Art Loop Open This Friday

This Friday, the Loop will host 191 works of art for the Art Loop Open and you can vote for the winner of the $25,000 grand prize.  Below are some of the works that will be on view. This competition is Chicago’s response to ArtPrize and annual competition in Grand Rapids, MI.  An important difference between the two competitions is that artists participating in Art Loop Open are juried, whereas ArtPrize is open to any artist as long as they can “secure a venue” to show their work.  This means that the majority of work shown at ArtPrize is usually traditional and conservative. Realism usually rules the day, this year’s winner was Chris LaPorte’s a large life-size portrait titled Cavalry, American Officers, 1921 which showed just that subject, executed in graphite.  Last year’s winner was Ran Ortner’s Open Water, no. 24, which also showed just that subject in high realism, executed in oil paint on canvas.  I should note I’ve never gone to see ArtPrize, but with winners like that why would I?

Art Loop Open promises much more diverse fare and diverse subjects that don’t shy away from hot political topics.  Just check out all the oil spill-related work in the slideshow (four examples at least), or the portrait of Bush made of rolls of toilet paper.

I’ll be writing more about the Art Loop Open in the coming days.


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  • It's precisely because of the conservative nature of the Grand Rapids viewing public that Art Prize was worth a visit. I shared your disdain for the event, but ended up going anyway because I had a couple of chicago artists friends participating, and I actually saw quite a bit of good work--much of which didn't make the top ten. (The exception was Beili Liu's beautiful installation which was #3) The Prize committee has tried to address the problem you have pointed out by awarding several other juried prizes. The Art Prize is mostly a scheme to attract visitors and their $$ to Grand Rapids and on that level it's pure genius. I am looking forward to seeing the work in the ArtLoop Open, and I'm very interested in the idea (which seems to be catching on)of inviting the public to "judge" the art. It is an interesting idea, with possibly some unintended consequences for artists. (For instance, if prizes judged by the general public proliferate, will the general public's taste for labor-intensive, highly crafted work push more artists to work in that vein?) We'll see...

  • In reply to kaletts:

    I agree, I think the conservative nature of the Grand Rapids art is very intriguing. And I agree with everything else you've said, that doesn't happen often on comment boards! Thanks for contributing!

  • In reply to Skeptical:

    I told a couple of my friends who participated in both Art Prize and in the Art Loop Open about your post, and I am hoping they will have something interesting to say (compare/contrast) I am intrigued by the whole idea of engaging the public in "judging" art--there's no denying that visual art has become insular, and this is one way of addressing the problem (the best way? I don't know). I was talking to a friend about the idea of creating a "zagat" type of rating system of artists/galleries, maybe in conjunction with additional professional critical input. It would be interesting to see what the difference would be between the criteria that a professional critic applies and the attitudes and values that the general interested public brings to works of art.

  • In reply to kaletts:

    Thanks for passing along the blog to your friends, I hope they join in the conversation.

    I really think that good art doesn't need to comprise itself to reach out to people, look at the continued success of Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate". On the other hand, when art does dumb itself down to reach the public you end up with something like this:

    Oh and make sure you check out the most recent post on ALO, controversy has unfortunately rocked the event!

  • In reply to Skeptical:

    Well, I see what you mean...maybe I'm a starry-eyed optimist, but I have to believe that some kind of accommodation is possible between popular taste and critically approved art. It would certainly be an interesting conversation and maybe both parties would learn something. Anish Kapoor and Beili Liu show that consensus can be reached.

    By the way, needless to say, since I have friends in ArtLoopOpen I've been hearing all about it!

  • In reply to Skeptical:

    Hye, This is Smith.I really think that good art doesn't need to comprise itself to reach out to people, look at the continued success of Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate". On the other hand, when art does dumb itself down to reach the public you end up with something like this and this art is very nice and beautiful.

  • In reply to Skeptical:

    What was that last comment? Some kind of spam?

    My friend Richard Shipps who is in the ArtLoop Open replied with a comment, but sent it directly to me for some reason...but it's interesting so I'm forwarding it in this rather roundabout way:

    Richard says "I went to a panel discussion on public art at Block 37 last Saturday fearuring Carolina Jayaram, Tony Tasset, Juan Angel Chavez and Lynn Basa. There were a lot of comments about reluctance to compromise their artistic integrity and about being true to their personal vision but not a lot of discussion about examining the demographic of the public audience or truly relating to the viewer. I think the art world has to get with the program and get down off their high perches and grapple with the real world. A popular vote includes a lot of people who say "I don't know anything about art, but I know what I like". Those people will continue to prefer shitty no-concept art until the real artists start to try to reach them. Tony Tasset's eyeball is the third he has made. He's just cashing in on a weak concept. I think there will be more art competitions for prize money. Retail loves it ( it increases traffic and sales) so it will persevere. The competitions will get better and the rules will get better at preventing fraud. Shameless commerce will always be around. There will always be people trying to make a buck by producing bad art. What these public-vote art contests do is call artists to task to redefine themselves and their artistic product and message. Shakespeare wrote for the masses. Not too bad. Michaelangelo painted for the church who sought to control the masses. This is not a new concept. The controlling factor now is the money. Can't stop it. Can't be above it. Might as well embrace it. The high-end art world is already playing the game very well. Look at people like Saatchi and the Gagosians. It's a contest with them too, just more money involved."

  • In reply to kaletts:

    That last comment was spam, and as such I removed it.

    Thanks again for continuing the conversation kalettsart, I've been enjoying this. Please encourage Mr. Shipps to join in with us, I'm always ready for more voices here!

    To respond to Mr. Shipps comment: Unfortunately I was unable to attend the panel discussion on Saturday so I'll try to simply respond to what's being discussed here. I agree that there will probably be more contests like this, just as we recently witnessed an explosion of art fairs, biennials, triennials, etc. What I think is unclear is if these competitions encourage what you described as "call[ing] artists to task to redefine themselves and their artistic product." Rather I think these contests encourage and reward catering to the masses, since the popular vote is the most important thing. Just look at ArtPrize and the top artworks there, rarely is it innovative or challenging artwork, as is briefly discussed in this very post.

    To respond to another point "the art world has to get with the program and get down off their high perches and grapple with the real world." I think that parts of the art world do grapple with the real world, the alternative art spaces and organizations (of which Chicago has many) foster community and activism along with alternate modes of exhibiting works. The Luc Tuymans show at the MCA engages with the very real atrocities of the real world and how we remember it.

    But moreover I frequently question whether the art world, that is, art, should "grapple" with the real world. Grappling with the real world and real world problems is the job of politics and educators, not necessarily art. That's a WHOLE other issue and set of articles though.

    Mr. Shipps brings up a lot of issues in his response, and I can't fully address all of them, unfortunately, at least in the comment section.

    Here's something I've thought about though: what would be best for the art and artists while having a similar effect economically, could be a Chicago Biennial or something like that. Why imitate ArtPrize? What we should be asking is why doesn't Chicago have an equivalent of the Whitney Biennial? We used to.

  • In reply to kaletts:

    Wow there were a whole lot of ideas in that last far as "catering" to the masses, I think you can make a legitimate distinction between pandering to popular taste (which implies a kind of contempt for the intelligence of the public) and making work accessible to interested viewers who are willing to meet the artist half-way. I think that's what Richard meant in his post--not that art is the best way to tackle the injustices of the world.

    As more "popular" arts contests proliferate, I see an expanded role for the arts writer. The question is how to incorporate knowledgeable comment into these enterprises, Maybe a "cheat sheet" or a kind of racing form. This is more necessary in the Grand Rapids instance which is unjuried vs the Chicago Art Loop Open where work has been pre-judged to be "worthy"
    (By the way, no shame in imitating ArtPrize--a good idea is a good idea and there's plenty of room for innovation and improvement based on the original premise.)
    As far as the idea of a bicentennial goes, I question whether there aren't some other, better, fresher ideas for engaging the public in an intelligent way. After all the whole idea of a museum as a temple of art where the public goes to receive art absolution may be coming to an end--after all, it only dates from the Napoleonic period. Before that the precursor, the "cabinet of wonders" was just a really rich person's attic.

    What about an online virtual museum bicentennial(a la Sims or Second Life)? A subway/train museum? Or a tiny museum on a bike? By the way, for another fun and funny idea, check out the Homeless Museum of Art in NYC...

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