ArtPrize invites local artists to informational meeting for Pitch Night in May

Installation “Flower of Cycles” by Malena Lou on the side of FOUND:RE Dec. 5 2017. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Phoenix artists will get a chance to go to Michigan for the annual ArtPrize contest this May, as the FOUND:RE Hotel will host a pitch night for selected artists to try out for grants.

Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, ArtPrize is a two and a half week long contest where artists can display their work to the public in different locations and museums. All the while a panel of public jurors examines the entries and votes on the best for each category.

ArtPrize is unique in its emphasis on public participation, allowing the community to vote on their favorite pieces and get involved in the judging process.

“ArtPrize is a nonprofit arts organization,” said Kevin Buist, ArtPrize exhibitions director. “Artists come from all over the world. We offer several different grant programs which are ways to pay some of the upfront costs to participate in the events.”

These grants are won through a one-night event called Pitch Night, where local artists from around the state come and present their exhibition to a panel of judges from the community. The five invited presentations also come with a challenge to present their project in five slides in five minutes to earn one grant of $5,000.

“It supports ambitious projects to come from other cities to ArtPrize and it’s a way for us to book events in other cities to spread the word about ArtPrize in general,” said Buist.

Dan Packard, a lawyer in estate planning and nonprofits and the CEO for ArtPrize Phoenix, wanted to bring ArtPrize to the city to help the downtown arts community.

“It creates a community like nothing else I’ve ever seen,” Packard said. “I knew they were interested in trying out their concept in another city, so I approached them with trying ArtPrize in Phoenix and they were interested.”

Since the contest has yet to come to Phoenix, it is still in the process of spreading the word. To help answer questions as well as get artists engaged in the program, the Phoenix Center for the Arts hosted a two-part informational night on Monday to answer questions and advertise for Pitch Night.

The second half of the evening screened the documentary “More Art Upstairs” by independent filmmaker Jody Hassett Sanchez, featuring four artists and their journey through the two and a half week contest.

“You watch this film and you get a sense of what this crazy massive competition is,” Sanchez said. “I was able to go behind the scenes with the decision makers as well as follow different artists with three camera crews. It shows both the crazy greatness and the flaws of this unusual contest.”

Sanchez hoped that her independent documentary helped artists, curators and collectors to think of ways to make their exhibits and galleries more accessible to those in the public that aren’t actively involved with the art scene.

“It provided me with a lens to look at a lot of raising questions I’ve been thinking about for years about the power of art,” said Sanchez. “It was the perfect way for me to look at a lot of things I think and care about when it comes to art.”

ArtPrize Pitch Night will be held at the FOUND:RE Hotel on May 22 and ArtPrize 2018 will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan from Sept. 19 – Oct. 7, 2018.

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