LAKE CITY, S.C — ArtFields has suspended the popular vote prize — and the $25,000 check that goes with it — over questions of its originality.
John Cooper’s oil on canvas piece titled “Warsaw Ghetto 1943” won the prize, which represents the most votes cast by the public, has been suspended.
Award of the Popular Choice prize, which represents the most votes cast by the public, has been suspended.
Of those who attended the exhibitions, 5,965 people registered to vote in and 2,443 votes were cast.
“According to Sue-Ann Gerald Shannon, legal counsel for Lake City Partnership Council, the competition’s sponsor, the initial awardee has been sent notification that his entry, ‘Warsaw Ghetto 1943,’ is ineligible for the award because it did not meet the guidelines and rules of the competition,” according to a release issued Wednesday by ArtFields.
“The eligibility rules, which were clearly set out from the start, required that the submitted entry be wholly owned by the artist and does not infringe upon the rights of others. After conducting our due diligence investigation, and consulting with art experts, we determined that the ‘Warsaw Ghetto 1943’ entry was merely a re-colorized reproduction of the iconic photograph depicting German soldiers leading away captured Jews for deportation,” Shannon said through the release.
“Although some displeasure has been expressed for our not disqualifying this piece earlier, in fairness to all and to maintain the competition’s integrity, we first wanted to be absolutely sure we were on solid footing that the piece failed to comply with the rules. After careful review, we have disqualified the Warsaw Ghetto piece and we will soon announce the winner of the Popular Choice award,” Shannon said through the release.
“We appreciate the hard work of talented, creative, original artists and while we do not want this competition to be a heavily-vetted, sanitized showcase, we must ensure that everyone follows the same rules,” Shannon said through the release. “In getting ready for next year’s event, we are already thinking about ways to improve greatly the competition.”
Shannon said the event accomplished what the organizers set out to do — bring artistic and cultural opportunities to Lake City and make a positive economic impact in doing so.
“We were delighted to afford an opportunity for increased exposure for some of our Southeastern artists. Artists, museum directors, and art gallery curators from all over have expressed a desire to bring future exhibits to be showcased in Lake City,” Shannon said through the release.