Rick DeVos, an heir to the Amway fortune, has launched a new, $250,000 art prize called...the ArtPrize. This time, it won't be the rarefied aesthetic sensibilities of art critics deciding whether that all-black canvas is the product of genius or laziness. It'll be the good people of Grand Rapids, Michigan.From the Detroit Free Press:"Potentially hundreds of artists will display works in a 3-square mile area in downtown Grand Rapids-from parks and bridges to bank lobbies, small businesses and traditional venues like museums....Rather than rely on a jury of art experts to pick the winners, the competition will be decided by members of the public, who will vote on cell phones, online, and other digital devices. Organizers say that the $250,000 first prize will be the world's most lucrative visual arts award in the world."Part of the idea of fine art (especially the modern stuff) is that it's so complex and refined that only experts can judge it-commoners like you and I just don't have the palate to tell good from bad. The ArtPrize completely undermines that idea.Certainly, for Andrew Keen and other critics who say the mob rule of new media is destroying culture, this must just represent another crumbling piliar of our civilization. But it will be fascinating to see how the public's tastes differ from those of the aesthetes, and it'll probably inspire more public interest in art.Via C-Monster. Photo of people contemplating a Rothko from Flickr user markhillary, licensed under Creative Commons.