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FineArtViews Interview: Rick DeVos -- Founder of ArtPrize

by Brian Sherwin on 6/20/2011 8:05:54 PM

This article is by Brian Sherwin, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint and Art Fag City. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.


Social entrepreneur Rick DeVos is the founder of ArtPrize -- an international art competition held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. ArtPrize involves over $500,000 in prizes-- as a juried competition it is unique due to the prize money involved and the fact that the public takes part in the jury process alongside a category for traditional juried work as well. Artists involved in the competition negotiate a venue (location) with local exhibitors. From there the works are voted on by the public-- which involves modern networking technology. DeVos has stated that the goal of ArtPrize is to "see what happens when a city becomes a gallery, artists engage directly with the public, and the public has an empowered voice in responding to the art.".


Brian Sherwin: Rick, you are the founder of ArtPrize -- an art competition that involves nearly $500,000. It has been stated that the competition is designed to draw worldwide attention to Grand Rapids through its integration of technology, a diverse group of venues and the creations of hundreds of competitors working in virtually any medium. Can you discuss the early history of ArtPrize? Why did you decide to establish this competition? I assume that there was a great deal of planning before you went public with ArtPrize.


Rick DeVos: I've always been fascinated with art, culture, and events that are built around them. Over the last few years in particular I've had the privilege of going to a lot of great cultural events like the Sundance Film Festival, the Telluride Film Festival, and SXSW. So, for a few years now I've thought that Grand Rapids is really ripe for putting on this sort of large cultural event.


Grand Rapids has a great history of design and public art, a walkable downtown, a surprisingly large student population, and strong cultural institutions like the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. It was the perfect location for an experiment like ArtPrize.


Initially, due to all the film fest attendance, I thought seriously about putting on a film festival. However, the nature of film festivals (due very much to the nature of the medium) is that they are highly centralized and controlled. You have a small committee that reviews films and accepts them, highly specific kinds of venues and a very rigid screening schedule with capacity, ticketing, and volunteering schedules adding even more layers of complexity and centralized decision-making. So, thinking about how film festivals work, I started to think about what the opposite would look like. What could we do that was extremely open, decentralized, and allowing of a wide variety of media and expressions, not just film? How could we let innovation and creativity happen on the edges instead of trying to plan and control all of it ourselves at the center?


I started to think about how to get a large group of artists interested in showing their work, and a large swath of the public interested in looking at that work, but at the same time go beyond the traditional artist-public relationship of buying and selling that art fairs are built around. Models like X-Prize were particularly interesting because they create a large incentive for attaining a particular goal, which in turn entices a large group of individuals and teams to go after that goal. In going after the prize, the individuals and teams generate lots of value for themselves (and ultimately the world) in the process of creating, and they receive a reward if they win.


It seemed like a pretty straightforward idea to create a very large art prize to gain the attention of a broad cross-section of artists. The trick was how to get the larger public interested and invested in the process instead of just passively wandering through. From there, it was pretty natural to think of having a public vote--public reaction and feedback--decide who the winners of ArtPrize would be. Then to go one step further, we opened up who could host a venue--and thereby opened up curation for the event-- by just setting a border, minimum open hours, and a couple of other basic things. So, really all ArtPrize does is facilitate a relationship between people of the city and artists from all over.


So, all of that said (phew!), the ideas for ArtPrize had been developing for a couple of years prior to us going public and continue to expand at present.


BS: Can you give us a breakdown of the competition and how voting works? Can people vote online or do they have to be present at the Grand Rapids venues? There has been some confusion about that based on the articles I've read over the years.


RD: People have to physically register in Grand Rapids to be able to vote in ArtPrize. We don't want people to exploit this opportunity. ArtPrize is not an opportunity for an individual to create 400 email addresses and vote a corresponding amount of times from their desktop computer in Reno--we're very serious about protecting the integrity of the vote and making sure people are who they say they are.


Once you are registered and we've made sure you're not acting as 50 fictional people simultaneously, you will be able to vote through SMS, mobile platform-specific applications, and the web (mobile and desktop). So you will register in person, see some of the work over a few days, then conceivably go home to New York or Chicago and continue to vote through your desktop browser.


The flow of public voting goes like this--for the first week, you will be able to vote on every piece in ArtPrize, up, down, or neutral. That data will flow back in real time to attendees, and will help people find their way through the experience and discover things that are interesting to them via tools and filters like "these were the top 5 venues last night" and "these are the most polarizing pieces in the last 24 hours" (as somewhat random examples). At the end of the first week, the top 10 pieces will be announced, their slates will be wiped clean, and voting will start again but only within those top 10. At this point, everyone will only get one up vote and one down vote within that top 10, and that will determine the sorting within that group. 1st place receives $250,000, 2nd $100,000, 3rd $50,000, and 4th-10th $7,000.


BS: You have stated that you see the democratic and technological aspects of ArtPrize as a way to "reboot the conversation between artists and the public.". Why do you feel that it is important to connect with the public in this way compared to traditional methods? Would you say that the meshing of technology within the art world is long overdue considering that many galleries are only now exploring the potential of the internet?


RD: I think it's important to use technology to enable conversation about art and directly connect artists to their audiences. It's really about creating an event and a system in which the public has real, tangible, and meaningful reason to give feedback on the art they are seeing within a particular framework (voting). Because of that, artists have a context to actively engage with that public. We're working to create another ecosystem of support for artists, within this broad context of discussion and engagement with all kinds of work.


BS: Would you say that art galleries in general should look into using communication technology in order to attract traffic and promote their artists? A few art museums are starting to explore said technology by offering iPhone applications. Do you think art galleries will eventually move in that same direction?


RD: Absolutely. However, I think the change is deeper than just starting a Twitter account or putting together an iPhone application--the challenge is to start thinking in terms of having and encouraging conversations between the institution, the public, and the artists and fundamentally empowering those participants. It's two-way communication--real engagement--and it's very different set of models and competencies than the broadcaster/gatekeeper model that is so core to industrial age thinking.

That's really the disruptive power of the web, mobile devices, and where technology in general is going. Moving in this direction of thought is unavoidable over time, and the whole art world will have to adapt. How this change of thought manifests itself specifically in models and technologies that are adopted--and how they evolve--is what I'm interested in being a part of and observing and contributing to with ArtPrize.


BS: As you know, there has been some controversy surrounding the competition. Some individuals appear to be wary of the concept of public voting. The main point of criticism focuses on the fact that ArtPrize does not involve a professional curator or jury panel and is instead decided by public vote. Some have stated that critics of ArtPrize are "art world elitists" due to the opinion they have concerning ordinary people voting on art. In fact, a few critics of ArtPrize have stated that the public is not "capable" of voting efficiently on art. What are your thoughts on this? Are the critics of ArtPrize "elitists" in your opinion? Or do you feel that they are simply underestimating the public?


RD: It's not an new debate or new controversy. Pick five influential web projects over the last decade and you'll see a similar debate about professionals vs. the public on almost every one. But it's interesting to note that yes, there is a lot of junk on Flickr, but there's also a lot of unbelievably beautiful work that's now accessible to everyone all over the world. Yes, there is a lot of nonsense on Wikipedia, but there's also more information about more things organized in a cohesive and digestible way than has ever existed before. ArtPrize is trying to do something new with an art event and an art prize, very much in the same spirit as these and other experiments in mass collaboration.


I think that a lot of the criticism of ArtPrize comes from not really understanding what it is, or declaring what it is before it's happened and calling it bad. I think that's funny because it's basically the equivalent of me standing next to a person as they're just setting up their easel to paint a landscape somewhere and screaming "That sucks! That's not going to work! what are you thinking! you're painting with OIL?!?! What a horrible decision!" There is a knee-jerk reaction from some quarters saying that we "don't understand art," we "haven't thought this through," we "just want to have a crass 'American Idol' for art" (never mind that we're clearly not a TV show), we "think art critics and professionals in general are worthless," we "want the most sweet populist work to win," et cetera. All of that misses the point pretty spectacularly.


The public is already "voting" every day. They're coming to gallery openings--or not. They're spending Saturday afternoons at the museum--or not. They're buying work at art fairs--or not. They're giving feedback every single day across the world with their time, attention, money, and word of mouth. ArtPrize is just gathering and organizing that feedback in the setting of an event, within the bounds of a basic framework of rules and processes, then using that feedback to award large prizes. Juried shows utilize professional opinion to screen on the front end what work is shown. Success and feedback is measured by attendance, sales, convincing that particular donor that she should give money to support x, y, or z program or institution, enhanced standing in the art world, or pick another of hundreds of other metrics and measurements.


We don't claim that the art that wins ArtPrize will be better than the winners of any other art prize or even that it will be the best art in the event. We don't claim that juries or curators don't work or that there is no role for them going forward. On the contrary, we are celebrating the role of those professionals both with what we are encouraging venues to do (work with professional curators to create high quality and cohesive experiences with the art they select to show) and what we will be providing during the event in terms of programming and education. The difference though is that these professionals are not going to be filters on the front end, but rather guides and authoritative voices within the experience as it unfolds, championing those artists and pieces that they believe deserve attention and educating receptive audiences as to why.


BS: ArtPrize has been called an "experiment" and a "work in progress". In fact, the rules of the competition have been rather democratic in nature in that they have been revised a few times based on artist feedback. Can you discuss what you have learned so far from the early stages of the first competition? With that in mind, how is ArtPrize different than other projects you have worked on?


RD: As stated before, ArtPrize is a conversation, not a broadcast. Working in that paradigm, it only makes sense to keep an open dialogue about the specifics of the rules. A lot of times the changes end up being clarifications, but sometimes the changes are responses to unique situations that are presented to us. So while we have core ideas and rules that we are committed to (public vote, etc.), there's every reason to be flexible with the other stuff because it's just going to make the entire experience better. It's very much in keeping with the philosophy that we've brought to other projects we've worked on--quick iterations, user feedback, and continuous improvement around a core set of ideas and principles.


BS: My understanding is that ArtPrize is destined to be an annual event. Will each year involve nearly $500,000 in cash or do you plan to increase the amount over time? Will it remain a competition with a strong focus on public voting? Also, have you thought about taking the concept to other cities throughout the United States? Or will the focus always be on Grand Rapids?


RD: ArtPrize is an unfolding work in progress. We look at the participation each year and how it stacks up against our goals of participation, etc.. The prize amounts themselves are one set of variables among many that we could consider adjusting. The specific structure of the public vote and all of the rules and impact of it are another set of variables that we'll be continually looking at. Right now we're very focused on Grand Rapids, because we love it here and believe in the city and the region, but I wouldn't completely rule taking or duplicating at least elements of ArtPrize elsewhere.


BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about ArtPrize?


RD: I'd just like to continue to encourage everyone involved in creating and showing art to join us. The opportunities are wide open. We're often asked, "What if I want to..." and the answer 99 times out of 100 is, "Yes." People aren't used to how open Artprize is and involvement can happen at many, many different levels--from an artist creating a single piece of work, to hosting a venue (there's a lot of space in Grand Rapids) around a theme or group of artists, to the gallery owner that wants to create a pop-up gallery experience in a vacant building to show work from artists they represent, and on and on. Think about the opportunities long-term, because this thing is only going to get bigger and better.


To folks in the art community that have concerns about professionals vs. the public, come and be our professional voices. Offer your services as curators to venues. Come to ArtPrize and identify the best and most exciting work, and we'll help to make your voice heard to all of the attendees. We come in peace


Take care, Stay true,


Brian Sherwin

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Topics: art appreciation | art criticism | Brian Sherwin | FineArtViews 

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richard kooyman
Rick Devos claims to want Artprize to welcome professional curators but has created a system that neither rewards them nor acknowledges them. You won't hear the word 'juried' from the mouth of Artprize,which is what a curator actually does, because it goes against the American Idol referendom against the art world that Artprize is. Artprize wants to replace knowledge with mass public opinion, an agenda often employed by the evangelical Devos Foundation that is the money behind Artprize.

richard kooyman
Rick Devos claims to want Artprize to welcome professional curators but has created a system that neither rewards them nor acknowledges them. You won't hear the word 'juried' from the mouth of Artprize,which is what a curator actually does, because it goes against the American Idol referendom against the art world that Artprize is. Artprize wants to replace knowledge with mass public opinion, an agenda often employed by the evangelical Devos Foundation that is the money behind Artprize.

Some people are just afraid of what the public will want to see in art because it may question the importance of the art they promote for money. They like to tell the public what to like.

The sheltered world of critics and high profile gallery owners only provide one view. Those professionals have been wrong so many times throughout the history of art. Most of the artists praised today in museums were hated by the art establishment of their time.

The public rarely agrees with their view. Some average Joe's are just as educated about art as a gallery owner. That is why art prevails over the opinions of critics and gallery owners. That should tell you something!!!

I've read the religious and political bashing of ArtPrize's founder before. What does it matter if the founder is a Christian and a conservative? Can someone explain to me why that troubles some people?

richard kooyman
@Glena, It matters because what people believe politically and in their religious ideology influences their actions. If you would like to read more about the Dick and Betsy Devos Foundation, the money behind ArtPrize@please follow this link.!/note.php?note_id=407928732254andrefid=21

Denise Stewart-Sanabria
I am an both an artist participating in ArtPrize for the 1st time this year, and a free-lance art critic for both Art Papers and Number,inc, an independent art journal from Memphis, TN. I'd like to add to Mr. Devos's commentary on the "elitism" involved in curating and jurying from art world professionals vs. public voting. In the past couple of decades, in the highest level of the art world involving museum purchasing and the extreme high prices paid for work by "branded" contemporary art, the "public" has had an increasing influence, eclipsing the role art critics, art historians, and and museum curators previously had. The "Public", in this case, are extremely wealthy art collectors, (some of whom are also branded gallery owners) that decide which contemporary art is worthy on the basis of what often comes down to little more than art as commodity trading in the branded auction houses, and fad trend marketing. A few might have art education of some kind, but you are more like to find people who are hedge fund managers, business owners, or who have varied sales backgrounds. Art should always be a fluid communication with all people, and experiments such as ArtPrize are a fascinating contibution to the conversation.

richard kooyman
Here is a better link to an article I wrote on ArtPrize and the Dick and Betsy Devos Foundation.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- I recall that we have conversed before over issues like this. I also recall that you seem to think that there is a conservative/Christian conspiracy going on against art-- that conservatives and Christians are trying to 'take art'. In fact, I seem to recall that you included me within that conspiracy at one point.

Since knowing of you I have noticed that you lump all Christians and anyone who has a conservative view together-- you have that 'Those darn conservatives and Christians are trying to take over art' mentality that is so common among fearful extreme liberals on Jerry Saltz Facebook Wall. You expect people to follow one extreme or the other-- no middle ground. I base that on things you have said in the past and your actions.

You said something I find interesting to Glena about Rick's personal choice of religion and political views. That being -- "It matters because what people believe politically and in their religious ideology influences their actions."... what of others Mr. Kooyman? What of art critics, gallery owners, and art museum directors who make the extremes of their social and political views known? Should we question them as well? After all, they are in positions that clearly impact how art history is documented. Think about it.

My point -- if you are concerned that Rick DeVos is one-sided because of his personal choice of faith and political opinion I would think you would have the same opinion of others who have made their religious and political views clear-- even if you agree with their opinions. In that sense, I don't think you are really concerned with one-sidedness as much as you are with securing the side that you agree with.

Some art critics have been debating as of late about extreme political bias within the professional art world that favors extreme liberal views. Political and religious bias already exists within the art world overall-- but since you agree with it you don't label it as one-sided. In a sense, you are what you fear-- you just don't see it because you can't see past your own prejudice.

That said, you only appear to be concerned about one-sidedness when the individual supports social, religious, or political views that YOU don't agree with-- when the individual has opinions that conflict with your obvious extremes. You fear that they are going to alter the direction of art because that is what you would do if you had the same reach.

If you were really interested in challenging one-sidedness as you see it you would not just be ranting against Rick DeVos as you have done for years. For example, art critic Jerry Saltz makes his political opinions and loathing of specific religions very clear -- does that mean you would suggest that his art criticism is one-sided? Is it?

Considering the impact that Jerry has on art-- could it be that art history is being robbed? Could it be that Saltz intentionally avoids writing about artists based on his own views of religion and politics? What of other art critics-- and of art museum directors as well? What about the top art magazines? With all of that in mind your big concern about one-sidedness is focused on ArtPrize. Really? I'd say your own one-sidedness is clear.

You are what you fear.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- before you point out what you assume are my extremes-- as you have attempted to do in the past-- I will say that my on-going series of interviews speaks for me and my intentions. I for one like balance -- and I'm not afraid of opposing ideas.

I've interviewed over 500 artists and a number of gallery owners, art critics, and others who work within the art world. A plethora of social and political views are represented. Do I agree with all of them? No. That said, I don't let that stop me from letting someone speak their mind.

I don't pick and choose based on my own causes. I prefer balance-- and an exploration of ideas-- over ignoring people on a professional level. Like you-- I enjoy a good debate as well. If a conspiracy does exist I'd suggest that there is more evidence pointing beyond the conservative and Christian conspiracy that you speak of.

richard kooyman
Mr. Sherwin,
My critique of ArtPrize follows the simple premise that when you have lots of money (or even if you have just a little money) and you create something new, you make the choices you make for reasons. Rick Devos created a art competition that is different than other art competitions and he made it the way he made it for reasons. It's important, and not one-sided at all, to want to question those reasons and their implications to the art world in general. And when you look at how ArtPrize was created it's fair to also look at the money behind ArtPrize. This is what my Facebook Note does.
The other thing my Note does is basic consumer information.I think it is important for all artists to know the facts about not only the Foundation behind ArtPrize but how ArtPrize actually works, which is different than the way ArtPrize says it works.
And just to clarify while you accuse me, Jerry Saltz and “fearful extreme liberals”Ě as being “one-sided”Ě eight separate times in your reply, I have never used that phrase in discussing Rick Devos or ArtPrize.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- there are several problems with your argument:

1.) You assume that all artists are strictly liberal-minded individuals -- which is simply not the case. Furthermore, by implication you suggest that only liberal-minded artists should have access to funding be it private or public.

2.) You assume that everyone living in Grand Rapids is "ultra conservative" and "Christian" -- and that because of that they have a set way of thinking about art. Did you ask everyone living in Grand Rapids? That is your prejudice of people living in Grand Rapids coming out.

3.) You imply that all Christians support conservative politics -- that is false. In your head every Christian votes Republican. You are wrong. That is your prejudice of Christians coming out.

4.) You imply that events like ArtPrize are designed to control how society will look at and enjoy the arts. Couldn't the same be said of art professionals who make their social and political views known? That goes both ways my friend.

5. You have said, "Do we as artists want a future where we are looked at as primarily entrepreneurs?". One could say that has already happened-- long before ArtPrize existed. Not to mention that artists who are successful selling have to pay taxes on sold work just like any other 'worker'. Welcome to the US.

6. You have said, "A world where creativity becomes something more valuable when it is thought of as good business?". Again, that has already happened on some level-- long before ArtPrize existed.

7. You have said, "Do we want local art's organizations, locally funded, providing programming selected ultimately by local boards trained to look at the arts as a commodity to be "leveraged"?". Again, that has already happened on some level-- long before ArtPrize existed.

8. You have said, "Who ever controls the context by which art is shown or talked about can control the content of art and how we will talk about it. This is what ArtPrize does. This is something we all should be concerned about.". One could say that about art magazines. One could say that about art critics. Why should we be concerned about ArtPrize, but not concerned about those other factors... and more importantly art museum directors since those institutions tend to involve tax dollars?

9. You have said, "Was it simply a good idea to bring business to the area restaurants and hotels or was it a statement, even a referendum against the established ideas of art in society today?" Richard -- what are the established ideas of art in society today?

10. You have said, "ArtPrize uses art and artists to stimulate the local economy of Grand Rapids. They say so clearly on their website, "Art is the focus of this competition, but community is the main event.". OK -- and that is wrong because? Isn't that the same thing international art fairs do to some degree? A thriving art scene-- including galleries and other venues-- tends to have the plus of stimulating economic growth. Why is that a bad thing? If ArtPrize is 'using' art and artists -- couldn't the same be said of art events in NYC, Chicago, Miami... and so on? Think about it.

richard kooyman

You seem to be repeatedly making the point that it's ok for ArtPrize to have an agenda because the established art world also has an agenda and my questions have no merit because the whole system is lacking some kind of Brian Sherwin idea of parity.

Why in your interview do you call ArtPrize unique? Why do you suggest in your questions that ArtPrize is non traditional in it's approach? You either think ArtPrize is doing something different (which we can continue to talk about) or you think it's no different than other things going on in the art world. Which is it?

ArtPrized is designed to control how people think about and look at art. In fact it is designed to project a more populistic, opinion based way of thinking about art. Why do my questions about the nature of that design and the effect it may have seem so unfair to you?

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- I'll put it this way... I don't really understand why you are flipping out about ArtPrize when-- based on your views-- there are other long-standing issues that should be dealt with that have further reach and influence than ArtPrize at this time.

Let us start over -- in your opinion what are the established ideas of art in society today? Why does ArtPrize-- in your opinion-- go against the grain of those established ideas?

Furthermore, do you honestly believe that all artists are liberal-minded-- both socially and politically? If not, why does it appear that you are only interested in a system that serves those artists compared to artists with views that are different than your own?

On top of that -- why does it appear that you are wary of all Christians. I'll remind you that some very influential artists associated with the Christian faith-- including Andy Warhol.

Brian Sherwin
Also -- if you honestly feel that there is some wide conspiracy of conservatives and Christians uniting against art... and if you feel that prejudice against conservatives and Christians does not exist within the contemporary mainstream art world... or if you feel that prejudice is deserved -- I'd be more than happy to allow you to express your view on FAV. Again, I'm not afraid of opposing views.

richard kooyman

I don't think I can help you anymore. If you would ask me your questions with the same professional respect that you did Rick Devos then I might be able to explain whatever point of my position you don't understand. But you seem so hell bent on attacking my logic that you ask these leading questions that include so much assumed or made up accusations that I no longer can tell what is a question from a statement.

There are real life concerns about a religious foundation getting involved in a big way with art and culture in this society. If you can't even consider that there may be issues that warrant questioning then there is nothing I can say to clear your mind on the issue.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- I'm not asking for your help. I'm giving you the opportunity to speak your mind to a rather large audience of newsletter subscribers. I was thinking more along the lines of an article by you-- not an interview.

The main issue I have with your stance is that you always appear to suggest that individuals should cut ties with anyone who does not agree with their social or political views. Society would suffer from a complete breakdown if everyone took that extreme position.

The DeVos family has long been known for being conservative and Christian. Fine. I'm not denying that. However, you suggest that because of that-- and what members of the family have supported politically in the past-- that artists should not take part in ArtPrize. I believe I've read you describe the cash prize as being 'dirty money' elswhere. You've even tried to make artists feel guilty for being involved with ArtPrize.

OK -- by that same view would you suggest that a worker cut ties with their employer over political differences? If your boss is a Republican and you are a Democrat-- should you quit your job? Should students drop out of college over political differences that they may have with professors? Perhaps those receiving welfare should refuse it because tax payers who have different views about politics and society pay into the system as well? That is your logic, correct? Tell me.

Perhaps a person needing emergency care at a hospital should refuse help becuase the doctor has different political views? Well? Which is it Richard? Since Christians are so evil perhaps all the people, including countries, that receive donations from Christian organizations should return that money? Right Richard? Right?
President Obama associates with the Christian faith-- do you turn your back on him and his policies? Tell me.

What exactly are you trying to "clear" from my mind? I live in the United States Richard... as do you. I respect the liberty of choice that US citizens have regarding their political, social, and religious views. I don't think the answer is to isolate oneself from anyone who has a difference in opinion. That is absurd.

I may not agree with someone-- but the form of isolation you appear to be suggesting would be the death of society as we know it. If you want to protest in that manner-- have at it.

I 'get' that you don't agree with everything the DeVos family has done over the years. I don't either-- but why try to pit artist vs. artist by implying that an artist loses integrity if he or she enters ArtPrize? I assume you would be OK if ArtPrize were ran by someone you agree with socially and politically? Correct?

Now if ArtPrize stated that an artist is against this, that, or the other by entering I would see how your argument holds some water. However, ArtPrize does not state a social or political direction. I just don't 'get' the fuss.

richard kooyman

I've never used the words "dirty money" nor I have ever made it a point to make another artists feel guilty for applying but now that you mention those terms they could very well apply.

Did you even read my article? We are not talking a about a Sunday school program run by a nice family that bakes cookies and tells bible stories on Sunday. The Dick and Betsy Devos Foundation has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and are a well organized machine that has work tirelessly to change public policy so gay and lesbian people cannot have the same rights as you or I. As Christian, Brian, are you comfortable with just letting that slide by?

Their family has been one of the leading proponents fighting to take away a woman's right to decide what she can or cannot do with her own body. Betsy Devos has been one of the leading organizers and a source of major funding to force states to change the law to allow public education money to be used in religious private schools. Do you think artists should be in favor of their tax dollars going to pay for private religious education? When Dick Devos ran for Governor of Michigan he ran on a platform that believed that scientific knowledge should be replaced with religious opinion and that intelligent design should be taught along side the sciences and religious prayer should be allowed in public schools. I could go on and on. Read my article.

I can't think of a single artist I know, even the ones I know who say they are religious who are in favor of any of these things I just mentioned. They see it as a dangerous move toward religious control of of our culture. The true artistic spirit should be against this constricting of personal freedom and religious control of our lives.

Now at this point in my argument I'm usually asked what this has to do with art or as you so disrespectfully asked " why am I flipping out" over these matters. (Are you this flippant with all the artists you interview Brian or just the atheists?)

What this has to do with art is control. The very same replacing of knowledge with public opinion that they have used to fight their political battles is applied to ArtPrize. And Dick Devos even admits it is a battle "for the future". Watch this...

ArtPrize uses the exact same tactic to change peoples minds about how they think about art as they do to change peoples minds about intelligent design, that is, replace knowledge, replace any form of expert in the field, with populistic public opinion.
And then the next step in cultural control is to take control of our art institutions and arts organizations. If you have ever watched the great documentary on the Barnes Foundation "The Art of the Steal" you learn that who ever controls the context of our institutions can control the content, which leads us to the new 'Dick and Betsy Devos Institute of Art's Management at the Kennedy Center' a 22.5 million buy in that provides workshops all over the country and internationally to arts organizations and institutions on how to best manage the arts.
Should not artists be just even a bit wary, have at least some honest concern about this Evangelical Christian Foundations foray into the management of their artistic lives? A foundation mind you whose very mission statement, the formal statement that is suppose to be the leading article of the foundation says....

"is to serve as faithful stewards of God's blessings through a focus on 1) Christian Evangelism through church building, family building, and youth programming; 2) Education through programs that provide support for parental choices in
determining where their elementary and secondary school-aged children attend school; 3) Public Policy that results in a freer, more virtuous, more prosperous society."

I can't see where this type of closed minded ideology is supportive in any manner to the creative spirit. I don't now of a single artists who would feel comfortable with any of this once they would find out it is this kind of politically and socially active foundation behind the concept of ArtPrize.

Do artists lose integrity if they participate in ArtPrize you ask. I think many of the out of state artists don't really know any of this background information. But I can't imagine any artist being supportive of the Devos Foundation's policies once they found out.

Would I be supportive of ArtPrize if it wasn't run by the Devos Foundation? It would help but the competition has major problems without being funded by a ultra conservative religious foundation. It's a slowly leaking ballon. The Grand Rapids news paper recently reported that the majority of artists that have been juried into the show so far this year are Michigan artists. I don't think that was the original plan for ArtPrize which saw itself as drawing national and international artists from around the world.
ArtPrize is not artist friendly. It cost a lot of money to exhibit if your an artists from California let alone Mumbai. And the majority of exhibition venues suck. Complaints abound of only artists in key venues getting exposure. The average voter just doesn't get around to see everything.
And artists are mislead. ArtPrize sells itself as a system where artists and venues are "matched" or "connected" when in reality the artists are juried by the venue owners. "Jurying" by peers or professionals is the very art world concept ArtPrize is rallying against. They want the public to believe that they are the real jurors.
Which brings us back to the whole American Idol point of ArtPrize. Is it a bad thing that the public gets to award the top ten prizes in an art competition. No, it's not a bad thing. It's a great economic development idea for the city of Grand Rapids. It gives viewers the false yet fun sense that their opinion matters and it has brought in 7 millions dollars in tourist money to the local economy.
But the more important question is whether it is a good thing for artists. Does it sustain artists careers, provide them with sales and income, and does participating put a feather in their resume of artistic achievement? Those are questions that obviously have some answering yes to, but I think a very good argument could be made and is made by answering no. And I think many have.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- I'm not referring to just comments you have made here. It is not hard to Google search in order to find other comments you have made about ArtPrize elsewhere”¦ including the ArtPrize blog. Obviously some of those comments are over a year old. That is just the researcher in me coming out.

I personally feel that 'gay and lesbian people', as you put it-- I try not to define people by their sexual preference-- should have the right to marry if they wish. That said, ArtPrize does not have a direct connection to choices the DeVos family have made in voting or where they have shown support politically. As I implied earlier, if ArtPrize clearly stated that a specific political agenda is part of the mission of AP your argument would hold some water.

Since artists don't pay to enter ArtPrize it is not like they are directly supporting the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation. If Grand Rapids has grown economically from it-- so be it. Are you critical of art events in other cities that end up raising millions beyond the events? I think it is reckless to disregard opportunities based on indirect connections-- if the majority of people shared your mentality few opportunities would be explored.

As for abortion-- I may not agree with it... but I do think a woman should have the right to choose. HOWEVER I don't think it is a medical practice that should be allowed on a whim per se. I say that because-- having worked in the mental health industry-- I've seen firsthand how such a big choice can cause emotional harm to women if chosen as if it is a trivial medical practice. Women should be as informed as they can be about the process and the implications-- both physically and mentally-- of the choice. It is not the same as having a wart removed.

As for taxes-- I personally feel that citizens of the United States should have more of a say as to how their individual tax dollars are used... where the money they pay in goes. Obviously a choice like that would not work for everything.

As for religion taught in public schools --- I think religions in general should be. Not just one religion-- but several... a World Religions type of class. 1.) I think it would help with religious tolerance-- which is obviously breaking down in our country. 2.) It would prepare college bound students because most will be required to take such a class. As for prayer in public schools-- I don't see anything wrong with a child praying if he or she desires to as long as all students-- no matter their faith-- have equal right to do the same. Now if you mean forcing all students to pray-- no, I don't agree with that.

The "true artistic spirit"? All I can say to that is that motivations of a few-- or a majority-- can't contain the spirit of art. There is no direct path that must be adhered to. Some create art for love, some for hate, and some simply for money lust. That is for the individual and art to figure out. You are basically implying that if artists don't agree with you they are not true artists... that is petty Richard.

The myth that all artists are united under one banner may hold up with first year art students-- but those who have been around the block a few times know that it is just a myth. You can't define every artist by your terms of what an artist can and should be-- to do so will only make you look like a fool. Artists are individuals-- not a collective of connected minds.

Richard -- this is not an interview. This is a debate. My tone with you has nothing to do with you being an atheist. I realize that because you know that I'm a Christian you assume that I'm after your head-- I say that because you clearly have a fear of Christians in general. Perhaps it is because you have not met any personally that are not out to judge everyone based on their choisen faith-- or lack thereof? I have interviewed artists who happen to be atheists, pagans, Muslim, Buddhist, Satanists-- I think one was a scientologist-- the list goes on.

As for control -- even if that is the case there are already long-standing systems of control within the art world-- within society-- that adhere to their own bias, prejudice, what have you. Most people will follow what they choose to follow as far as ideology is concerned. I don't think people are as sheepish as you imply.

You appear to be afraid that one social/political extreme will win out over another social/political extreme. I'm more interested in balance -- and I think that is why we don't see eye-to-eye on this. I've had this same kind of debate with Saltz and others-- and I've noticed in the last 5 years alone that fanatic extreme views within the art world are turning otherwise tolerant individuals into closed-minded jerks.

As for institutions-- again, one could say it is already controlled... and many have noted the bias that already exists. I'm more interested in balance-- and since many of these institutions received public funding I personally feel they should be expected to offer a plethora of ideas instead of catering to specific political or social views-- unless of course the public funded art museum, or what have you, has a specific direction-- a specific theme.

I'm tired of people being afraid of ideas, options, and choices-- and museum directors/curators that are more interested in voting booths than serving the public as a whole. Balance should come before using ones profession as a gateway for serving ones political party.

You say, "Do artists lose integrity if they participate in ArtPrize you ask. I think many of the out of state artists don't really know any of this background information. But I can't imagine any artist being supportive of the Devos Foundation's policies once they found out.". People have seen your opinions I'm sure... you tend to post wherever ArtPrize is mentioned. You've been beating this horse for years. Furthermore, I would think that most artists-- at least the ones I know-- would research before entering anything in the first place.

As for your complaints of how ArtPrize is structured-- they have also made several changes based on artist feedback. They make it very clear that directions and rules will expand as years go by. I believe they added a juried category based on that feedback. Question-- have you lashed out at Saatchi for public voting? If so, has it come anywhere near the criticism you have had for ArtPrize?

Does ArtPrize help artists? You could ask that of any artist opportunity. You could even direct it in different ways-- such as, does the common flow of curatorial choices at public funded art museums and other venues help the majority of artists? Does the mainstream art market itself help the majority of artists? Does the influence that mega-collectors have on securing their investments by means of media hype help the majority of artists? Perhaps you have not noticed-- but the majority of artists don't receive much help from the system that you feel ArtPrize is attacking.

Concerning the 'system' of the art world in general... why does there have to be one system in the first place? I think several already exist anyway if you think about it. There are worlds within worlds within the 'art world'.

I think what bothers the new traditionalists of the mainstream contemporary art world so much is that the Internet has forced a sense of democratization that includes public opinion concerning art that was not possible decades ago.

Prior to the Internet the loudest voices were the top art magazines... and ad sales if you want to be cynical... today someone like me can acquire a following. That-- I think-- scares the hell out of some art writers who started in traditional print because that was the only option.

I for one think the United States art community-- in general-- needed that boost is public interest. I see more people interested in art today than I ever did in years past. I see small communities starting art scenes, opening galleries, and simply more debate about art over all... and I think the Internet is directly linked to that increase in interest and support.

I'm getting off topic... do you have my email address?

richard kooyman
You can't have it both ways Brian. You complain that my position doesn't hold any water because there is no social/connection between ArtPrize and it's founders and yet you complain that there is some type of left wing social /political cartel controlling the contemporary art world.

Does anyone even read your these interviews?

richard kooyman
Also next time the Taliban puts on a art competition I'll let you know. It would be good exposure for you.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- I've implied the same to you... that you can't have it both ways. That said, even if ArtPrize had a clear political and social direction... I'd say that others foundations, if you will, within the art world are just as deserving-- if not more so-- of examination. ArtPrize is the new kid on the block-- what of long-standing 'systems' that cultivate public opinion concerning art?

As for liberal bias within the contemporary art world-- I know it exists. Art critics ranging from Ken Johnson to Ben Luke have implied that it exists-- I seem to recall that Johnson was just in a debate that involved that very issue. There are clear connections that show that it exists. Just read 95 percent of what Jerry Saltz posts on his Facebook wall and you see it alive and well.

Now -- if you think that ArtPrize involves conservative bias... show me the same level of evidence. Think of it this way-- which is worse? One art competition that may or may not involve prejudice... or a number of art critics, art historians, museums directors, curators and others who clearly have prejudice toward specific ideas-- especially ones they fear-- so much so that you can't find many examples of them writing/showing work that challenges their personal social/political views.

They have all the art education in the world-- but their criticism breaks down to their personal political and social motivations? Those are the people who document art history... not ArtPrize. Art is already controlled in that sense-- but that is changing.

Honestly -- can you list anyone beside you and your wife who have such strong opinions against ArtPrize due to "ultra conservative" connections that you feel dominate the event? Can you list 20 people who have been as vocal as you two about that assumed connection. Can you list 10? Can you even list 5? I'm not talking about people who have commented-- I'm talking about people who have written about the same ideas you have written about-- and influential figures within the art world who agree as well. Show me a list.

When I Google search 'conservative ArtPrize' I see you ranting page after page anywhere ArtPrize is mentioned. I really don't find that many examples of others writing about the same ideas you express concerning ArtPrize. We get it... you hate the DeVos family, ArtPrize, Christians, conservatives and probably anyone else who you feel is a threat to your way of thinking. You don't want balance-- you want a society that only upholds what YOU agree with.

What you and others fear is that perhaps the public can look past the facade-- can see that some professionals have not acted very professional for the length of their careers. The pages of 'influential' art magazines are no longer the bars surrounding the art world. The Internet broke the old system.

richard kooyman
It doesn't seem to matter what I say to you. You are like a stuck record. And I don't understand half of what you said in your last post.

Here is my point that your little conservative Christian mind just will not let soak's not MY way of thinking, it's ART's way of thinking.

Show you 20 people? Your kidding me right?

Why don't you show me 20 really good conservative Christian artists who have been ignored or abandoned by the "extreme liberals" who you fear run the art world. Not just 20 Jesus singing oil dabbers but 20 conservative Christian artists ( who are anti abortion, anti gay rights, the whole nine yards) who are doing really relevant, interesting, important work in the field.
I bet you all the money in my bank account that you can't do it.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- I'm a stuck record? Your record of criticism against ArtPrize is very clear-- you have been making the same rant for years... you have been asked by a number of people across various blogs to show more evidence that ArtPrize in itself is "ultra conservative" or if ArtPrize has a "Christian agenda" and have thus far been unable to do so aside from assumptions and theories.

My "little conservative Christian mind"? See-- your prejudice is coming out again. We have had this debate before and it almost always ends in you making personal attacks-- which shows so much for your character. If you want to debate I'm game-- but I'm not going to cater to your bigotry. You have issues sir-- a deep seeded hate for all Christians.

In many ways I'd say that I'm far more liberal-minded than you. My thoughts on balance within the art world is very progressive if you think about it. I'm not suggesting that ideas expressed visually should be put away so that others can be seen. I'm saying there is room for a world of ideas expressed visually in our museums, art galleries, and so on. I don't far ideas-- you do.

As for your challenge-- I already played that game with Jerry Saltz-- he backed out twice... and then changed the rules to the point it is almost absurd to go further with it. He went from saying that he would provide an exhibit space and a review to only wanting to see links to the artists websites for his own viewing. He didn't even want to bother reading their statements on why they explore conservative themes. He backed out. Furthermore, your challenge is a distraction from what you have been asked.

List anyone-- just one person... not counting your wife... who has criticized ArtPrize using words/terms like "Ultra Conservative" and "Right-Wing"-- I mean about ArtPrize itself NOT the DeVos Foundation -- and who feel that the real goal of ArtPrize is to spread Christian values to the masses. List one. Just one. Put up or shut up.

Don't list your wife-- don't list a close friend-- just list any other blogger, writer, what have you... who has made the same connections that you claim and toy with the same conspiracy theories that you toy with concerning ArtPrize being a societal mole of Christian virtue. Can you list one? Just one?

richard kooyman

It's just me. It's just my position. I'm not speaking for anyone else. Deal with it.

Your thoughts on some type of "balance" in the art world borders on paranoid. What are you even talking about in terms of "balance".
Are you saying there should be some type of rule that for every "Piss Christ" shown in NYC there needs to be a nice 'Jesus Tending to his Flock' painting? Show me when art ever was balanced?
OPen up your own Jesus gallery in Chelsea if you want. Who's stopping you? Don't like Art forum? Start Christian Brian's Art Monthly? Quite blaming some boogy person for your unhappiness with there not being enough Christian art out there.

And quit saying things that I or Jerry Saltz never said. All I do in my replies to you is correct you on things you said I said but never did. I never ever said ArtPrize has a Christian agenda. I said the Dick and Betsy Devos Foundation have a ultra conservative evangelical Christian social and political agenda.
And I said any artists in their right mind would and should be wary of it.

You like their agenda. You'd like to see more of their agenda in action. You like ArtPrize. I get it. Good luck with that position.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- you imply that artists should be ashamed if they involve themselves with ArtPrize due to the background of the DeVos family. You imply that if an artist enters ArtPrize it is as if he or she is agreeing with the things members of the DeVos family have supported politically. I find that interesting... that this is the only target you appear to have.

Charles Saatchi has done pr work for the UK Conservative Party. Saatchi is far more influential within the art world than ArtPrize, true? His business partner and brother, Maurice Saatchi, is the Chairman of the UK Conservative Party. Should Damien Hirst give his money back? Should any artist who has shown at Saatchi Gallery be ashamed? Let me know what you think.

Are people who have spoke highly of Saatchi and his influence in art-- Charles and his brother both collect art and are extremely wealthy-- part of some crazy right-wing agenda in the UK? If you are critical of ArtPrize I would think you would be critical of Saatchi Gallery and Saatchi Online.

From 2003 to 2009 the National Endowment for the Arts was headed by Dana Gioia -- he was appointed by President George Bush. Under Gioia the NEA got out of a 15 year slump. Due to Bush and Gioia the NEA received an increase in funding that it had not seen in years-- and many districts were served that had been neglected in years past. Should those who received funding from the NEA at that time be ashamed of themselves? Are they part of some crazy right-wing agenda? By accepting money does it mean that they supported Bush's policies? Let me know what you think.

You forget to look at individuals”¦ and you fail to understand that not everyone sticks to rigid extremes. Perhaps you do-- but that does not mean everyone does.

Brian Sherwin
Richard-- you said, "Your thoughts on some type of "balance" in the art world borders on paranoid.". If that is so-- would you say that the Democrats are paranoid for wanting more balance on the radio? Are the liberals within the Democrat party who want that "paranoid"? Just saying.

As for my thoughts on balance -- you can find my writing about that topic easily. By the way, artists who happen to be Christian don't just create "Jesus Tending to his Flock" type of images. You like to cling to stereotypes and the prejudice that you have toward Christians. I get it. Think of music -- your logic suggests that Amy Lee of Evanescence only sings about baby Jesus... or that Dave Mustaine of Megadeth avoids bad language because they are Christians.

You said, "And quit saying things that I or Jerry Saltz never said."-- there is one thing you should know about me Richard... when I get in heated online debates with someone I tend to take screenshots of what they have replied with.

I also research what people have said elsewhere about the topic-- and other views they have expressed online-- and save that as well. I have more than enough on you to reveal you for the bigot that you are. However, I don't feel like writing a 'gotcha' piece today. To be frank, you are not that significant in the grand scheme of things to expose.

richard kooyman

I remember the last time we had an email exchange. The closer things got to the truth the nastier you became in your name calling.

I think we are done here.

richard kooyman
And let me sat in closing, to clarify my position, and to follow in the steps of the great and wise Christopher Hitchens, that I believe it is literally and visually impossible to be a viable contemporary artists in today's day and age and subscribe to the Christian myth that you are born a worthless sod of a sinner. The psychology needed for today's artists is one of a powerful acceptance of self worth combined with a love of the battle against dogma, stigmatism, and hate, while the Christian philosophy is one of self righteousness over the beliefs of others and the dependance on ones identity being acknowledge and blessed by the idea of a God that has dominion over not only you but the world.
That is not the intellectual and personal environment where ideas of aesthetics and art can be explored and questioned and extended.
My belief,my friend is not bigotry but a belief in true openness and acceptance of real possibilities. Bigotry cannot be an intolerance of an ideology of intolerance of gay an lesbian people. Bigotry cannot be an intolerance of those who insist that their religious God is the one and only true god. Bigotry cannot be an intolerance of a group of people who insist that their morals are the morals that all of society should have.
And the true artistic spirit, the heart of creativity in all manners is intolerant of those that think it should be so.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- is that the best you can come up with? Another distraction. So Saatchi and the UK Conservative party is OK for art-- but DeVos and conservatives in the US are not? If you don't want to answer fine. As it stands I'd say that I just sank your battleship. I warned you that your argument had holes. :)

As far as I can remember we have only had contact on blogs and Facebook. We have not had an email exchange that I can recall-- and searching both email accounts that I currently use I am unable to find an email exchange with you. The only private exchange we have had was on Facebook.

Now -- if you are suggesting the use of 'bigot' is an example of name calling... I do think that you are a bigot. I stand by that. Deal with it.

Bigot: A person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudice; especially : one who regards or treats members of a group with hatred and intolerance.

One need only scroll up to read some of your comments about Christians here-- or search elsewhere-- to find that you are clearly intolerant of Christians in general. You loathe Christianity. You view Christians as oppressors. You can't see any good coming from Christians. I get it. I'm far more tolerant than you my friend-- far more progressive. After all, you can't move forward from the prejudice that binds you. That much is clear.

Again -- I'm calling for balance... and I'm saying that art does not have to be this, that, or the other socially or politically to 'be' art. We should not be afraid of opposing views expressed visually. I'm saying that art directors and curators at public funded exhibit spaces-- especially in regard to exhibits of living artists-- have a responsibility to serve the public... to serve tax payers... not their personal motivations or the political party they support outside of work.

Using political and social extremes to decide what is relevant in art is dangerous in my opinion-- though obviously it happens all the time. What have extremes done for you? You suggest that artists who enter ArtPrize are not "true artists"-- all because you hold your personal extremes over every aspect of life. By implication you suggest that artists must be politically liberal or they are not artists-- or at least not 'good' artists. That is childish my friend.

There is more evidence of extreme liberal bias within the professional art world than there is of extreme conservative bias in regard to ArtPrize. I'm the guy saying that more balance is needed overall-- art should not be controlled by one-sided political and social extremes-- yet you imply that I'm intolerant for thinking that.

Thanks for this back and forth. I enjoyed it.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- I read your last comment. You do realize that western civilization-- and the concepts we have of justice and so on-- would not be what it is had it not been for the influence of Judaism and Christianity. My point-- you don't have to agree with the religion, but it is absurd to imply that Christianity is worthless in respect to society in general.

Do you attack other religions as much as you do Christianity? Just curious...

Brian Sherwin
Also, you have Christian morals within you... due to a little thing called social conditioning. You know it is wrong to murder others. You know it is wrong to steal what is not yours. You know to treat people nice if you want to be treated nice. You know that it is good to help the poor. I could go on. Western society was a much harsher place prior to the influence of Christianity. In fact, one could suggest that Christianity is the backbone of western civilization.

I'm not saying that Christianity has not had its share of ugliness through the centuries-- all religions have... all groups of people have.

richard kooyman
Oh you really must be joking. Justice?
MIllions of europeans were killed in the name of your Christian God. Entire races of Native people have been wiped out in a genocide done in the name of your Christian ideals. Slavery and the oppression of women were condoned for centuries because it was deemed to be the Christian God's will. Over a million Vietnamese people and over 58,000 young americans were killed in a war that declared that God was on our side. George Bush declared God was on our side when we invaded Iraq and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
Clerics, priests and pastor have abused people hidden behind the cloth of your church. People like Jerry Farewell and the current pope have committed fraud and protected criminals and deemed innocent people as evil and sinful.
And you have the audacity to suggest to be human, to care, to love, to be just, to be kind, requires an acceptance of this great big made up story of god by man.
Christianity is the scar of Western civilization and the sooner western man comes to his senses and realizes that you don't need to be oppressed by a fairy tale the sooner we can get on to becoming better human beings.

Brian Sherwin
Richard-- I made it very clear that not everything about the history of Christianity and its influence is sunshine and sprinkles. Again, "I'm not saying that Christianity has not had its share of ugliness through the centuries-- all religions have... all groups of people have.". If you want to deny the positive influence of Christianity on western civilization and thought and only focus on the negative... be my guest.

We all know that religion can be used for bad things. Look at the majority of solidly Islamic countries -- even some of the more liberal ones have laws that make homosexuality punishable by death. Where is your criticism of that? Concerning Iraq-- would you like to talk about the number of Christians who have been murdered prior to and during the war? Thats right -- you don't care about those innocent people because they are Christians. They deserved it... right? They got what they asked for... right? They deserved to die for believing in their silly god... right? The should not have the choice to believe as they want... right? They are sub-human... right? Your hate is clear.

You say, "Clerics, priests and pastor have abused people hidden behind the cloth of your church.". Teachers have molested children as well-- does that mean education is bad? A certain liberal Democrat politician who is in the media right now may have had sexual relations with a 16 year old girl or at least talked to her about sexual scenarios. Does that mean all Democrats support statutory rape? Or that all Democrats are guilty because of an individuals choices? With your logic it does.

You say, "And you have the audacity to suggest to be human, to care, to love, to be just, to be kind, requires an acceptance of this great big made up story of god by man.". Don't argue with me. Argue with historians. If you don't want to accept the positive influence Christianity has had on western civilization and our basic attitude in regard to law and etiquette fine.

You say, "Christianity is the scar of Western civilization and the sooner western man comes to his senses and realizes that you don't need to be oppressed by a fairy tale the sooner we can get on to becoming better human beings." I take it you have not read much about Europe prior to Christian influence. It was dog eat dog-- and would have been far worse had Christianity not been introduced.

Your logic dictates that if bad things have happened because of something it should be pushed aside. You vote Democrat, correct? You do realize that many of the racial stereotypes that exist in the US today are rooted in cartoons that were critical of Abraham Lincoln? Care to take a stab at which party did that? The Democrat Party-- and Republican party-- both have had dark times in their past. Does that mean we should throw both aside? Maybe a country with no laws would be better? No conditioning of morals and attitudes in regard to law-- we will get rid of that as well, right? Back to the extreme dog eat dog days. You really want that? Think about it.

Richard-- are you the example of the "better human being"? So now you are basically implying that Christians are sub-human... and holding civilization back from the utopia you want. Given the context of your tone and what you have said about Christians here and in the past-- that is how I take it.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- let us try to get back on track. I'll ask again...

You imply that artists should be ashamed if they involve themselves with ArtPrize due to the background of the DeVos family. You imply that if an artist enters ArtPrize it is as if he or she is agreeing with the things members of the DeVos family have supported politically. I find that interesting... that this is the only target you appear to have.

Charles Saatchi has done pr work for the UK Conservative Party. Saatchi is far more influential within the art world than ArtPrize, true? His business partner and brother, Maurice Saatchi, is the Chairman of the UK Conservative Party. Should Damien Hirst give his money back? Should any artist who has shown at Saatchi Gallery be ashamed? Let me know what you think.

Are people who have spoke highly of Saatchi and his influence in art-- Charles and his brother both collect art and are extremely wealthy-- part of some crazy right-wing agenda in the UK? If you are critical of ArtPrize I would think you would be critical of Saatchi Gallery and Saatchi Online.

richard kooyman
I'm not implying Christians are "sub-human". I am implying that anything dealing with fair laws, good morals, and etiquette is not dependent on religion in any manner. And I suggest that you are completely incapable if proving that is it.

I never implied that artists should be ashamed. And I never implied that artists who entered ArtPrize are agreeing with The Devos family. You really love to use the word 'imply'.

I never said I was a Democrat and I never said I voted. I never implied or suggested or even agree with your incorrect view of history that todays Democratic party resembles the Democratic party of 50 or even 20 years ago. The same holds for the Republican party. Suggestion, read Howard Zinn's 'The People's History of the United States". It will change you life.

Today's Christians are holding us as a society back. That's a rather blatant fact. The radical right Christian Church insists on infusing government, education and medicine with it's arcane notion's and the moderate Christian church simple allows all this bull crap to go on, turning it's head at it's embarrassing step child . Instead of dealing with energy issues and the economy and health and happiness our public arena's are filled with arguing whether gay or women have the same rights as anyone else. Instead of putting our energy into issues such as global warming and health care we are talking about intelligent design. The ridiculous notion that god is watching over you but letting 300,000 people die in a Tsunami has stifled this country from what it can achieve. And you rationalize it all as simply personal choice.

As for your Saatchi question I already answered that.

Next question.

Brian Sherwin
Concernig Saatchi-- so it bothers you that he has "ultra conservative" connections?

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- you once said, "The issue of ArtPrize being funded by the Devos Foundation is a serious and real concern for all artists. This Foundation that is sponsoring ArtPrize was a major donator in fighting the rights of gay and lesbian people by Sponsoring Proposition 8, as well as donating to ultra conservative causes around the country. This is a serious issue. And all artists will have to personally ask themselves whether to accept prize money from a organization that clearly works against the true spirit of art, which is, freedom of ideas" Which by implication suggests that artists should be ashamed for entering.

There are several examples like this-- where you make it appear as if the artist is morally and ethically bankrupt if he or she enters due to the "ultra conservative" connection to ArtPrize.

richard kooyman
Nope. I'm not implying or suggesting shame. I'm encouraging being informed.

Would you enter a art competition run by the Taliban? Or a competition with lots of prize money and great exposure if it was run by Satanists? Why is this concept so difficult for you to grasp?

I answered the question about Saatchi.

Next question.

Brian Sherwin
Richard-- You clearly suggest that you feel artists, if informed, should not accept money from ArtPrize. So if an "informed" artist does accept money from ArtPrize -- does that mean you look down at them? I see that as playing the guilt card.

As for Saatchi you did not answer it here as far as I can tell. If you are cool with Saatchi that is fine-- but it really blows the sails out of your charge against Rick DeVos and ArtPrize. What about other art events that receive direct or indirect funding from what you view as "ultra conservatives"?

You did not answer about the NEA either. Between 2003 and 2009 the NEA expanded with a conservative at the helm. He was appointed by Bush. Are you suggesting that "informed" arts organizations should not have accepted money during those years due to the "ultra conservative" connection of the Chairman at that specific time?

As for your thoughts on atheism and suggestion that society would be better off without religion-- that people would become "better human beings". That did not work in Soviet Russia, Cambodia, or North Korea -- just to name a few. State atheism has triggered massacres of innocent people-- and tends to be associated with oppressive regimes. Artists don't exactly thrive in those settings. Strange that you only focus on the brutality that is sometimes spurred by religion while avoiding what state atheism has done to the world.

In fact, one could suggest that if you take religion out of a country the new gods become the leadership. If you want to worship at the alter of politics be my guest.

richard kooyman

Wrong assumptions. But I think you might be getting it so keep asking.
What I said was artists should be informed about ArtPrize and it they do understand the whole story more than likely would not want to apply.
You've complain that all I do is provide artists with information about ArtPrize and The Devos Foundation, the money behind ArtPrize. Why is that a bad thing in your mind?

You have stated that you pride yourself in your research ability yet so far you have not shown that my complaints on how ArtPrize doesn't disclose to artists how the acquiring of a venue really works, how it's design replaces knowledge with art with public opinion, isn't true or why that is not a bad thing for art. You also haven't shown that my information about how The Devos Foundation is deeply involved in ultra conservative religious think tanks and political organizations is not factual and correct.
The only thing you keep repeating is that you believe in balance yet I have no idea what that even means. Do you mean you think my information should be more "fair and balanced" like Fox News of Rush Limbaugh?

I have provided a lot of pertinent information about a religious Foundation's foray into the art culture and I've provide my opinion as to why that can be dangerous. If you think it is a good thing that a anti homosexual, anti women's rights, anti environmental, pro-school voucher, pro intelligent design, Dominion focused foundation, whose family is one of the leading ultra conservative religious political donators in the country, then you should provide that "balanced" information for artists. Go for it, I'm all ears. And I don't mean just saying that it is good for society to have this type of ideology because it balances the "extreme liberal" viewpoint. That's not really a argument. I mean tell us all how being all the things I mentioned about the Devos Foundation benefits artists. Tell us how being anti gay benefits all artists. Tell us how telling women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies benefits artists. Tell us why it would be a good thing for artists to support a Foundation who works at achieving those things in society. Tell us why it doesn;t matter what a person running for president, or someone on your local school board, or a corporation or a foundation believes, tell us why it doesn't matter what they believe politically or socially. I'd love to know your balanced opinion.

I'd suggest your review your history of the NEA under GWB. Your claim that it somehow "expanded" under the helm of a republican is lame. If you look at the yearly appropriations for the NEA it's budget grew at basically the same rate of growth that it always has. The reality is that the current budget of $167 million dollars is a drop in the bucket for a country this size. One new F-35 fighter in production will cost us $113 million dollars. In fact the Budget for the NEA in 1994 under Bill Clinton was 10 million dollars more than under GWB. Lets get those fair and balance facts of yours straight before you go trying to make a point.

The word Atheist is a word that really shouldn't exist. We don't feel the need to have a word for someone who doesn't believe in fairies or Satan, yet religious people feel the need to brand those who don't believe in their myth as if there is something wrong with them.
North Korea doesn't have some of the worst living conditions in the world because they don't allow your Christian religion in the door. That's completely absurd. They live in a state of terror because they have a fucking madman in complete control of their lives. Artists don't thrive in North Korea, doctors don't thrive, no one thrives and they would not thrive any better if they could read the Bible every morning. They would thrive if they were not oppressed to death. To suggest people must choose to either worship at the alter of politics or religion is a ridiculous.

I never said I'm "cool" with Saatchi. And I never said I have a problem with "ultra conservatives". A ultra conservative ecologist is a good idea. Ultra conservative economics might not be a bad idea.

Next question.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- I'm not saying that it is "bad" to inform people. My complaint is that the argument you have against ArtPrize could be said of several other competitions and events, including Saatchi Online, but for whatever reason you only focus on ArtPrize. In that sense, I would think you would have more credibility if you actively pursued other ventures that receive funding-- or other forms of support-- from what you would describe as "ultra conservative" sources.

ArtPrize is bad in your opinion in part due to those connections... but all these other opportunities that have conservative connections as well are good? They must be because you have not went on a crusade against them. That takes away from your argument-- as does your sudden flip-flopping on how you view conservatism in general.

Again, Charles Saatchi's brother is the Chairman for the Conservative Party in the UK. Saatchi and Saatchi have also done work for the party. Considering the influence Charles Saatchi has on the art world I would think you would want to make every effort to expose that "ultra conservative" connection while going after Rick DeVos and ArtPrize at the same time.

As for what you said of the NEA and what I stated... the info was from a NEA press release. Look it up for yourself. You also avoided the question... should people in the arts refuse that money because "ultra conservatives" have been involved with the NEA? Individuals who support the same things that the DeVos Foundation has supported have been involved with the NEA. So why are you not speaking out against the NEA as well? Why are you not informing people about that?

Don't flip-flop on how you view conservatism in general just to escape that responsibility-- and I put it that way because you appear to be on a quest to inform anyone you can about the connections of ArtPrize. Again, you would have more credibility if you were not so selective in your criticism.

As for what I said about state atheism-- my point is that your suggestion that people would be "better human beings" without religion is not exactly true. History shows us that when governments try to get rid of religion for the 'betterment' of the populace it normally has bad consequences... think of Cambodia and Tibet. Those are just two examples.

If you have not noticed countries that allow religious freedom tend to treat their citizens better-- and have more freedom overall compared to countries that don't allow religious freedom. So this idea that people would be better human beings without religion is rather foolish to say.

You have never had a problem with "ultra conservatives"? Well... then why do you have a problem with ArtPrize -- you use "ultra conservative" with almost every jab you make at them? Search 'Richard Kooyman ultra conservative' on Google-- you clearly have a problem. Stop flip-flopping.

ArtPrize is bad because of "ultra conservative" connections. Artists should be informed about those connections and think twice about being involved with ArtPrize or accepting money from ArtPrize. The NEA and Saatchi Gallery are good -- even though they also have "ultra conservative" social and political connections. Um.... ok.

richard kooyman
Oh Brian,
Now your just being petty.

In your mind everything I have brought up about ArtPrize is discredited , now, simply on the basis that I am not out crusading against every cause you can think that in your mind is also in the same camp.
If we follow that logic your art interviews must not be very good because you have failed to interview every artists there is.

Let me know when you want to discuss my points about ArtPrize because your other avenues of discussion have became tired many posts ago.

I still would be very interested to know why you think it is a good idea for artists to support an organization like The Devos Foundation.

Brian Sherwin
Richard-- my point is that you need to be very upfront as to why your only target is ArtPrize. With your logic the same arguments could be made of the NEA and many others sources of arts funding. I would say that there are bigger fish for you to fry...

One could say that Saatchi Online has the same kind of "ultra conservative" connections that you want artists to be informed about concerning ArtPrize-- and is far more influential on society than ArtPrize.

You are concerned with how ArtPrize will influence public opinion of art because of those "ultra conservative" connections and due to public voting. Saatchi Showdown also has public voting-- and again, has "ultra conservative" connections. So why ArtPrize and not Saatchi Online?

Is there a personal reason-- outside of political and social disagreement-- that you are wary of Rick DeVos and ArtPrize?

I'm not saying that artists should support an organization like the DeVos Foundation. That said-- I could turn the tables of your logic and say that you are OK with artists supporting the UK Conservative Party by being involved with Saatchi Online-- or by visiting the Saatchi Gallery. That is why it comes off like you are contradicting yourself.

You have suggested that anyone with a true artist spirit, whatever that is, would not want to accept money from ArtPrize after being informed about the "ultra conservative" connections backing it. Again, would you say the same of the NEA, Saatchi Online, or any other organization that supports the arts in some manner while also having-- somewhere in their history-- "ultra conservative" connections?

Should people be "informed" about the "ultra conservative" connections that some museums-- including art museums-- have and afterward avoid supporting those venues? If they don't avoid them they are not upholding the "true spirit" of art, right? If we follow your logic an artist should think twice about visiting an art museum.

I could go even further with your logic. Lets say an "ultra conservative" happens to buy a painting created by a very influential artist-- Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Shepard Fairey... take your pick. He or she has an obvious investment in the piece. Should "informed" people no longer acknowledge the artwork because an "ultra conservative" may profit from it? By viewing the artwork, by talking about, by being influenced by it -- the artist is also supporting "ultra conservatives", right? That is your logic.

I told you early on that your argument does not hold water. Now you are clinging to life boats by dodging questions, offering distractions, and flip-flopping on the very statements you have made since the first year of ArtPrize. You have discredited yourself.

richard kooyman
Oh for the love of God Brian. I told you like 10 posts back my interest in ArtPrize is because it is in my back yard. Politics is local first. Give it a rest. If I have time left over from running my own art career, my wife, my life and my local political issues I'll try to save the rest of the world.

Artists should be very concerned who is on the boards of local, regional and national art institutions. I don't know very many artists who are not concerned with David Koch's involvement with numerous cultural boards. The same should hold true for The Dick and Betsy Devos Foundation.

The NEA is not and was not George Bush's program any more than it is Obama's program. It is suppose to be a national program run under people with professional standards and qualifications.
Should I not have gone to a National Park because George Bush was president?

Here is a simple question, are you saying artists should not support ArtPrize and a foundation like the Devos Foundation? Or are you saying they should support them?

Simple question

richard kooyman
This has been a interesting dialog. Probably way to long for anyone to follow and at times seemingly bitter and to snarky but the idea of questioning who controls how we look at art is important.

We live in a good time in the art world. It is a time where things are very open. In a broad sense you are right Brian. There probably is at times a bias against religion in contemporary art. I think it is very acceptable to make art that is about the questioning of religion or the role of religion in society but not so acceptable to make art about,let say, the glory of God in a literal way. I think thats good. You don't. I think we have had enough religious mumbo jumbo in our world. The myth is dead and therefore any art supporting that myth could be rather stinky. Is there a Bible reciting Christian out there that is making interesting contemporary art. I'm sure there is.
Your unhappy with the contemporary art world. You see it as a biased unfair system to you as a Christian. I wonder if it rather is a matter that the Christian work you feel is being discriminated just isn't relevant.

In the end each artist has to decide what their political involvement in the world is. It's always a matter of a fork in the road but there can only be one good choice and one not as good choice. Thanks for debating which is which.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- I've enjoyed this entire debate. The differences we have in opinion would not stop me from buying you a beer. LOL

You said, "Here is a simple question, are you saying artists should not support ArtPrize and a foundation like the Devos Foundation? Or are you saying they should support them?"

I'm saying that unless ArtPrize clearly states political intentions-- for example, if ArtPrize stated that it does not support the gay community-- the political background of the founders son has little to do with the mission of ArtPrize overall. You can connect the dots and make any opportunity look bad due to connections-- that is the point I've been making by mentioning Saatchi and the NEA.

You say, "I told you like 10 posts back my interest in ArtPrize is because it is in my back yard.". Perhaps -- but one of your main arguments is that ArtPrize and the DeVos Foundation will somehow change how society views art. Obviously you are not just concerned with Grand Rapids...

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- You said, "This has been a interesting dialog. Probably way to long for anyone to follow and at times seemingly bitter and to snarky but the idea of questioning who controls how we look at art is important."

Which is exactly why I think you should write an article about that specific concern-- how individuals and organizations can control how we view art. Obviously that does happen-- one could say that art magazines have long did that... and they also have ads to sale. ;p

I'd be more than happy to write an article myself that focuses on this debate. If I do I'll have you look over it before I post.

You make assumptions about my position. I mention religious bias... and you know that I'm a Christian... so you automatically assume that I want to see paintings of baby Jesus gracing every art gallery in the country. I'm saying that artists who happen to be Christians can explore their faith in ways that offer an exploration of society that anyone may find interesting.

Artwork by an artist who happens to be Christian can be just as edgy and controversial as artwork created by an artist who is not. I'm not talking about Hallmark kind of images Richard.

As for Christianity and bias within the mainstream contemporary art world-- there are other issues as well. Christians and Christ are an easy target. Considering the problems in society today-- especially in the last decade-- you would think that there would be more examples of artwork exploring the pitfalls of other dominate world religions. You just don't see that.

I find it common that individuals who don't see a problem with Christ submerged in urine have a problem with other religious figures that are explored in controversial ways. There is a double standard. Exploring Christ in a controversial manner is viewed as freedom of expression-- and anyone who does not agree is "closed-minded", a "religious wacko" or "right-wing".

While explorations of figures from other religions are labeled as "hateful", "hurtful" or "harmful" to society by the same people who find, for example, Piss Christ to be brilliant. By the way, I don't have a problem with Piss Christ. That is probably a shocker for you. I also stood in support of A Fire in My Belly.

You said, "there can only be one good choice and one not as good choice.". That limits art my friend. That also assumes that the public can't handle a plethora of views expressed visually. I think the public can-- and I think it is long overdue.

Brian Sherwin
Also -- there is a double standard within the realm of art writing in the sense that writers-- who are typically social and political liberals-- generally mention an artists political and social stances IF they are in line with the writers views. Writers commonly add a 'gotcha' twist to their reviews against those who have opposing views. They have made politics a huge issue in art by being thrall to that one-sidedness.

If those views are not in line... that crucial information is often disregarded and only the artwork is discussed. You see this with famous artists as well-- writers rarely mention Warhol's faith... even though it was obviously important to him and part of the context of his work. Some writers like to cast Warhol as a God hating supporter of extreme liberal views-- when in reality that is not exactly the case. They are cultivating a view of Warhol-- the man-- that supports their personal opinions.

It is not a generalization to suggest that many art writers are liberal. Most are open about their political thoughts. One need only take notice of their statements and the politicians they rally for. When you have an influential art critic like Saltz making statements about how all conservatives are "maniacs" or suggesting that he will remove anyone who supports specific Republican positions that he does not agree with from his list you have to ask if that same hardline personal views-- and clear hatred for others due to their personal choices-- infiltrates his professional opinion on art.

Unfortunately, it appears to me that many of those same writers have a difficult time separating their personal views in regard to their professional positions. In that sense-- and when you consider that many of these individuals have involved themselves with museums in one way or the other-- it is clear that the public is not receiving a full examination of art and how it is impacted by a plethora of social and political views today.

Even your views could be considered a double standard in the sense that you are warning about how public perception of art can be shifted by organizations that you don't support personally while having no issue with organizations that you do support doing the same. Again, if ArtPrize made a direct call against specific social/political issues I would call them out for it. I just don't see that.

When I say I want balance part of that means that I want to see art history documented truthfully. That will not happen as long as influential critics, museum directors, and others continue to push their personal agendas by adopting a position of avoidance rather exploring the whole of art and the various positions that artists tend to have.

It is absurd to suggest that all artists are social/political liberals-- or to suggest that all conservative-minded artists and artwork dealing with conservative themes is "bad" from a technical standpoint. Coming from a professional like Saltz that is merely a cop out. The intolerance is clear.

I've interviewed 500 artists. Now I know that is not many when you consider the number of artists creating today. However, one thing I noticed of those who do have conservative views on some issues is that they avoid mentioning it in the professional art world. Artists tend to tell me things in private. They won't list their political affiliation or rally for causes because they are concerned that it would be career suicide. The same goes for listing religion unless the religion is something other than Christian.

You may suggest that those artists are just being "paranoid"-- but then I remind you of some of the statements Saltz-- arguably the most influential art critic in the United States at this time-- has said about conservatives and Christians... specifically those who consider themselves Republican. Again, can Saltz separate his personal views from his profession? You tell me. That is what those artists are concerned about.

Then you have to consider the number of artist-ran organizations that are supportive of conservative-minded artists or Christian artists that are aware of liberal bias within the larger art world-- some dating back to the 1970s. Are those artists all "bad" artists... are they all "jealous" or "paranoid"... or could it be that they have real concerns based on experiencing professional prejudice.

As for creativity in general-- we have seen the same problem in Hollywood and within the music industry... creative individuals who have experienced prejudice due to their personal political, social, or religious views... that has been well documented. However, for some reason when someone mentions the same of the art world suddenly artists and others with concerns are just "jealous" or can't accept that they "suck"-- or whatever.

The Internet will offer light on all of this-- and I predict that several of the most influential voices in art today will be looked back on as intolerant individuals who approached art in a socially and politically opportunistic manner rather than giving a damn for offering a true examination of the art of the day.

I also think that certain individuals fear that repercussion-- which is why they try to deny the existence of certain directions and themes in art-- especially in regard to hot issues of today. They have to keep the facade up for as long as they can-- because once people start to explore this-- as they have done with Hollywood and the music industry-- the validity of their contributions will be in question.

Richard, you have to understand that I've been warned that my views on this matter will block me from ever writing for a "serious" art publication. I've even been told that I should not openly state my personal choice of faith. I refuse to be silent-- or to hide aspects of my self just to please others. I've made a decent living from writing about art... there is no reason for me to hide who I am or to put up a front so that I fit within the "one good choice".

richard kooyman
I like beer.

I think your position, especially pointed at Mr. Saltz forgets one major factor. The history or American art for the last 30 years has shown a constant attack on artistic freedom from the right. The religious right has attempted to shut down the NEA incessantly. Recently they tried to defund NPR and PBS. Artists such as the NEA Four and Mapplethorpe were attacked and their work and careers impacted. Our literature, our music, our visual art, even our comedy has at one time or another and even continues today to be attack by the religious right. It has been attacked and questioned, label as sinful and demands made that it be censored and even prohibited. These actions have been reenforced and even carried out by the republican party and I think that is what Mr. Saltz is referring to. And for that I totally agree with everything he has said on the issue.

One thing that you can't deny is that designing a competition where knowledge about art is replaced with popular opinion is a socio/political stance.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- I have theory on that. You can't deny that the art world-- especially in the last 30 years-- has had a clear liberal visual standard, so to speak. The most hyped art tends to express liberal social and political views. That is clear to anyone who picks up an art magazine. If there had been more balance I don't think members of the extreme right would target art as much as they do.

If you look at the core of complaints from conservatives who have 'attacked' art much of it has to do with the concern that tax dollars are being used to promote specific social views that happen to be very political in nature. In fact, some of their complaints are close to the complaints that you have-- they are just on the opposite side of the fence. Often they 'attack' it as a political tool to trigger support from those who agree with them-- because they see common trends in art as a political tool as well.

You also neglect to mention the fact that liberals-- including specific Democrats have worked to censor things as well. I'll have to look it up, but I know for a fact that a few Democrat politicians have worked towards censoring video games due to guns and violence.
Republican politicians have as well.

My point-- if the art world were more open-- more balanced-- and lets say conservative themes in art were given clear consideration... or lets say the policies of President Obama were explored visually in the same manner as Bush's policies were explored-- I have no doubt that we would eventually see Democrat politicians strive to have those exhibits shut down. They would be labeled as "hateful", "racist", and who knows what else by liberals.

It is easy for a political party to come off as the savior of art when the common trends in art-- especially in the last few decades-- serve as a voting tool for that specific party.

Let us be realistic here-- do you think Democrat politicians would have been OK if the NEA had backed art that questioned homosexuality and that focused on relatioships between a man and a woman? Do you think Democrats would have been OK had Serrano's 'Piss Christ' been 'Piss Muhammad' instead? What if the NEA back in the day had supported a series of photographs exploring the ethical concerns of abortion? Not just in a religious sense-- do remember that some atheist are against abortion as well. Democrats would have been all over that.

Remember the 'target' issue with Palin's website design or whatever the issue was. I did not see ANY liberal pundits complaining about works of art that involved targets over Bush's head. Now I know a design and a work of art are two very different things-- or at least they can be... then context may be different... but a target is a target be it over a district or a specific politicians head. There is a double standard.

Also -- I can recall an exhibit in Chicago that involved artwork that was critical of Islam. I seem to remember that college students who happened to be liberal were up and arms over it-- even though the artwork was created by an artist who happens to be Muslim. I also remember an exhibit that examined communism in a negative manner that was protested as well. Liberals do protest-- and attempt to censor art-- it just does not make big waves in the media for whatever reason.

I'm not so sure-- is Saatchi Online making a socio/political stance? Perhaps if we think on terms of how you view things. It depends on how you look at it I suppose.

richard kooyman
You can make up all kinds of scenarios but the simple fact is you can't have a little bit of artistic freedom. You can't dictate artistic freedom or it isn't freedom. It wasn't the Democrats that rallied against the NEA it was the republicans and they did on moral grounds. Not on budget shortages, not because the were feeling grumpy that day. They did it because the art work in question didn't fit their idea of what was proper art. They didn't want tax dollars going to something that they found morally offensive.

I believe Art is worth supporting with our tax dollars. I believe the world would be a better place if our military budget was switched with our current NEA budget. You either believe art is worth supporting as a society or you don't. You either believe artists should have completely freedom to create the best they can or you don't.

Their is no such thing as balanced artistic freedom.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- You clearly only support a direction of art that goes along with your personal political and social choices though. That is a problem in itself.

Again, Democrat politicians as well as liberals in general have rallied against images that they did not agree with. If the NEA had funded projects involving those same kinds of images I'd say it is clear that they would have rallied against it as well. Do you not agree?

If the NEA had funded a project that the majority of liberals find offensive do you honestly think Democrat politicians would have stayed hush, hush?

Artists will create the best they can regardless-- but will that work have a chance to be seen? Not within a system that already caters to political bias. You just have the comfort zone of being within the status quo.

Artistic freedom does not exist within the contemporary mainstream art world-- especially among key professionals. We see the same views, the same ideas, over and over again-- to the point that Saltz himself has implied that things are getting boring. Why not spice things up? Why not shine some light on views-- specific themes-- that never see the light of day within that world?

Brian Sherwin
Also -- I'm not suggesting that certain themes/subjects should be banned. I don't fear ideas. I'm pointing out that double standards and prejudice already exist. You seem to be afraid that the tide will turn and that the art that you personally find acceptable will be placed on the back-burner of culture. You are the very thing you fear.

I don't want a 'this or that' art culture-- I want one where ideas are seen and discussed... not pushed aside because the museum director happens to be an outspoken liberal or because the critic is more worried about how he or she will appear to peers than offering a legitimate examination of art today.

richard kooyman
I have no idea what you are referring to when you say there are certain conservative themes of art that are being "banned" by the "liberal" art world. Maybe you could give some examples.

Good art is liberal. Good art is open and willing to look at new possibilities and ideas. How can you be against that? I want liberal curators, liberal museum directors. Why wouldn't you?

Now if you mean to suggest by conservative that traditional themes or styles of art don't get shown in the major museum of America well that just not true. The have been great shows over the last year on Burchfiled,Porter, Marin, heck even the upcoming DeKooning show can been thought of as traditional today.

Lets be specific, what ideas or themes are not being shown in the art world today because of "liberal" bias? Where is the double standard you keep harping about?

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- "Good art is liberal" -- it can be good art... but so can art dealing with things outside of liberal social and political views... so can art that is critical of liberal social and political views.

You say, "Good art is open and willing to look at new possibilities and ideas. How can you be against that?". I'm not against good art. I'm against people like you who feel that the only way art can be good is if it sticks to specific social and political ideas. Why do you want art to be bound to specific social and political views?

Don't you realize that the same things you assume ArtPrize will do are some of the same things you accept as long as it fits your social and political views? Again, you are what you fear. You are what you are against. The difference is that ArtPrize does not mention a specific social or political direction-- you do. You want to contain art to politics-- specific politics. Anything else "sucks" -- you have made that clear on comments on the ArtPrize blog.

I have already gave several examples of what you won't see shown in the mainstream contemporary art world of today. I have mentioned art critics who agree.

Art critics Ken Johnson, Irving Sandler, and Amei Wallach recently debated this on the Leonard Lopate Show-- they discussed how orthodox the art world has become.

In fact, it was stated that the art world has become a "liberal festival" and that the only thing that might be shocking in the art world would be to see some "ultra-right-wing artist rise in prominence". As I mentioned earlier, the art world has been in a social and political comfort zone for decades -- the ideas that tend to be explored are the same ideas over and over again.

Ken Johnson: "Art can appear in almost any form, but the orders of the art world are pretty tightly policed ideologically. You see very little... there's no tea baggers art at any of these fairs. There's a lot of kinds of expressions or sensibilities that aren't allowed in these. You could say that it's a "liberal festival.""

Ken Johnson: "The politics of the art world are very orthodox. So the only thing shocking that might happen in the art world that would be shocking to people in the art world would be something that really veers away from that particular orthodoxy..."

Edward Winkleman mentioned this on his blog-- saying, "Most people would agree that the avant-garde is dead (and, along with it, its relentlessly progressive march), and so, even though it may take some time, I do expect to see highly conservative values being expressed in competent art work more and more. I told Ken this recently, and he said it wouldn't matter... because people like me wouldn't show it in galleries."

So -- we have three influential art critics debating this... and a very influential gallery owner adding his thoughts... yet you are scratching your head when I mention double standards and bias. How can you argue this when an art critic like Ken Johnson implies that it would be difficult for good art that explores conservative themes to be shown in a NYC art gallery?

If I asked you to list 5, just 5, recent art exhibits in NYC that that focus on conservative themes explored by a living artist you would not be able to do it. If I asked you to list 2, just 2, you would not be able to do it. Hell, if I asked you to list 1, just 1, you would not be able to do it. As Johnson suggested, the professional art world is tightly policed-- one could say, tightly controlled-- some ideas/themes are intentionally avoided. And you find that acceptable? Why do you find that acceptable?

richard kooyman

What is your definition of conservative these is art? Give me some examples of art that you feel is politically and socially conservative that is being excluded from the art world. Seriously. I have no idea exactly what you are referring to. I need an example.

I am intrigued by the idea and accusations surrounding this event. It is nice to see that conservatives are starting to get their hands dirty in the art community - and standing up to the pre-conceived notions of the establishment. The comments are rather interesting, although unsurprising. It has been my experience over the years that Mr. Kooyman's prejudice and narrow-mindedness are the standard among liberals, artists and the elitists who pine over their dwindling control over culture in America. As a conservative political artist, I find the tooth gnashing amusing.
Mr. Kooyman, there are many fine examples of conservative art; I cannot list them all here. You are welcome to take a gander at mine if you wish. If you are interested in a list of links, I would be happy to provide one. This is not an invitation for online harassment, however, and I would appreciate the same level of respect that you would extend your peers. Any genuine discussion of art and motivations is appreciated regardless of your views or mine.

I can personally attest to the fact that galleries don't show work based on ideas. I have received rejection letters stating that my work is good, but cannot be shown on the basis of philosophical differences. Atlanta may not be NYC, but it has no shortage of art galleries, festivals and gallery districts. There is a wide range of work of merit as well as the typical junk that clutters gallery walls. However, the only work that is obviously conservative on display falls almost entirely into the realm of kitsch, and you only see it at festivals. This is not for lack of quality conservative minded-work. It is due entirely to bias in the art community.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- I've already mentioned examples of themes. If Ken Johnson, Irving Sandler, and Amei Wallach AND Edward Winkleman know what I'm talking about-- they have obviously taken notice of the same issue-- I find it hard to believe that you don't.

I bet you loathe the fact that I can list 3 art critics and a very influential NYC gallery owner who realize that liberal bias does exist within the contemporary mainstream art world. To the point one described it as a "liberal festival". You said I was paranoid early on-- are they paranoid as well?

Again, one issue you have with ArtPrize is that you think it is a scheme by the DeVos Foundation to try and control how art is viewed by the public-- viewed in a "ultra conservative" manner. Clearly one could say that the contemporary mainstream art world is already controlling how the public views art by intentionally avoiding specific themes expressed visually-- and sticking to an "ultra liberal" game plan. You don't have a problem with that form of control?

If you really are concerned with control and public perception of art I fail to understand why you are not concerned that 4 professionals who have worked years, some decades, in the art world notice the political bias that exists. That is... unless you want it to be controlled and are content because you fit within the comfort zone of the status quo-- and are fearful that things may change.

richard kooyman
Be nice.

I'm asking you for examples of conservative artists work, artist who consider themselves and their work politically conservative who feel their work has been excluded from the art world.

I know you have given the names of art writers who have talked about political issue in art but I'm asking you for examples of of this large group of artists who you seem to think are being disenfranchised someone by the current art world. It's a simple honest, straightforward request.

You have and continue to make this argument (in every post) that the current art world in general is controlled by a "liberal" political elite and that you feel that there needs to be more balance brought into the realm. I'm simply asking you to provide me with some examples of this group who you claim is being kept out of the art word because their work is politically to conservative.

richard kooyman

Thank you very much for joining the discussion and offering yourself up as an example of the type of artist that Brian is suggesting has been disenfranchised by the current art world.

I took a look at your website and I can attest I don't think I have ever seen anything quite like it.

Here is my question that I am puzzled about. Your website is filled with the promotion of individual freedom and liberty. Why isn't this ideology extend to the art world? Why isn't it a personal choice by a gallery to say they are not interested in your work? Why do you assume their is sometype of "liberal" conspiracy at work to keep you out? Why isn't it simply a personal choice that they have made knowing that their cliental would not be interested in your work?
Isn't this the very freedom you are rallying for?

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- Looks like Frances provided a world of information. Including a list. That would be a good start for your research.

There are entire websites devoted to artists who feel that liberal bias exist within the art world. There are groups that have been around since the 70s that support artists who happen to be Christian and conservative. If I can find them-- so can you. Do a little research about a topic you obviously don't know much about OR have never cared to know about. I'm not your teacher.

You know just as I do that you will find faults with any specific artist I mention no matter how good the art is technically or from within the context of art history and practice. I'm not going to turn this already lengthy debate into a bash/defense session over specific artists nor am I going to subject them to the trolling approach that you have been known for involving several blogs.

I can already see your comments for them now if I did list some, "This artist is supported by ultra conservative art writer Brian Sherwin who supports the ultra conservative ArtPrize. They are trying to control art because they are right-wing... blah, blah. blah." on EVERY blog post about the artist.

That is how you work. Don't believe me-- Google 'Richard Kooyman ultra conservative' and just look at how many times you show up on blogs with your copy and paste approach whenever ArtPrize is mentioned.

You want me to prove my point by listing specific artists-- yet you avoid that I just listed 3 influential art critics and 1 VERY influential gallery owner who ALL suggest that liberal bias exists-- and that conservative themed art is pushed away.

You have avoided answering several questions that I've asked throughout this debate-- if you want to continue answer the following questions:

Richard-- you suggested early on that I'm paranoid for saying that liberal bias exists within the art world-- for saying that specific social and political conservative themes are avoided by the majority of mainstream contemporary art world professionals-- and for saying that artists who do happen to be conservative-minded socially or politically often keep that information private out of concern for facing professional prejudice. If I'm "paranoid" does that mean that Ken Johnson, Irving Sandler, and Amei Wallach AND Edward Winkleman are paranoid for bringing up the same issue?

Is Ken Johnson "paranoid" for suggesting that the mainstream art world is a "liberal festival"? Is he "paranoid" for suggesting that at this time conservative themed art or artwork by an artists who is openly conservative stands little chance of getting past the art world police, if you will? Is he "paranoid" for suggesting that no matter how 'good' the artwork is influential gallery owners like Winkleman would never show it? Is he "paranoid" for bringing up this form of prejudice?

richard kooyman
I'll make a promise to you. You provide me with examples of artists who you believe have been disenfranchised by the current art world because of the political nature of their work and we will not talk about the work itself. I promise.

You entire response to my position about ArtPrize has been that my position is lacks "balance" because there is a whole world of artists that have been disenfranchised by the "extreme liberally controlled" art world. I'm simply asking you to provide examples of your claim.

I think you will not provide me with examples because it they don't exist for the very same reason I gave Frances. It's a galleries choice whether a they want to show your work or not. If you believe that there lacks galleries and museums that will show Christian themed art work and that there is a body of conservative artists who are disenfranchised from the a market and that there is a populace of collectors and viewers that want to see work like France's or work that is about God or patriot fighters than why isn't their a gallery that shows that type of work. Who do you claim is stopping anyone from having that type of gallery?

Brain, in all due respect, you are no Ken Johnson or Ed Winkleman. If he is such a comrade of yours why don't you use your real name when you post on his threads?

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- you have avoided answering at least a dozen questions that I've asked you-- questions that pinned your logic concerning ArtPrize to the wall.

When I back you in a corner you either insult my faith or avoid what has been asked. When that does not work you start to fabricate things about me or rant about how I'm not known-- as you have done at least twice before.

I have been extremely tolerant of what most would view as trolling. You are what you fear. God bless you Richard-- take care.

richard kooyman
I take it that means no.

Brian Sherwin
It means that no matter what I say-- no matter if facts show that you are wrong-- you will offer distractions from that point or just avoid what is said.

I'll try this one last time...

If I'm "paranoid" does that mean that Ken Johnson, Irving Sandler, and Amei Wallach AND Edward Winkleman are paranoid for bringing up the same issue?

Is Ken Johnson "paranoid" for suggesting that the mainstream art world is a "liberal festival"? Is he "paranoid" for suggesting that at this time conservative themed art or artwork by an artists who is openly conservative stands little chance of getting past the art world police, if you will? Is he "paranoid" for suggesting that no matter how 'good' the artwork is influential gallery owners like Winkleman would never show it? Is he "paranoid" for bringing up this form of prejudice?

richard kooyman
I have no idea if Johnson, Sandler, and Wallach brought up the same issue. You don' t provide a link to your claim and yet you ask me to determine whether Ken Johnson thinks the same way yo do by quoting 2 words.

I've already answered you tired little question by saying the art world is liberal. It is suppose to be liberal.If Ken Johnson says it is a "liberal festival" I agree with him. I would think it could be nothing but liberal in ideas, thoughts, possibilities attitudes.
Why in the world would you want it not to be liberal?

Your position I assume is different than Ken Johnson in that you are paranoid that there is an " extreme liberal" type kabala that is disenfranchising a particular group of artists. And I simply ask you to provide me with examples who those artists may so I can have some idea about just what the heck you are talking about and you refuse.
What is any person suppose to make of that?

I take no issue with any of your questions. Galleries, as private entities have every right to decide what they represent for any reason they choose. I have never said otherwise. If you knew me better, you would understand the absurdity of such questions. However, the art community screams freedom of speech at every opportunity and demands open-mindedness they do not reciprocate in regard to views they find offensive. The reason most 'conservatives' find this objectionable, is the large quantity of public funding poured into art that they would not themselves support.
I fully recognize my responsibility as an individual to promote my work and create a market for it if necessary. I spend a great deal of time doing so. In fact, I no longer waste my time submitting to galleries. The issue I have with the art community is the blatant double-standard. I have been called everything from ignorant to a fascist because my work is politically conservative. I have been told to quit being so confrontational and go paint something pretty. Meanwhile, local galleries continue to hang work that belittles and reviles America and George Bush; whom you will see on my web page is not someone of which I am fond. Why is there no place for work that questions the Liberal agenda?
I make no demands, nor do I have any expectations. I pride myself in the fact that I not only do not apply for federal funding, I will not work directly with an organization that receives all of their funding through public means. This makes what I do more difficult, but it is a matter of principle. That is why, when I hear the art community talk about freedom of speech, I wonder why they only want to see the expression of certain ideas.
My opinions come entirely from personal experience. It is understood that you are a Liberal if you are an artist in the city of Atlanta and I suspect it is much the same around the country. This would not be relevant if it had no bearing on the representation of work that is clearly influenced by bias and prejudice.
I don't know the particulars of your dispute with the author of this article or the organization in question. I do, from your comments, find it odd that you would question me as to why a gallery is obligated to show my work, which I did not imply, after you called into question the motivations of the event organizer. It seems to me that the situations are identical philosophically and that there should not be any questions of motives or rights in regard to the event at all. Whether or not the public should have an opinion of art is an entirely different conversation, but I find the implication that they should not a little odd.

richard kooyman
Thank you for your comments. A couple points of fact: The current budget for the NEA is currently around 167 million dollars. That is the total amount of money of tax dollars that goes to funding the NEA and it's offices, and the programs that the NEA currently funds. There are a limited number of individual writers grants that the NEA funds but the NEA has not funded visual artists grants for many years. That means all the the money that is granted out goes to organizations and institutes such as a theater company or a community art program. That is the complete amount of money that the government spends on encouraging, supporting, maintaining, and cultivating the arts in the entire country.
The recent government figure on the Pentagon's new F-35 fighter jet is 113 million dollars...each. And we will order over 2000 of them. So your claim that a "large quantity of public funding poured into art" really isn't factual. It's a drop in the bucket.
I did not claim that any gallery is obligated to show your work. IN fact just the opposite. The freedom of choice you claim to love applies to galleries as well as people. And I in no way implied that people should not have a public vote in ArtPrize. I am pointing out the implications of a art competition design with such a public vote solely in mind.
You ask why there is no place for art work that questions the liberal agenda? You tell me. If there is a market for art work that "questions the liberal agenda" surely someone would open such a gallery would they not? What double standard are you referring to? Who is it specifically who is applying that double standard in this free market economy?

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- I have no reason to lie to you about what Johnson said. You could have found an article about it easily with a mere Google search of 'Ken Johnson liberal festival' --

Plus, I provided more than 2 words. This is what I posted earlier-- far more than 2 words.

Ken Johnson: "Art can appear in almost any form, but the orders of the art world are pretty tightly policed ideologically. You see very little... there's no tea baggers art at any of these fairs. There's a lot of kinds of expressions or sensibilities that aren't allowed in these. You could say that it's a "liberal festival.""

Ken Johnson: "The politics of the art world are very orthodox. So the only thing shocking that might happen in the art world that would be shocking to people in the art world would be something that really veers away from that particular orthodoxy..."

I just don't 'get' your argument. This started with you bashing ArtPrize for being "ultra conservative" and concerns you have that AP is trying to "control" how the public views art-- but you are OK if the art world is ultra liberal and doing the same? I'm saying there is room for both-- and it should be expected at public funded art venues-- specifically art museums.

Brian Sherwin
Richard-- the art world should be liberal in the sense that it is open to ideas and possibilities--but obviously it is not. As Johnson hints at-- it is almost as if the art world has this twisted form of conservatism going on while being politically liberal. It is closed to specific ideas.

First, thanks for your clarification on the numbers. However, I see the NEA listed as a contributor on the disclosure pages of fine art programs all the time; for whatever that is worth.
Second, we are not discussing the overall budget, which in my opinion needs to be cut across the board. As a Libertarian, I find all government waste and unconstitutional regulation offensive. My point is that all non-essential programs should be privately funded regardless of their purpose, agenda or other descriptor.
I think the main problem you are having here is your tone. You have, as many people who dislike my work and the questions raised here, automatically become defensive. That may be appropriate to the escalated discussion tat you are having with Brian; but I have been neither inflammatory nor accusatory. I simply answered your questions based on my personal experiences. You cannot ask what I think, then take offense at the answer. Also, your circuitous dealing with my assertion that there is prejudice in the art community is unwarranted. I already pointed out that your points regarding the right of the gallery to refuse work were valid. That does not, however disprove the double standard. If you have not personally experienced such a thing, for whatever reason, good for you - but don't try to speak to my experience or belittle it because you think it doesn't exist. By doing so, you simply negate your argument.
I think the problem here is that this issue is to personal fr all involved and it is difficult to step away from it and see the other side or event some of the realities that are skewed by perspective. Ironically, this very attitude is what inspired me to do the work I do. I got tired of the attitude from my peers that I have no right to express my opinion artistically.
And, in closing, don't lecture me about the free market while defending public funding of the arts or anything else for that matter. I understand economics and market driven merchandising very well. It is the reason I am not begging for a handout. I don't need the galleries, I was merely speaking of personal experience in regard to the double standard in the arts that you insist does not exist.

richard kooyman
How you can take the transcript of the interview that was posted on Ed's website and turn it around to say they are championing the need for a more balanced conservative type of art and that Ken Johnson somehow is in your camp that believes that conservative religious artists are being disenfranchised by the current art world is beyond any concept of logic. That is why I say you are paranoid.

I think the point he is making is that the established art world is rather stuck in a rut and that the wonders of the advant guarde are gone. I would agree with that. But for you to take those words as some type of manifesto for a call to conservatism is laughable.

Here is where I think you are getting stuck, and where many conservative republicans are stuck. You think the word liberal is a bad word. You see it as a type of catch all for moral and fiscal irresponsibility. I'm using it as the dictionary calls for..'open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values " and "concerned mainly with broadening a person's general knowledge and experience". Now if that is bad to you and you would like to balance that with the opposite it seems to me you are demanding an art world that is more traditional, more closed to new ways of looking at things. Good luck wishing for that. It's not the nature of art.

We live,I believe, in a time of unparalleled openness. I'm surprised you don't see that. I can go here in Chicago and in one day go to a high rent gallery selling large abstract oil paintings for 1/2 million dollars. I can go to another gallery selling abstracts for $3000. I can go see representational photography, historical drawings, hard edge paintings and photorealism. I can go to apartment galleries where I can buy a really great new artists for $500 or an alternative space where the art isn't even for sale. It's a plethora of styles, shapes, sizes conservative and radically crazy shit. And that's just Chicago.
Where you got this idea that it is this "extremely liberal" ( as in nasty bad) art world where all the powers that be meet every month to keep out some group of artists is beyond me.
I keep asking you for examples so I can have some basic idea of what you are talking about. It would really help. Otherwise it seems you are just making this crap up because you personally feel persecuted somehow.

And please, please, get your facts straight about what I am and what I am not saying about ArtPrize. I never said ArtPrize is ultra conservative. I said that The Dick and Betsy Devos Foundation, the money behind artPrize, are ultra conservative evangelicals. Thats a fact. Google it.

richard kooyman

I have not belittled you. I have not attacked you. I simply asked you questions.
You claim that there is a double standard in place in the art world. I don't know what you mean by that statement?
Are you saying certain types of work get exhibited and other types do not? I'm asking you to provide some examples of what you are referring to?

I see this over and over again happening in the political world where conservative people like yourself and Brian come into a public forum and make a claim. I'm asking for clarification and examples of those claims. Usually the person making the claim gets insulted and starts mocking and never backs up their claim with any meaningful information and then turns around and makes another claim that liberals are trying to shut them down. Please don't do that. I've thanked you for your comments. I've encouraged your clarification. I'm just asking you to give us more information and examples to back up your claim that the current art world has a "double standard" when it comes to your work.
You can't have it both ways. You can't say that you want complete individual responsibility, no federal support of the arts, and complete personal choice and then on the other claim that the art world, which is nothing more than a group of individuals, galleries owners, individual curators and art writers, isn't entitled to that very same freedom of choice.
A gallery owner may not want to show your work for a whole host of reasons. And yes they may not want to show it because they don't agree with the political nature of the work and they feel their cliental also would not be interested in that type of work. That in no way means that there is a "double standard", what ever that even means.

Richard, please re-read my comments as I think you have misunderstood some of my points in regard to yourself versus the art community. I have not taken anything you have said to be belittling my opinion.
We can go around all day in a circuitous manner and never change each other's mind. That is not the point of this discussion. And, clearly, nothing I say of my personal experiences or those of my conservative friends in the arts will ever change your mind or qualify as a defense of our opinions. That is fine.
So, you may have the last word without fear of rebuttal, and I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors. I ask only that you answer this question honestly: Would you extend me the same level of understanding that you insist I lack if I were to open a gallery where I only represented work I knew to be created by conservative artists? If so, I apologize for any misunderstanding of your intentions. If not, there is nothing else to be said.

richard kooyman

Yes, I would.

richard kooyman
Let me make a huge clarification to anyone who is still reading this which I suspect has always been just Brian and I.

I fully support Frances going off and starting her own art gallery or art fair for patriotic conservatives or whatever she would call what she does.

Now Brian you are probably chomping at the bit to jump up and down and belittle me by asking what is the difference between that and supporting ArtPRize.

I think I have more than explained that in my Facebook Note and on this blog, (Does anyone even read this blog?) but here is the difference in a nut shell.

Frances opening her own Patriot Gallery or People who Paint Flags Art FAir are just doing their own thing. ArtPrize on the other hand is a referendum against my thing. ArtPrize is design to provide a changed way in which people look at art. And I believe, and I think I have made a pretty good case in my Note, why that is a bad thing for art.
ArtPrize is designed to socially replace knowledge about art with public opinion. I'm not saying a public vote is inherently bad, but the ArtPrize system acknowledges the fact that there is a difference between a public vote and a professional vote and AP wants to champion a public opinion over a professional one.
I'm not saying this should be illegal, or stop, of banned, but I am saying it has implications and have attempted to point out what those implications are.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- I've read comments that you have posted elswhere... and you have called ArtPrize itself "ultra conservative". You also said, "ArtPrize is really a conservative referendum against the current art world." among other things.

Many have labeled you as a "troll" because you have a habit of not owning up to what you have said and for contradicting your arguments.

I never said that Ken Johnson was making a call for conservatism in art. My point is that he acknowledges that political liberalism is favored within the contemporary mainstream art world and that artwork containing conservative themes have little chance of being shown.

He knows that political and social bias exists-- which is something you had been denying up until now. Suddenly you are saying that you know there is bias and that you are content with it. You suggested that I was paranoid for mentioning that bias exists-- Johnson and others mention bias and you say that they are not paranoid. Which is it?

Ken Johnson: "Art can appear in almost any form, but the orders of the art world are pretty tightly policed ideologically. You see very little... there's no tea baggers art at any of these fairs. There's a lot of kinds of expressions or sensibilities that aren't allowed in these. You could say that it's a "liberal festival.""

Lock in on "tightly policed ideologically"

Lock in on "There's a lot of kinds of expressions or sensibilities that aren't allowed"

Lock in on "You could say that it's a "liberal festival."

Now if I had said the same thing you would have said it was further example as to why I'm paranoid. You would have said a "liberal festival" does not exist. Now you agree that bias does exist and that you are content with it being a "liberal festival". You flip-flop.

I'm currently working on an interview that you may find interesting. I think it will clear a lot of things up. When I show you what others have said and then you try to say that is not what they meant-- even though it is clear word for word-- there is really no use in further debate.

richard kooyman
I think there is no point in further debate because you are not a very good journalist. You cherry pick peoples words to only fit your ideology and you fail to ever answer a honest question posed to you. I would doubt the accuracy of any article you write that contains particle quotes that you have cherry picked because I think you have a difficult time following a logical line of thought of what the people are saying.

In regards to Ken Johnson you take one line out of a group interview and claim it supports your position, which the sentence neither does nor does the interview.

In regards to what I have been trying to explain I have repeatedly asked you over and over to be clear on what I did say and what I did not say and you fail to do even that during a live debate on this blog.

I've never said a conservative bias exists in the art world. Now you are saying I said it does. And you say Johnson and the others agree with you. They don't seem to be agreeing with.

The art world may be "tightly policed ideologically". Thank god it is. Thank god it insists on focusing on new possibilities and breaking down barriers of thought and ideas. Thank god it wants fresh beauty and combinations never thought of before.
Thank god it doesn't find paintings of flags waving over troops marching into battle interesting. Thank god it finds paintings of people in deep Christian introspection formulaic and creepy. ( If these examples are not what you are referring to you only have yourself to blame because I've asked you a million times now to provide examples of "conservative art")

The art world needs to be focused on being liberal. That has nothing to do with being biased.
You refuse, from the very core of your being to consider the word "liberal" as anything other than bad. I've repeatedly tried to explain to you that being liberal in regards to art is good, needed, and important. You ignore any of those points and just keep repeating the mantra that being liberal is bad, just like a good little Christian soldier.

Someone once said that the mark of a good journalist asking questions that the interviewer doesn't know the answers to. You didn't do that with your interview of Devos and you seem incapable of doing that in your writing because you are doing it to support your soapbox.

Brian Sherwin
Richard -- I can't debate with someone who flip-flops on their arguments. Sorry. Furthermore, I know it burns you that someone like me can earn a living writing about art. You failed to answer at least a dozen questions that show that you are a walking contradiction -- and now you hold to distractions -- which is why I deny you the pleasure. Troll away my friend, troll away.

Anyone can Google 'Richard Kooyman ultra conservative' to see the tone you have had across dozens of blogs-- and the statements you have made. ArtPrize has done a lot for you exposure-wise. ;p

The arguments you have made against ArtPrize could be said of Saatchi Online and other opportunities that have some form of "ultra conservative" connection-- but you don't want to address that. You contradict yourself.

Cherry picking? Really. Anyone can read for themself-- Winkleman includes a link to the recording as well.

As for Ken -- tell you what, I'll ask for him to clarify next time I contact him.

You said, "I've never said a conservative bias exists in the art world. Now you are saying I said it does. And you say Johnson and the others agree with you. They don't seem to be agreeing with."

Richard, Richard, Richard... liberal bias. LIBERAL BIAS. Liberal bias NOT conservative bias. See, you change stuff around so much that you change the very issue that we have been discussing.

Ken Johnson: "Art can appear in almost any form, but the orders of the art world are pretty tightly policed ideologically. You see very little... there's no tea baggers art at any of these fairs. There's a lot of kinds of expressions or sensibilities that aren't allowed in these. You could say that it's a "liberal festival.""

Lock in on "tightly policed ideologically"

Lock in on "There's a lot of kinds of expressions or sensibilities that aren't allowed"

Lock in on "You could say that it's a "liberal festival."

Explain how I am taking his words out of context. He makes it clear -- especially in his response to Winkleman that Winkleman offered.

"But, most people would agree that the avant-garde is dead (and, along with it, its relentlessly progressive march), and so, even though it may take some time, I do expect to see highly conservative values being expressed in competent art work more and more. I told Ken this recently, and he said it wouldn't matter...because people like me wouldn't show it in galleries."

Ken made it clear to Winkleman that he did not think Winkleman would exhibit conservative themed art no matter how 'good' the art is from a technical standpoint. Now I'm sure you will suggest that he was not saying that even though it is VERY clear.

You keep implying that the art world is open when in fact it is not. Johnson and the other critics made that clear in their debate.

Now I offered you the chance to have an article published on FAV about your concerns of how opportunities like ArtPrize can "control" how the public views art. Obviously you are ok with "control" depending on who has the hand at the wheel. Which is not what you were implying at first. That is just one reason your criticism of ArtPrize does not hold water. You contradict yourself.

I'll go further with my offer... if you don't think conservative themed art exists or that conservative-minded artists exist WRITE ABOUT... write about how if it does exist you think it "sucks" or other statements you have made here and elsewhere.

If you don't think that artists have experienced prejudice because of political views or religious choices WRITE ABOUT. If you think it is just mass paranoia and that liberal bias does not exist within the professional art world... WRITE ABOUT.

I never said that the word liberal is bad. I don't think political liberalism is bad either. I do have some politically liberal views just as I have some politically conservative views. But I do think it is bad when one political view dominates an important part of our culture/society.

I recall that up until one point in this lengthy debate you knocked every mention of the word conservative. You contradict yourself again.

As for your snarky remarks about my choice in religion... Richard, all that does is show that you are a bigot. You hate me because of my choice. That is clear to anyone who looks back on some of the jabs you have taken about the fact that I'm a Christian and about Christianity in general.

You implied earlier in this debate that if everyone were aetheists we would be "better human beings". You are not setting a good example for that-- you are full of hate. Have I tried to convert you? No. Have I judged you for not believing in my God? No. I have shown you tolerance-- and you have proved to be one of the most intolerant people I know of. I'm far more liberal than you.

You know-- it just hit me. You are saying now that you think I think the word liberal is bad. I suggested very early on in this lengthy debate that I'm far more liberal than you. So again, your words don't hold water.

Your orginal arguments in this debate compared to what you are saying now shows just how bad you are at supporting a stance. Furthermore, if you can't answer my questions why should I consider yours? I point out where your opinion is flawed-- or where you are simply wrong-- and you can't accept it. You switch modes and change your opinions to fit the direction of the debate even when it involves taking away from your arguments.

If you want to take me up on the article challenge I'm game. If not... troll somewhere else -- I've been overly tolerant of you-- I can't debate with someone who flip-flops as much as you have.

richard kooyman
Here's the thing, and this will be my last post. This hasn't been a debate. It's been a pissing match.
A times interesting and at times a totally boring piece of crap. For a real debate to happen you need to learn to respond to the questions and issue brought up.

I've tried diligently to understand what you mean when you say "conservative themed art'. I've never said it doesn't exist. I 've asked over and over what you think it is because I have no idea what you mean by those words. You refused to tell me. I tried. I really did.

Alan Carriero
ArtPrize 2014
The Worst Insult to Artists Yet
Grand Rapids Michigan, October 12, 2014. Rick Devos and his annual world-class insult to artists has once again proven that fair play in Grand Rapids Michigan is passé. -Art”ĚPrize is a wonderful idea in theory -- but in practice? ”" it's a world class embarrassment. If they know the truth about -Art”ĚPrize, I hate to imagine what those at the Met, the Louvre, and the Uffizi must think of us.
Did thousands of voters just happen to view the grand prize winner's entry at the Grand Rapids Art Museum in the heart of downtown, while only a handful saw the works of the poor souls who displayed their hearts and souls in coffee houses and bakeries on the outskirts of town? Year after year, the major artistic institutions in Grand Rapids Michigan -- the Grand Rapids Art Museum, The Kendall College of Art and Design, the Grand Rapids Symphony, and the St. Cecilia Music Center, all turn a blind eye to the disgracefully unfair event -- not to mention the thousands of people who participate in the charade of a so-called fair vote that's used to select the winners of the so-called art competition. Competition, yes, but art competition, no. It's a -Who can be lucky enough to get to display their work within 3 blocks of the B.O.B.?”Ě competition. (For those who may not know Grand Rapids, the -B.O.B.”Ě is a building in the center of the city.) To add insult to injury, a juried prize was added a couple years ago to the annual event to make the bogus contest appear to be legitimate. In the end, a $300,000 check was given to the grand prize winner. Fair?
To many of us, art is as precious and sacred as our religious beliefs. DeVos, the -mastermind”Ě behind -Art”ĚPrize is recorded as having said, -I don't care who wins, I just want to see a bunch of crazy crap all over town.”Ě With that kind of sentiment, what can one expect from the monumentally disrespectful event? We artists are effectively being told, -What? You don't like the fact that it's unfair? Your feelings are hurt? Who cares?”Ě DeVos has once again violated the sanctity of art and thrown a bucket of dung in the face of Mona Lisa while Grand Rapids stood by and watched, had its fun, and went home -- until next year when the atrocity will repeat itself.
The pathetic thing about -Art”ĚPrize is that a legitimate, respectful event could easily be made out of this sham. Put all the entries in a single place in which all voters would have to pass by every work before they could cast a vote. However, unless enough people recognize the sin that's being committed and say something about it, the disgrace will go on. In the meantime, if -Art”ĚPrize is to continue in its present form, please, Mr. DeVos, let's call a dirty spade a dirty spade. Leave our precious word -art”Ě out of your selfish little game and change the name to "The Center of Downtown Prize" or, if you must include the word, call it -ArtMarketingPrize.”Ě
-Alan Carriero,
Grand Rapids, Michigan


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