Gawker on Grand Rapids' Artprize: 'Particularly lavish and particularly boring'



We've been following Grand Rapids' Artprize for some time now. Most recently when artist Corey Ruffin declared "Artprize killed the underground artistic scene in Grand Rapids. But we also wrote about it last year, amazed by "so much patience, and so little taste," in which Jerry Vile (another Artprize contestant) told us: "You'll see a lot of shitty art at ArtPrize." We also wrote about two artists, one who was banned from the contest and another who vowed to give any winnings to LGBT charities.

What's all the hubbub about? It has to do with the funders of the art competition, the Devos family, which also funds right-wing politics. It's a huge turn-off for many artists, who choose not to enter. The arts festival itself tends to showcase rather tame art. Also, the festival ain't exactly what they call "a beautiful mosaic of diversity."

The latest salvo of criticism comes from a writer who's covered Detroit well in the past, Peter Moskovitz. He was flown out just for the Artprize and wound up writing a dense piece about the event. It's worth a look, if only to read this line:

ArtPrize, with few exceptions, has not produced artwork of note, has not launched careers or changed discourse. Its greatest achievement is that it has made a few lucky people who will never have success in the actual art world moderately rich and somewhat venerated for a few days each year.

Compared to some of the later verdict on the festival, that paragraph is actually pretty polite.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.