Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 26, 2014

ArtPrize winners host joint exhibit

TRAVERSE CITY — Competition sometimes brings out the worst in people, especially when money is involved.

Artists Ann Loveless and Anni Crouter managed to stay above the fray and forge a friendship in one of the most unlikely places. The women, both accomplished artists, met for the first time when their art displays for the 2013 ArtPrize competition both landed in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.

"It's pretty competitive and the artists don't really communicate all that much," said Crouter, a Flint-area painter who entered the contest for the first time last year. "I think a lot of it has to do with the money."

Artists often resort to guerrilla tactics to gather patrons' votes toward the $200,000 top prize, Crouter said.

Crouter and Loveless refrained from shenanigans and quickly became friends during the 19-day competition. Their displays — Loveless' a massive quilt titled "Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore" and Crouter's painting "Polar Expressed" — sat across from each other in the museum.

The women talked art, realized they had previously entered the same art fair, and discovered Crouter owns a home in Traverse City, not far from Loveless' Buelah home. Then, on the 17th day of the event, when organizers announced winners from more than 1,500 entries, the women were shocked.

"It came down to the last two slots and Ann and Anni were sitting together," said Steve Loveless, Ann's husband.

It was the first time in the five years of the contest when two Michigan artists scored the top two places and the huge prizes that come with them.

The product of that fresh friendship is a cooperative art exhibition at Loveless' Buelah frame shop, State of the Art Framing and Gallery. Starting Saturday and running through July 19, viewers will have the opportunity to see several works from both artists.

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