Friday, September 18, 2009

Apples and Oranges

The Art Prize is coming to Grand Rapids, MI. It is here, really. A 30,000 Pound Chair that will have a matching table is being installed atop of a downtown bridge.
This competition is being hailed as a great competition. It will bring art from around the world to west Michigan. It is judge by the public. It has a non-traditional method of admission. There is no jury or submission of slides. The artist has to get in touch with a local businesses within the perimeters set downtown .
This seems good. Anyone can enter. It frees the artist from the system of critics and the art elite.
I think that the art prize is what the art world doesn't need. ( I don't think it is harmful, but it doesn't help the situation.) The problem with art today is that there is no clear distinction placed on what is made. I have read art criticism books that speak of judging art by one context or another. But very few people care to take the time to find out what is behind different forms of art. I have heard phrases like, "I just don't get it", or "I don't see how that's art".
If one goes to an art museum a 3,000 year old artifact is just down the hall from 50 year old oil paintings. These things are divided by period but it lacks true distinction. It is all termed art.
In Grand Rapids at the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, the roughly 2 story Da Vinci horse is just down the path from welded I-beams. There is no attention given to the motives, intentions, or general context that these radically different objects have been created with.
Art doesn't need less distinction but more. Painting and sculpture needs something other than being thrown together with dancing, and music in a category labeled "The Arts". I would like a distinction between splatter painting, technical realism, and 30,000 pound chairs, not because I think that some art should be excluded or discouraged but rather that these things that people are making should be set into context. How can the megalithic sculpture, the still life painting or the installation be judged in the same contest for a very large sum of money?
Perhaps critics, professors and artist do give distinction, but I'm not sure that the general public (who will be judging this contest) does much thinking, if any, about art. Perhaps in freeing the contest from the critics and art elite, one is taking the art out of the hands of the people who care about art and into the laps of people who don't.
I am critiquing this contest but the issue seems bigger than one contest. It encompasses terms like "The Arts" and institutions that tear artwork out of it's context with little clue for the viewer what the work is all about.

My name is Braden Williams. I am an artist living outside Grand Rapids, Michigan. These views do not necessarily reflect those of other Art Babel contributors. To read more of my views check out my blog at

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Upcoming Exhibitions

Fall Kitsch


“Sonata” av Hege Elisabeth Haugen, olje på lerret

Galleri Pan

Oslo, Norway

September 17th 2009


Take Home a Nude


For inquiries about sponsorship, tickets and artwork donation please contact Katie Albert ( / 212-842-5966)

If you happen to be in Oslo or New York, check out my work at these two events!