Winners of the 2009 Grand Rapids ArtPrize

ArtPrize 09-Open Water no.24 by deviant_anomaly
ART PRIZE 2009-0032
ART PRIZE 2009-0032 by RichardD72

AND THE WINNER IS… by rkramer62


The first-ever ArtPrize in Grand Rapids has ended with Open Water no. 24, a 6′ x 19′ oil painting by Ran Ortner being chosen as the winner by public vote from 1,262 artists who exhibited at 157 venues across the city. A former pro motorcycle racer, Ortner will receive a quarter of a million dollars for his finish. The Freep reports:

Ortner said he was stunned by his win. “Wow. Exhilarating, captivating, ridiculous. Can’t get my head around it.”

It means a lot to him that those choosing his work were not professional art critics but people who were moved by his work. “There’s been a heart connection here,” he said.

And it has been good for those who voted, Ortner said. “All of a sudden, those who know nothing about art have an opinion that matters,” he said. “It really has a life larger than anything anybody anticipated.”

ArtPrize 2009 Winners

  1. Ran Ortner – Open Water no. 24
  2. Tracy Van Duinen – Imagine That!
  3. Eric Daigh – Portraits
  4. David Lubbers – The Grand Dance
  5. Bill Secunda – Moose
  6. Nessie Project – Nessie on the Grand
  7. John Douglas Powers – Field of Reeds
  8. Sarah Grant – The Furniture City Sets the Table for the World of Art
  9. Jason Hackenwerth – Ecstasy of The Scarlet Empress
  10. Michael Westra – winddancer 2

You can get some more links to coverage at Who won ArtPrize? on the ArtPrize blog and stay tuned to for news about ArtPrize 2010!

Check out this video below for some scenes from the Winners Celebration – the close of this dance number is really impressive!

More videos can be found at ArtPrize 2009 Absolute Michigan.

Michigan History: Rediscovering Our Covered Bridges

The Fallasburg BridgeThe July/August 2009 issue of Michigan History tells the stories of Michigan’s three remaining covered bridges. Back in the days when couples rode in a horse and carriage, covered bridges were known as “kissing bridges.” The walls provided privacy and the horse was reined to a stop while the pair took advantage of their opportunity for romance. Today, those attracted to our covered bridges are more likely to be nostalgic than amorous.

Also in the July/August issue are stories about women who served in the Second Michigan Volunteer Infantry-one of whom was disguised as a man; an adventure of “flying boat” pilots who raced around the state in 1913; and the tragedy of two ships stranded in the worst storm ever recorded on Lake Michigan. The history of the town of Calumet, Herbert Henry Dow’s creation of the Dow Gardens and the story of European immigration to the Upper Peninsula round out the issue.

For more information or to order a subscription to Michigan History call (800) 366-3703 or visit Individual copies can be purchased at Barnes & Noble, B. Dalton and Borders bookstores throughout the state.

Michigan History is published by the Michigan Historical Center, part of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. Dedicated to enriching quality of life and strengthening the economy, the department also includes the Library of Michigan, the Mackinac Island State Park Commission and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

Cover Photo: The Fallasburg Bridge crosses the Flat River in Kent County. Built in 1871, it is one of Michigan’s oldest covered bridges.

Vol I, No. 1: Introduce Your Michigan Business or Organization!

This is a page where we asked folks to say hello. Lots of them did!

The current version of Introduce Your Michigan Business or Organization is right there.

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Michigan History: St. Joseph – Wedding Capital, U.S.A.

fountain in the woods by catzinahat

Las Vegas boasts that it is America’s “wedding capital.” Yet, in the early years of the twentieth century, Michigan, especially the Lake Michigan town of St. Joseph, was the “wedding capital of the Midwest.” Michigan marriage laws did not require residency, allowed people to marry at the age of 18 and did not require any witnesses other than the county clerk, his wife or an assistant and the presiding officials.

The result was that hundreds of amorous couples, especially from Chicago, boarded a steamer for the four-hour trip to St. Joseph. Most couples chose Sunday to get married. Traveling to St. Joseph for a quickie marriage became so popular that the Chicago Tribune reported more steamboats had to be added to this “rapid matrimonial transit.” At times, crowding at the Chicago docks became so bad that “it required a squad of policemen . . . to restrain the bridal couples from pushing each other into the Chicago River in a frenzied effort to get into the boat.”

Once in St. Joseph, the couples sought the county clerk, justices of the peace and the clergy–all of whom performed marriages any day of the week–”day or night.” Newspaper accounts reported wedding ceremonies being performed at 2:00 A.M. The ceremonies usually took little time; the record time for performing a marriage was thirty seconds.

Eventually, quickie marriages caused the Michigan secretary of state to lament about the “development of the famous ‘St. Joseph marriage industry.’” Opposition forces finally changed the state law. Couples would have to wait five days after taking out a license before they could be married. On August 27, 1925, Michigan’s reign as the Midwest’s marriage capital came to an end.

For the full story on Michigan’s “weekend weddings” see the January/February 2007 issue of Michigan History magazine. For more information, a free trial issue, or to learn about Michigan History for Kids magazine call (800) 366-3703 or visit

Update: Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry did a Valentine’s Day interview with St. Joseph librarian, Alicia Allen about the history and then reflects on love and marriage in Michigan in his essay.

More St. Joseph links and articles at Absolute Michigan keyword “St. Joseph”!