Funding, Politics, and ArtPrize: Key Reactions

Just hours to go until ArtPrize reveals its winners for 2014, and there's been a flurry of response to news that finalist Steve Lambert will be donating his winnings to a Grand Rapids–based LGBT organization. The most noteworthy:

Hrag Vartanian, an ArtPrize judge in Lambert's category and Hyperallergic founder/editor, applauds the move, but cautions against generalizing about an entire organization's character based on the actions of a funder. He also sees this as a moment for ArtPrize to "prove it deserves an art world spotlight":
[I]f Grand Rapids is serious about embracing art and about the art world embracing them, they will have to prove that they’re committed to helping create an environment where art can flourish — one where all types of people, ideas, and identities are welcome to play, work, and live together. Until that happens, they shouldn’t be surprised if ArtPrize’s mission to be a “radically open” art community is never fully realized. Rick DeVos and ArtPrize, make a statement to demonstrate that your mission isn’t only an idea, but a commitment to something more.
Likewise, ArtFCity's Paddy Johnson, who was part of an ArtPrize panel on Grand Rapids TV, both celebrated Lambert's decision and expressed some discomfort over Lambert's "assumption that Rick DeVos necessarily holds all the views of his family or spends his money on the same causes." But she concludes: "He’s not just asking his audience to think seriously about capitalism, he’s demanding that of himself. And that just makes me want to see Lambert’s piece win even more."

ArtPrize, too, responded, with a blog post by Kevin Buist: "In short, we think it’s great." He includes this fact:
...Another reason we welcome this development is Lambert’s choice of where he’ll donate the money. First of all, an artist who is not from West Michigan pledging to use potential winnings to give back to our community is a wonderful and generous thing. But it’s even better than that. The Grand Rapids Community Foundation, the organization behind the Our LGBT Fund, is an ArtPrize sponsor. Earlier this year we were proud to announce the that Community Foundation awarded ArtPrize a $50,000 gift to work to ensure that everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or socioeconomic status, can join the conversation and have their voices heard at the world’s largest art competition.
ArtPrize winners will be announced tonight, with a live broadcast of the ceremony beginning at 7:45 Grand Rapids time. 

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