ArtPrize Gives Top Honors to Dog Sculptures and a Recreated 1960s Office

There are two grand prizes of $200,000.

Stacey Kirby, The Bureau of Personal Belonging. Courtesy of ArtPrize.

The Grand Rapids, Michigan-based public art extravaganza known as ArtPrize revealed the winners of $500,000 in prizes on October 7, with the two $200,000 Grand Prizes going to James Mellick and Stacey Kirby.

Mellick was selected through the public vote, for his piece Wounded Warrior Dogs, while a jury of art experts singled out Kirby’s The Bureau of Personal Belonging.

Since voting began September 21, 37,433 visitors cast 380,119 ballots, with more votes coming through the ArtPrize mobile app than ever before. For its eighth edition, ArtPrize tapped a team of heavyweights to serve as judges: Michelle Grabner, artist and professor at School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Paul Ha, director at the MIT List Visual Arts Center; and Sotheby’s senior vice president Eric Shiner.

The audience and jury’s differing tastes are telling. As it was in 2015, when Steve and Ann Loveless were the people’s choice for their massive photo quilt, compared to the jury’s favored entry by Kate Gilmore, a more conceptual performance-based piece, the popular vote recognized craftsmanship. (Loveless took the grand prize once previously, in 2013.)

James Mellick,<em> Wounded Warrior Dogs</em>. Courtesy of ArtPrize.

James Mellick, Wounded Warrior Dogs. Courtesy of ArtPrize.

The life-size wood carved sculptures submitted by Mellick show dogs with fake limbs, and represent the injuries suffered by US servicemen in combat. He hopes to honor the sacrifices of wounded veterans.

Kirby’s work was more interactive, inviting visitors into a veritable time capsule, designed to mimic a 1960s-era bureaucratic office space. Visitors are able to engage with performers, and asked to respond both verbally and in writing to their experiences in the room.

“Stacey’s piece was so thoughtful and so ambitious that it stood out,” said Ha of the judges’ choice in a statement. “And you walked in and you weren’t quite sure if you were in an acting studio or part of a piece. Then after you engage with the artist and the actors, you realize they are letting you know there are some points out there that we should be aware of.”

Susana Cook, <em>Nuns on Ramp</em> at SiTE:LAB's Rumsey St. Project. Courtesy of SiTE:LAB.

Susana Cook, Nuns on Ramp at SiTE:LAB’s Rumsey St. Project. Courtesy of SiTE:LAB.

Among other awards, perennial ArtPrize favorite SiTE:LAB was recognized for the fifth time, with the Rumsey Street Project splitting the award for best venue, which it won in 2015, with Grandville Avenue, a SiTE:LAB Curatorial Fellowship Venue curated by Steffanie Rosalez.

The Rumsey Street Project, which has transformed abandoned homes into art installations, was the 2015 venue winner as well, and was also home to Gilmore’s prize-winning project. This is the first time that two venues have split the ArtPrize award.

See the complete list of winners below.

Public Vote: Portraits of Light and Shadow, at DeVos Place Convention Center, by Joao Paulo Goncalves from Pompano Beach, FL. The Two-Dimensional Public Vote Award is presented by Foremost Insurance.

Juried: les bêtesat the Grand Rapids CIty Water Building, by Isaac Aoki from Grand Rapids, MI.

Public Vote: Wounded Warrior Dogs, at Amway Grand Plaza, by James Mellick from Milford Center, OH.

Juried: Excavations, at SiTE:LAB/ Rumsey St. Project, by William Lamson from New York, NY. The Three-Dimensional Juried Award is presented by Haworth.

Public Vote: Sweeper’s Clock, at Grand Rapids Art Museum, by Maarten Baas from Den Bosch, North Brabant, Netherlands. The Time-Based Public Vote Award is presented by the DTE Energy Foundation.

Juried: Search Engine Vision “ISIS”, at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, by Eric Souther from Mishawaka, IN.

Public Vote: The Butterfly Effect, at DeVos Place Convention Center, by Pettit Smith from Durango, CO. The Installation Public Award is presented by Amway.

Juried: This Space Is Not Abandoned, at 912 Grandville Ave, by 912 CollABORATIVE from Grand Rapids, MI.

Outstanding Venue Juried Award


This Space is Not Abandoned, 912 Grandville Avenue.

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