Category Archives: ArtPrize

“The World’s Largest Art Prize” in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Brooklyn Painter Wins ArtPrize

Ran Ortner used to race motorcycles professionally. Now he climbs up and down ladders and paints huge canvases. And he just won $250,000 in the world’s largest art prize.

Ran’s six-by-19 foot oil on canvas “Open Water Number 24” was the big winner out of Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize. The gigantic, 3-D outdoor spectacles must have split the vote, and this striking 2-D painting of water took first place. Nice going, Ran.

Ran Ortner and "Open Water Number 24"

Ran Ortner and "Open Water Number 24"

Yes, yes. But in another, less-accurate way, the 1200-plus artists who put there hearts out there in GR were all winners. Personally, I had an excellent time and will do it again. I got to see family and friends from all over Michigan, and even Chicago. I enjoyed spending time in Grand Rapids and Muskegon, my hometown. And I “drove a car”, which to New Yorkers is rather novel. Big thanks to those of you who stopped by to say hi at the receptions, and congrats to Grand Rapids for putting on a dynamite show. See you next year!

Click here for a nice recap by Micki Maynard of the New York Times, quoting my former Michigan Radio co-worker , Dustin Dwyer.

With Barb Cain-Kellman

With Barb Cain-Kellman

With Cheryl Anderson, and John & Pat Mish

With Cheryl Anderson, and John & Pat Mish


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Hey, Let’s Hang Out at the Ottawa Tavern Tonight?

"Who's with me??"

"Who's with me??"

You guys with me? HELL, yeah! Let’s do it! See you at the Tavern!

I’ll be at the Ottawa Tavern tonight from 6–10 p.m. for an ArtPrize reception for all the ArtPrizey artists showing there. You’ll see all your ArtPrize favorites, like Stephanie Timmerman Schlatter, Bud Kibby and Ginny Keegan. Of course, I’ll be there too, waving a glass of Guinness in wide arcs around my head and denouncing the Fed. All that fun stuff.

Oh, come on, Fed. No need to put me on your little Nixon list. I’m kidding, as far as you know.

The Ottawa Tavern is in downtown Grand Rapids at 151 Ottawa at Pearl Street. Hope you can make it. And hopefully some of our friends from the West Michigan Environmental Action Council will be there, too. I’ve pledged to donate 10% of any prize money I receive to their West Michigan Stream Projects. I loved the water when I was a little lad growing up in North Muskegon, MI. Man, I miss it sometimes. I’m proud of the work that WMEAC does and I’m happy to support them.

Maybe you could, too, with a donation on their site.

Healthy Stream not brought to you by FloMax©

Healthy Stream not brought to you by FloMax©

Oh, and if you haven’t already, you can register and vote for Tebeau and 1978 right here. Voting ends on September 30, so you have time, but not much….

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Gerald Ford Would be Proud of You…

Grand Rapids' Own

Grand Rapids' Own

… if you came to downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan tonight from 7-10 pm for the ArtPrize Artists Reception at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, just across the river from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum.

I’ll be there, along with a few hundred other artists, well-wishers, kibbutzers, and assorted types. ArtPrize is in full swing, so do your duty as an upstanding American, and:

1. Register! (you can do this online at the ArtPrize website) then

2. Activate your voter registration! (at any number of venues around Grand Rapids, also listed here on the website)

3. VOTE! (online or by cell phone) Preferably for Tebeau’s 1978!

The top 10 vote-getters receive cash prizes. If elected – er – selected, I’ve promised to donate 10% of the prize money to the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

Tomorrow (Friday the 25th) I’ll be at another reception at the Ottawa Tavern from 6-10, where 1978 is hanging. That’s at 151 Ottawa (at Pearl) in downtown GR. Hope you can make it!



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Live from Grand Rapids …

1978, John's ArtPrize Entry

1978, John's ArtPrize Entry

My painting has officially taken its place among the more than 1,200 works on display all around Grand Rapids, Mich. this week.

I arrived in Grand Rapids this afternoon and got a pleasant surprise — the Ottawa Tavern gave me premium wall placement for 1978, so more people are likely to see it. It’s even visible from the sidewalk through the Ottawa’s windows.

I’ll be taking part in ArtPrize events for most of the next few days. If you would like to know what I’m up to, you can check me out on Twitter. My wife/marketing consultant has peer pressured me into tweeting and this seems like the perfect time to really give it a try with the stream-of-consciousness updates.

If you want to see what other people are saying about ArtPrize on Twitter, check out this search. You’ll see a lot of excited comments like:

nicknelson Good morning. Just got to work. There is a palpable feeling of excitement in the air for #artprize in GR. It’s pretty amazing.

mindyjean @ArtPrize starts today and the excitement is in the air! Two thumbs up Grand Rapids! #MichiganAwesome

peopledesign Amazing start to @artprize. It was giddy at the opening reception.

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How to vote in ArtPrize, nice ‘n easy like

A guest post from the wife of the artist, Colleen Newvine Tebeau:

ArtprizeSealThe organizers of ArtPrize are giving art fans lots of ways to weigh in on who should win recognition and cash in the art contest this month in Grand Rapids.

Maybe it’s because of all those choices that I find the rules a little hard to follow. In case I’m not the only one easily confused, here’s my run at it.

To help an artist win ArtPrize, you must do two things:

  1. Register to vote in person at a registration venue in Grand Rapids, Mich.
  2. Vote

That’s easy, right?

** First, the registration: **

As the ArtPrize voting rules page states:

  • Anyone 16 years of age or older who registers in person at the ArtPrize event can vote.
  • You cannot vote without registering at the event.
  • There will be no charge for voter registration.
  • Attendees will be required to present a valid government issued ID in person at a registration station
  • ID can be drivers license, other state ID or passport
  • There will be voter registration stations throughout the city September 23-October 7

So in order to vote, you must physically go to one of the ArtPrize registration stations anytime between Sept. 23 and Oct. 7. You can find a list here on the ArtPrize site. It helpfully includes the hours of each location.

Optionally, you can pre-register. Organizers say it will save you time at the registration site. Instead of having to provide your details there, you can just show your ID and activate your voting status.

You can vote without pre-registering but you can’t vote without registering. Got it?

** Second step: voting **

All voting is electronic. No hanging chads, no folded pieces of paper in a shoe box. Top prize is $250,000 and ArtPrize is not fooling around. Deloitte & Touche, the accounting firm, designed the voting process.

Like in the old days in Chicago, you get to vote multiple times in this election. There is a first round where you can vote for as many artists as you like, then a second round where you choose your favorite from among 10 finalists.

Voting runs Sept. 23-30 for the first round. You can vote up or down on each artist but only the up votes will count in selecting the finalists.

Voting for finalists runs Oct. 1-7. If you were registered to vote for round one, you are still registered to vote again.

How do you vote? You have many choices. You can use one or all in the first round to advance as many artists as you want. Second round, choose the one that works best for you.

* Online: Anytime after you’re registered to vote, sign in to your account on, search for an artist and start voting.

* Mobile Browser: Mobile browser offers a simplified version of on your mobile phone at Sign in, record your vote in the text box and type the artist’s voting code into the box to vote up or down. You can find artist codes by searching for the artist on — John’s is 3276.

* iPhone app: Go to the iTunes store and download the ArtPrize app. Sign in to the app and search artists by name to vote for them.

* Text Message (SMS): Register your mobile phone number with ArtPrize, either online at or in person when you register.

Once your voter status is activated, you’ll receive a text message with a unique code. Text that code back to 878787 to validate your phone and then you’re ready to vote “up” or “down.”
Send all votes to 878787; text the word “vote” plus the numeric code displayed near the artwork (i.e., “vote 55551”)

With all the voting taking place electronically, some of our far-away friends have expressed interest in casting their ballot for John long distance. Sadly, unless you want to buy a plane ticket, you can cross your fingers and encourage other people to vote but you can’t help choose the winner.

1978, John's ArtPrize Entry

1978, John's ArtPrize Entry

While we’d love every vote we can get, I like the ArtPrize system because:

  • Instead of just testing which of the 1,200 artists has the most friends, it means people have to physically see at least some of the art on display all around Grand Rapids. In addition to winning, I think all these creative folks would love as many people to see their work as possible.
  • It cuts down on the chance for cheating. If you didn’t have to physically go, every artist could just create 100 fake gmail accounts to forge 100 votes and the whole system would cave in.
  • It’s fantastic to think about the energy and excitement of having more than 1,000 artists urge everyone they know to come to Grand Rapids.

Now that we have that all cleared up, head to the Ottawa Tavern at Ottawa and Pearl to see not only John’s art but also:

Stephanie Timmerman Schlatter
Natalie Villarreal
Florence Denham
Tom Phares
Anna Timmerman
William Johnson
Loretta Shumate-Pierre
Bud Kibby
Lynn Anderson
David Guthrie
Kevin Wentworth
Marlan Cotner
Hannah Lukasiewicz
James Jursinic
Betsy Brelinski
Laurel J Prafke
Ginny Keegan
Colette Gee
Levi Goven
Seth Wehner
Jennifer Rentschler
Gregory Oberle
J Toffic



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Voting is American. What are you, a commernist?

artprizebadgeAlong with over 1,200 other artists from around the world, I’m off to Grand Rapids, Michigan next week for ArtPrize, “the world’s largest art prize.” About half a million dollars in prize money (BOING) for the top ten vote-getters. And who gets to vote? You, The people. Der volk.

Vote? How?

First you register, then you go to any number of ArtPrize voting centers in Grand Rapids to activate your registration. Then, between Sept 23 and 30th, you vote for as many artists as you want (only one vote per artist, however). On October 1, the top 10 are announced, and between then and the 7th, you can vote for any one of those 10, which will determine the allocation of the prize money, from $250,000 (BOING) for #1 to $7,000 for #10.

So you can go here right now to register online. You can then vote online or via cell phone. There’s even an iPhone app. Yes, there’s an app for that. Of course there is.

See you there?

I’ll be at the Artists Reception on Thursday the 24th at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel from 6 to 10.

I’ll also be at the Ottawa Tavern (where my painting is hanging) for their reception on Friday the 25th from 6 to 10 as well. That’s at 151 Ottawa at Pearl in downtown GR.

The painting I’m showing is called “1978”, a nostalgic mash-up of things that got me off when I was a kid in A.D. 1978. Carter was in the White House, George W. Bush was harmlessly waking up every day in a puddle of his own sick, and a young John Belushi taught us how to imitate a zit with mashed potatoes.




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ArtPrize in the Media

Picture-21ArtPrize, ‘the world’s largest art prize’, is an open art competition starting September 23 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Over 1,200 artists from around the world will be contributing, and the media coverage of the event (and its artists) is picking up steam.

One guy getting a lot of buzz is Aaron Heideman from Oregon. He’s driving his van across the country, collecting “recession stories.”

“I just want to give people a voice,” he said during a stop in Rhode Island, the 20th state he stopped in during what he calls a nationwide conceptual art piece. His media, as he describes it: a 50-yard roll of Tyvek, a Dodge van, and a homeless man (himself). His final destination is Grand Rapids, Mich., home of ArtPrize, where he plans to display his project in September and October.”

The full A.P. story is here.  Heideman has good idea. It reminds me of Steinbeck in “Travels With Charley” plus some “Cannery Row” and of course “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Online registration for ArtPrize starts on September 14. For more info on voting, go here.


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