DeVos Prize

Installation shots

Posted in in situ by digitalrituals on October 7, 2009

Chipping In [detail]TRIOIMG_1393IMG_1396IMG_1394IMG_1399IMG_1400


If Only

Posted in Uncategorized by digitalrituals on October 1, 2009

America’s Most Wanted, Komar and Melamid

Your Lifestyle, or Queer as a 6 Billion Dollar Bill

Posted in drafting by digitalrituals on September 24, 2009

A brief and informal statement of intent

Posted in responding by digitalrituals on September 24, 2009

The politicized nature of this project specifically and of ArtPrize generally have convinced me that a narrative explanation of my most recent work Seeding might be in order.


The general impetus behind ArtPrize seems inventive and generous.  It is clearly reaching a very broad portion of our community who might otherwise not feel as though they have a stake in the visual arts.  I am concerned, though, that the support mechanisms that are generally in place for artists participating in events of this scale are not in place for ArtPrize.  Assistance with mechanical and logistical concerns such as installation and lighting vary widely based on an artist’s venue.  Funding for materials, construction, shipping and installation are entirely the responsibility of the artists.  Given the depressed economic climate and the lack of grants to help fund the arts, it is upsetting to think that some artists are spending the equivalent of  six mortgage payments on projects that aren’t likely to see any return in prize money.  The promise of the big payoff that ArtPrize dangles in front of struggling artists is in some ways not too different than the promise of wealth offered by Amway – elusive to all but a few, and manipulative of many who don’t have the capital or connections to negotiate a better shot at financial stability.  My largest concern, however, is that what is innovative and beneficial about ArtPrize will whitewash the more troubling contributions of the DeVos family – this concern is the basis for the Seeding project.  In fifty years, the legacy of the DeVos family may be entirely different than what it is today, and ArtPrize may mark the beginning of that divergence, but this project responds to the contemporary situation.  Hopefully I’ll have the material to be making an entirely different set of coasters in the coming decades. 


Addendum: There are a lot of artists who, if they should win anything, have pledged to donate the prize money.  I join them in saying that any prize money I stumble over will go to the Triangle Foundation, and the Grand Rapids Red Project.

Warning: This Message Contains Blocked Content. Some content in this message has been reported as abusive by Facebook users.

Posted in responding by digitalrituals on September 16, 2009

Turns out that’s the message you get if you try to post a link to this blog on Facebook.
Unfortunately, I can’t manage to find a way to appeal the block.

“Rebooting the conversation” takes a hit.


UPDATE: This blog is no longer considered “abusive” by facebook.  How or why the switch happened, I can’t say.  CTRL + ALT + DEL, as it were.

cultural critic Jeff Smith weighs in on ArtPrize

Posted in researching by digitalrituals on August 29, 2009


led ticker draft: Taking Stock, or Brand New Ticker

Posted in drafting by digitalrituals on August 29, 2009













If you would like to contribute a quote to this project, please leave a comment on this page, or email samsoncamper(at)gmail(dot)com 
Between one and two sentences is ideal. Longer submissions may be edited for length. Attribution can be your name or initials.  I will update the ticker at least every other day as submissions come in.  I intend to include all submissions from any viewpoint, provided that the language is not abusive.

A sample of submissions to date:

“Radically open” is good for business. – JG Mikulay

Democracy requires more than free elections. – JG Mikulay

The american idol-ization of the artworld – Chele Isaac

coaster drafts: Focus on the Family

Posted in drafting by digitalrituals on August 28, 2009



NOTE: annotation on this coaster is still in progress.  I’ll be finishing is shortly.

Richard DeVos
AIDS Demo Graphics, Douglas Crimp and Adam Ralston, Bay Press (WA), 1990.

Grand Rapids Press 5.19.09
[…Richard DeVos:]
I have been hung in effigy by the gay community for a long time, from when I was on President Reagan’s first AIDS commission.








Elsa Prince-Broekhuizen
Grand Rapids Press 10.27.09
Holland resident Elsa Prince Broekhuizen has pumped $450,000 into a Nov. 4 California ballot issue to ban gay marriage. It is one of the largest private donations to that cause.
In 2004, Broekhuizen was the top West Michigan contributor to Michigan’s anti-gay marriage amendment, adding $75,000 to the cause.

Focus on the Family board member affilliation



Dick DeVos


Betsy DeVos
Soft Money Is Good: ‘Hard-Earned American Dollars That Big Brother Has Yet to Find a Way to Control’
by Betsy DeVos in Roll Call September 6, 1997



Erik Prince
Time Magazine 3.15.07
Erik Prince, 37, Blackwater’s ambitious founder and sole owner
Since June 2004, Blackwater has been paid more than $320 million out of a $1 billion, five-year State Department budget for the Worldwide Personal Protective Service, which protects U.S. officials and some foreign officials in conflict zones.
National Public Radio 9.28.07
Blackwater landed a $73 million contact to protect FEMA staff helping with the Katrina recovery operation.

Christian Science Monitor 10.13.07
The Blackwater security forces that opened fire on a public square in Baghdad last month, leaving 17 dead




Rick DeVos

Grand Rapids Press 4.23.09



ArtPrize funding

Grand Rapids Press 5.23.09


The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation has made a multi-year commitment to provide the prize money.


Soft Money Is Good: ‘Hard-Earned American Dollars That Big Brother Has Yet to Find a Way to Control’

Posted in researching by digitalrituals on August 28, 2009

By Betsy DeVos
Roll Call September 6, 1997

It seems that all of official Washington is now consumed by the drive toward campaign reform. The do-gooders are out en masse with a variety of proposals, ranging from the clearly unconstitutional, to the patently absurd, to the very dangerous.

In this era of cynicism and mistrust of all things political, it has become fashionable to decry the system and call for removing all money from politics, particularly this really bad stuff called “soft money.”

What is soft money? The public, being too preoccupied with the ebb and flow of the important things in their lives, doesn’t have any idea what it is. It sounds bad, shadowy, hard to pin down, untraceable, even sinister.

In reality, soft money given to political parties is nothing more than money that is not yet regulated by the federal government. And contrary to what you hear, it is all publicly reported for everyone to see. It is hard-earned American dollars that Big Brother has yet to find a way to control. That is all it is, nothing more.

Much of this money is used in gubernatorial races and state legislative campaigns, where the feds have yet to take over. Some is spent on television ads promoting the ideals of both the Republican and Democratic parties, and some is used in efforts to increase voter turnout.

I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican party. Occasionally a wayward reporter will try to make the charge that we are giving this money to get something in return, or that we must be purchasing influence in some way. (more…)

coaster drafts: Favors

Posted in drafting by digitalrituals on August 20, 2009




Grand Rapids Press 5.19.09

Q: How does that tie in with the gay marriage issue?

A: From that point on, that’s when they were hanging me in effigy because I wasn’t sympathetic to all of their requests for special treatment. Because at that time it was always somebody else’s fault. And I said, “You are responsible for your actions, too, you know. Conduct yourself properly,” which is a pretty solid Christian principle. You’ve got to take responsibility for your actions. It went from there to a series of requests for special treatment.

I would say, “I understand who you are. I accept who you are. Live your life. I will respect you. But don’t keep asking for favors.” Don’t ask for a concession on the marriage issue, which is not vital to them, in my opinion. They’ve made it a vital issue because they want to.

Q: Is there a solution? A compromise you would support?

A: Call it something else. Call it anything you want to. But marriage is a sacred document, OK? A sacred sacrament in the church and in the world. Don’t mess with it.

Go do something else. I deal with a lot of wonderful gay people. I hire a lot of them. I use a lot of them. I respect them. They’re terrific. I am good friends with them. But you live your life the way you want to live and I’ll live mine and I won’t stick my nose in yours. But don’t keep trying to change things. That’s all.



Grand Rapids Press 5.20.09

In 2000, controversy erupted at Grand Valley State University when then-president Arend Lubbers called for benefits for same-sex partners of faculty members. As The Press reported: “He then retreated, following objections from Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, a major donor to the college. President Mark Murray reaffirmed that decision in 2001.”



Grand Rapids Press 5.23.09

The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation has made a multi-year commitment to provide the prize money.