A surfing enthusiast from New York has won the inaugural ArtPrize, earning $250,000 (£156,400) for his 19ft oil painting depicting the swelling sea.
"To be able to use... my energy to pursue my work and not to struggle financially is a liberty that's really exquisite," said Ran Ortner, 50.
More than 1,200 entries were placed in public areas around the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan over two weeks.
The winner was chosen by the public, who voted on the website or by text.
Tracy Van Duinen, from Chicago, won second prize for his mural, picking up $100,000 (£62,500).
"I feel great," said Van Duinen, who is donating his tile mural to the Grand Rapids Children's Museum. "This kept on exceeding our expectations every step of the way."
Third prize - and $50,000 (£31,000) - went to Eric Daigh, from Traverse City in Michigan, for his series of portraits created with pins.
Ortner's Open Water No 24 is so realistic that viewers often get within inches of it to check for brushstrokes. It will remain on display, alongside the other entries, until Sunday.