Painter Abigail Bradley has competed in every ArtPrize since the competition's inception in 2009.
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The fourth edition of ArtPrize is now underway in Grand Rapids and more than 1,500 artists are competing for $560,000 in prize money.
Many of the artists have entered before, but not many have displayed work in every ArtPrize since the inaugural event in 2009.
"I see it as a way to connect with an audience in a way I was not connected before," says painter Abigail Bradley, who has a perfect ArtPrize attendance record.
Bradley previously entered a large sculpture, a painting, and a charcoal drawing. This year, she learned to sew to create a piece with four panels.
"I had these scraps of canvas saved over the years, so I asked a friend who sews to teach me how," explains Bradley. "The four panel piece is called 'Once Upon A Time'. It represents the four stages of a relationship."
Since it started four years ago, Bradley thinks ArtPrize has matured. She says having experts select winners of $200,000 of the $560,000 in cash prizes is a major improvement. In the past, awards were primarily based on votes by the public.
"Having public input and public engagement has been very good in creating a wider appreciation of the arts," she says. "At the same time, I feel incorporating juried prizes gives ArtPrize greater credibility because these are professionals and know what makes really great art."
Bradley says there was never any doubt in her mind about participating in ArtPrize 2012.
"I get excited about ArtPrize every year because of the excitement in our community," she says. "Everyone I know gets excited about it. I think that's great. It's a connector in our community and I really enjoy being a part of that."
Bradley's ArtPrize piece is on display in the MoDiv on Monroe Center in downtown Grand Rapids.