ArtPrize In Sin City: Nevada Officials Want To Replicate Grand Rapids International Art Competition

Public art officials in Nevada will host the director of ArtPrize next week as part of their efforts to replicate the international art competition in Sin City.

Executive director Christian Gaines, as well as director of corporate sponsorship Jori Bennett, will hold a presentation about ArtPrize and “how Las Vegas also could become an art center,” according to the Clark County Public Art Committee. The presentation will take place Feb. 11 at the Winchester Cultural Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

ArtPrize bills itself as a “radically open, independently organized international art competition.” For more than two weeks, art pops up along three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids. It’s all open and free to the public to explore and, ultimately, choose favorites; hundreds of thousands are given out as artist awards, half determined by public vote.

Last year’s ArtPrize grand prize winners

According to Michael Ogilvie, public art cultural specialist with the Public Art Committee, ArtPrize was appealing to the committee members because it involves a large swath of the community, not just artists, and they also “liked the idea that art can be an economic engine.”

He added that ArtPrize would be a unique and significant event for Las Vegas, where “primarily our art events are performance based.” He also noted that Las Vegas doesn’t have its own art museum (they’ve got a contemporary art center, and a ton of history and novelty museums, and a fine art gallery at the Bellagio, but evidently not a capital M Museum.) (UPDATE: Shoutout to Program Director Aurore Giguet who pointed out the Barrick Museum at the University of Nevada.)

“We are an event city,” he said. “And events like ArtPrize – this would be really kind of an ideal city for it.”

Las Vegas is not the first city outside of Michigan to attempt to replicate ArtPrize. In late 2014, a Texas nonprofit got to work on an ArtPrize Dallas event and competition. However, as ArtPrize announced last October, the event fell through due to insufficient funding.

Ogilvie noted that with a “major undertaking” such as ArtPrize, the Public Art Committee could not be the sole source of either funding or organizational staff. With next week’s presentation, he said, “the hope is it catches on… and we get a lot of people who are interested in making it happen.”

“If it doesn’t occur, it might just be a good presentation that fills people with knowledge about a pretty incredible event,” Ogilvie continued. “The best thing we can hope is that [ArtPrize staff] will come out and create a spark, and if that spark turns into a fire, great.”