Ran Ortner

In the end, Lake Michigan may have decided ArtPrize winner

October 15, 2009 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Over the years many events have come and gone from Grand Rapids, but none have succeeded more admirably than the brainchild of Rick DeVos—the 18-day extravaganza named ArtPrize 2009. The unprecedented success for downtown Grand Rapids brought thousands of visitors from the greater Grand Rapids community and beyond to view the collective works of 1,262 artists from 41 states and 15 foreign countries. Every imaginable genre of art was on display at 159 venues within three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids. The good, the bad and the ugly—it was all on display to be voted up or down by anyone who registered to vote. Aside from the artwork on display, visitors were introduced to, many for the first time, the destination mecca that is downtown Grand Rapids. Early in the competition, on two separate days, your reporters had viewed many but not all of the exhibits on display. After one week, the competition was winnowed down to a final 10. During the following week, voters were again asked to choose, from the final 10, the ultimate winners of the ArtPrize competition. So during the last day of voting, the Squire paid a return visit to pick our personal favorites. Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. We each had our own favorites, which we won’t divulge. Last Thursday evening, the winners were announced and we were amazed at the good fortune of having photographed and interviewed each of the top three winners along with their respective works of art the previous day. The $250,000 first-place prize went to Ran Ortner of Brooklyn, N.Y., with his oil-on-canvas painting titled “Open Water no. 24” which was exhibited in the Old Federal Building. The 19-foot-wide by six-foot-high painting is a mesmerizing seascape of rolling waves. Among other accomplishments, Ortner is a surfer and has had a lifelong love affair with water and entered his recently completed painting in ArtPrize. “I had never before been to Grand Rapids and had no idea of the importance of the Lake Michigan seashore and the Grand River to the people who live here,” said Ortner. Fate had also conspired to place Ortner’s painting directly behind another entry, a 14-foot-long by 10-foot-wide by 4.5-foot-high […]