Sleeping Bear Dunes quilt wins ArtPrize 2013

In the face of a federal government shutdown, in which her work was shuttled outside, Ann Loveless’ quilt “Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore” is the public vote winner of ArtPrize. For the jury-chosen prize, Carlos Bunga — in a victory that even surprised the artist — won with his piece “Ecosystem.”

“I can’t believe I’m first, but I’ll take it,” Loveless told 24 Hour News 8. “Sleeping Bear Dunes is a favorite spot; many people go there in the summer. It’s Michigan,” she summed up with a smile.

Loveless’ piece — a panorama of the Sleeping Bear Dunes at sunset — took more than 400 hours to make and is made of 18,000 yards of thread. This year was her third year in ArtPrize. With a total of 446,850 votes cast for ArtPrize artists, she came out ahead.

Loveless said that the government shutdown was nerve-wracking for her because she worried that the piece, which was originally housed in the Gerald R. Ford Museum, could have been moved to a new location where people couldn’t find it.

“We were maybe going to have to move to a different location,” Loveless said to 24 Hour News 8. “I knew no one would be able to find us. We were in the final round of voting. It would have been horrible.”

However, she managed to set up her piece just outside the museum and ushered in enough votes to win the prize.

With $200,000 to spend, what is she going to do buy? She said that first on the list is a new quilt machine, and then she plans to delve into local quilt shops for new fabrics.

Beside materials for new creations, she said she has a tentative ski-trip in the making and plans to put away rest of the money for retirement.

Like Loveless, Bunga, the winner of the $100,000 jury prize, was astounded that he won ArtPrize.

“It’s a very big surprise,” he told MLive. “I didn’t think I would win. I only wanted to make something for that specific space.”

Bunga’s piece “Ecosystem,” a 360-degree diorama of still life nature paintings, was housed in the SiTE:LAB — a former Grand Rapids Art Museum venue — where the piece interacted specifically with the environment there.

“It’s about how the new space comes to the old space,” Bunga told MLive. “We can have new experience and new feelings.”

This style is typical of the Portuguese artist, who creates pieces uniquely crafted to each space he exhibits them in. “Ecosystem” — made of tape, cardboard and paint — melds with the architecture, separating and joining certain areas.

Unlike Bunga, all three top ten popular vote winners had ties to Michigan, and all had their pieces on display at the Gerald R. Ford Museum.

The second and third place popular vote winners were “Polar Expressed” — three murals of polar bears — and “UPlifting” — a bronze sculpture depicting a man lifting a woman up.