way minimizes my respect for the other artists in the contest. In my mind, anyone why was able to pull a piece together and find a venue to show it off, is already a winner. Of the amazing artists in the Top 10, I have seen all but 2 and feel badly that I did not have more time planned to see them all.
The first reason I think Nessie should win is the quality and creativity of the piece – it is very well done. My first thought when seeing the water worm for the first time was that it looked like an Egyptian styled version or something out of Stargate. It is described as "art deco" style, but I just thought it was a nice fresh take on the Loch Ness monster that was updated and very striking.
Second, the sheer size of Nessie is impressive – she is huge! Would the Calder or Da Vinci’s Horse be as spectacular if they weren’t bigger than life? When ArtPrize was announced I wondered if anyone would create a piece that would not be restricted by the downtown venues, but actually take advantage of one of the venues downtown. Many artists did this, but Nessie uses one of the greatest features of downtown – the river itself – and makes that part of the art. Brilliant.
Third, I like the fact that Nessie’s installation is in a venue that is fully public, and would necessarily be public if it were permanently installed. One of the greatest aspects of ArtPrize is that is brought art to the public. Many of the pieces at ArtPrize will go behind closed doors after the competition. If Nessie were to find a permanent home it would need to be outdoors in a river/lake somewhere for people to enjoy. I also like the fact that the artists and team blogged and collected video of key moments of the process, and also added social media like Facebook to add a public community aspect to the project.
Fourth, there is no doubt that Nessie has broad audience appeal across ages and cultures. A big part of my excitement over the piece was the response from my children when they saw it. It is impressive, fun, exciting, and doesn’t depend on a particular age, culture, or background to appreciate.
Lastly, Nessie was implemented by a group of people who are local to the area. The top four of my reasons would be reasons enough for me, but the fact that the artists responsible are local, outgoing, and very community focused just seals the deal in my mind. I wouldn’t want artists to think that you had to be from the area to win this wonderful contest. But I would want people to know that, all other things being equal, ties goes to the person or group that can take the prize and encourage others in the area to get out, be creative, and bring their best works forward.