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Michigan artist wins top ArtPrize award

GRAND RAPIDS, Oct. 7, 2010 (AP): The $250,000 grand prize in the second annual ArtPrize competition was awarded Thursday night to a Grand Rapids artist and his massive penciled drawing depicting U.S. Cavalry officers.

Chris LaPortes 8-by-28-foot ``Cavalry, American Officers, 1921,'' was picked following two weeks of public voting. He said winning was an ``overwhelming'' experience, and was appreciative of the public response.

``People expressed very personal things that they felt were connected to viewing the piece,'' LaPorte told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. ``Many people said they had come back four and five times, that each time it elicited something new.''

The second-place award of $100,000 went to Mia Tavonatti from Santa Ana, Calif., for ``Svelata'' and the third-place award of $50,000 went to Beili Liu of Austin, Texas, for ``Lure/Wave, Grand Rapids.''

They were among 10 works that received a total of $449,000 decided by the public, which was conducted online and by cell phone through ``American Idol''-style voting. Six works also won awards of $5,000 each.

``Cavalry'' is a representation of the soldiers, their legacy and ``the countless organization of pencil marks that make up a composition,'' LaPorte wrote in a description of the work, which was displayed at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

``It is about the process of drawing, and also a portrait of these men who must have survived horrific events to preserve what we experience today,'' he wrote.

The work will become part of the ArtPrize collection and be made available for loan to art institutions, organizers said.

LaPorte said no decision had been made about what to do with the prize money, but he said it should allow him and his girlfriend to make more ambitious artwork. He said he also expected to be able to pay of some debts.

LaPorte operates a fine arts studio and was one of more than 1,713 artists from 21 countries who displayed their works at 192 venues in and around downtown Grand Rapids. ArtPrize opened Sept. 22 and ends Sunday.

More than 465,500 votes were cast in the competition, including 16,905 in the final round. In 2009, more than 334,000 votes were cast.

Online: ArtPrize: http://www.artprize.org


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