ArtPrize, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, gives out the largest art prize in the world. Anyone can enter, and anyone can vote, keeping the number of competing artists and jury members constantly in flux. During the submission period, the Art Prize website connects participating artists with potential host venues. If the artist secures a venue to show work, he or she is entered into the competition. The public votes online, and by the end of the process, the top-ranked artist is awarded $250,000, with nine runners-up also going home with prizes.
On a mission to "reboot the conversation between artists and audiences on a grand scale," founder Rick DeVos and Executive Director Jeffrey Meeuwsen have dubbed their endeavor as an "irresistible social experiment." ArtPrize does not contend to be anti-jury, anti-curator or anti-establishment endeavor in any way--it simply wishes to engage the public and artists in an environment where each individual opinion yields a tangible result.
From September 23 to October 10, 2009, ArtPrize did just that--garnering over 1,200 participants and countless more voters. First Place went to painter Ran Ortner of Brooklyn, NY, for a large-scale oil painting of open water. To mark this first ArtPrize competition, a limited edition Moleskine notebook, silkscreened with the orange ArtPrize logo, was created for distribution to VIP, press and artists. The notebook's paperband captures the character of the voting process with a single line: "Tell me about the coolest thing you saw today."