A Prize Every Time

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PRIZE EVERY TIME!

 

Where Art is Money and Money is Art at World’s First Scratch Ticket to Paradise 

 

Northampton, MA. -- A Prize Every Time by Sally Curcio, Amy Johnquest, and Anne LaPrade Seuthe, is a collaborative project that addresses chance, luck, wealth, well-being and our emotional relationship with money. In this exhibition lines are blurred as high art meets low art...raw cynicism meets blind optimism...and high rollers meet low ballers. 

 

A Prize Every Time references carnival and lottery games of chance. From the boutique city of Northampton (aka Paradise City) where the exhibition takes place - to the defunct factory towns on its outskirts, community members have invested big time (financially/emotionally) in a collaborative piece called “Scratch Ticket to Paradise.” The installation is comprised of unscratched lottery tickets featured in the gallery window facing Main Street, USA. “Shares” (sold by the artists to the community) entitle shareholders” to a portion of the winnings - if any. “Scratch Ticket to Paradise” is the artists’ microcosmic version of a Wall Street stock option. In the realm of pork bellies, bears and bulls, investors in the NYSE put their hopes in rising stock shares. In contrast, “Scratch Ticket to Paradise” investors pin their hopes to the luck -o- the scratch. In the last days of the exhibition, the artists will scratch the tickets and the winners and loserswill be reinstalled in the window. This second phase of the installation will be titled “Transparency”. 

 

When you move beyond the scratch ticket window into the gallery the artwork gains currency through a mixture of subtle humor and clever use of materials. The dazzle of the lottery window is balanced with works that remind us of the gloomier side of the economy. For example, the artists joined forces to display a collection of piggy banks that stand sentry on a shelf as you enter the gallery - at the ready to accept visitors’ “disposable income” into their porcine slots. The artists will donate the proceeds to a variety of local charities that include a food bank and a gambling addiction help-line. 

 

On the surface this exhibition suggests a carnival, and on a deeper level it addresses the anxiety that is a consequence of the state of our local, national and global economies. Mark Twain said, “ LACK of money is the root of all evil.” And that may well be true. In the neighboring city of Springfield, MGM Resorts International, is pursuing a state gaming license for a proposed $800 million resort casino complex. A recent vote showed the city almost equally divided on this issue. Those in favor are banking on employment opportunities and new revenue sources; those against fear an influx of dead-end jobs, increased crime, and corruption. 

 

In their exhibition statement the artists write: “We trust advisors to invest wisely for us in the stock market, yet we know the stock market is a gamble. Like any game, there are rules to play by - no insider trading and don’t be a Bernard Madoff. Gambling and games infiltrate our culture at many levels. Attitudes about wealth vary wildly, but are often based on how that wealth is acquired. The stock market, until very recently, had the air of legitimacy, while the lottery is widely viewed as seedy and the earnings from it are consequently viewed through a darker lens. State lottery funds, despite their questionable origins, do benefit local communities. Northampton alone received close to four million dollars that helped to fund the local arts council - bringing us full circle. ***

 

Another collaborative piece in the exhibition involves a wall of 36 painted panels – that reveal a message. There are also paintings that reference stock market and lottery imagery and kinetic wheels of fortune. Some works such as Johnquest’s Birth Wheel are interactive. Viewers will spin a wheel to see who they’ll get to be via nationality - income - religion - politics - lifestyle. We see how random our chances are. Spin the wheel and you may be born a Somali living in a simple shack with no plumbing or electricity in the middle of a genocidal war, spin again and you’re a white child born to a Texas oil family, spin again and you’re born to a Chinese factory worker making I-pad screens, spin again and your parents are middle class hipsters in Northampton and so on....

 

A Prize Every Time’s carnival atmosphere hovers between a compelling tension and an exuberant fun-fest similar to what one might experience at a county fair where the innocence in the cotton candy, rides and games live side by side with the dark underbelly

of transience and con-artistry. A Prize Every Time! speaks to the reality of the American Dream: high-hopes dashed by harsh reality ... but don’t despair in A Prize Every Time! everyone’s a winner!

 

***HYPERLINK "http://www.masslottery.com/about/communities"

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Northampton Arts Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.