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Artist Sara Urband-Murphy greets visitors to a private preview of her art project at her studio.

Local Artist Sara Urband Murphy to Compete in State ArtPrize Competition

"Reality Beach" Taking Shape in Rustic Studio on Woodside Avenue

September 19, 2010       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Glass mockup shows how "Reality Beach" project will be displayed for the competition.
(MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)
It's the world's largest juried art competition.

And, with a little luck and hard work, a Bay City artist will be in the running for a prize -- perhaps one that brings cash along with it.

Sara Urband-Murphy is finishing her creation, entitled "Reality Beach," that has been accepted into the ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids.

She is one of more than 1,700 artists from 21 countries and 44 states heading to Grand Rapids to compete for the world's largest prize for art.

Sara introduced her project to the local community last weekend at "An Evening at Sara's Studio," a mixer at her rustic studio on Woodside Avenue.

The studio, a former church, is busy with visitors eager to explore the project and the artist's setting.
(MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)

The event also was staged to interest supporters in going to Grand Rapids to vote for her project. The only votes allowed are restricted to art patrons who have actually seen the entries.

Sara's ambitious project is four feet high by eight feet wide and involves seven animated ceramic figures -- six people and a dog, modeled after antique jumping jacks. The floor is sand-blasted glass. Four corner posts are palm trees with ceramic leaves.

ArtPrize 2010 begins Sept. 22 and runs through Oct. 10. Information about ArtPrize and scheduled events can be found at

Join ArtPrize artist Sara Urband Murphy for a free and interactive presentation about her entry "Reality Beach" regarding the challenging process of creating large scale works or art by combining fragile ceramic and glass.

Learn more about Sara's piece here:

ArtPrize is a radically open competition. Registered artists and venues match with one another at and the public votes for the winners using mobile devices and the Web. In ArtPrize 2009, more than 1,262 artists from all over the world participated in the unprecedented competition that awarded nearly $500,000 to the prize winners. More than 334,000 votes were cast during the 18-day event.

The event is like a festival with music, speakers and other entertainments.

ArtPrize organizers have announced the addition of two evenings of music to the 19-day art competition. The ArtPrize Concert Series, which is free to the public, will take the stage at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids. Performing are top acts Natasha Bedingfield, David Archuleta, indie-rock band Surfer Blood and other musical acts.

"ArtPrize continually looks for ways to enhance the ArtPrize experience," said Bill Holsinger-Robinson, ArtPrize executive director. "Whether viewing art, learning through the speakers series or celebrating through live musical performances, all these experiences promote collisions among the public, artists and city spaces."

The first night of music, the Center City Neighborhood Party, is presented by Stella Artois. Indie-rock band Surfer Blood from West Palm Beach, Florida will take the stage at 7 p.m., Saturday Sept. 25. Surfer Blood released its debut album early this year with favorable reviews from industry critics.

Rounding out the concert series, pop-singer Natasha Bedingfield headlines on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. Bedingfield whose hit singles include "Pocketful of Sunshine," and "Unwritten," will take the stage with special guests David Archuleta and Hot Chelle Rae. Archuleta was the runner-up of season seven's American Idol, and Hot Chelle Rae is a pop/rock band from Nashville, Tenn. This community concert is presented by Carol and David Van Andel Foundation in partnership with Citadel Broadcasting Corporation.

"Through the efforts of young entrepreneurs and philanthropists like Rick DeVos, along with the enlightened involvement of residents, community volunteers, and public officials, West Michigan is a progressive, livable region, full of pride and community spirit," said David Van Andel, whose family foundation, the David and Carol Van Andel Foundation, is co-sponsoring the concert series. "It is with great enthusiasm that Carol and I invite the entire community to enjoy the ArtPrize Community Concert."

Artist's brushes and implements fascinate Dolores Rogers and Sandra Urband, right, mother of the artist.
(MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)

Charlotte Ombry, 13, a student at T.L. Handy Middle School, marvels at the ceramic figures.
(MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)

Visitors walk through the studio where ceramic figures, left foreground, are laid out.
(MyBayCity Photo by Dave Rogers)

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