How do you make an art show unique from the thousands of others that are held throughout the country? That had to be one of the first questions the organizers for ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan had to have asked themselves.
Believe me, they succeeded, I bet even beyond their wildest dreams.
ArtPrize is only three years of old and they have 1582 artists participating, from all over the world!
The organizers decided that the competition not only had to be a showcase for artists, but also for their city.
When I normally think of an art show, the first thought that comes to my mind is blocks of a downtown cordoned off with the artists displaying their work in booths.
ArtPrize went a different way entirely.
The art is displayed in different venues throughout the city, from large to small. The organizers were able to get banks, restaurants, civic centers, hotels, churches, boutiques among others on board with their vision. Each location displayed the art either outside, in their windows or inside the building itself.
It forced people to be on the city streets if they wanted to vote, rather than just looking at the art work on line. 33,858 people did so!
The winner of the public vote received $250,000. The second system was done by a set of judges, who viewed every piece of art and then made their final decision.
When we arrived Thursday evening, we decided we would just go into town and see what it was all about. We parked at the first ramp we came to and just started walking.
If we needed to go into a place of business, there were orange arrows directing us to the competition. Employees were always cordial and excited that we had taken the time to stop into their business.
On Friday morning we pulled out the map and decided that we really wanted to see the Top 10.
It is a wealth of information and well worth the price. The map inside it is invaluable. It shows exactly where every piece is displayed. Go the the HUB. It has the help you need, plus more. It continually updates the status of the Top 25.
I have to say we saw some amazing pieces as well as pieces that we looked at each other and said, “I just don’t get it.”
In reflection while, we basically agree with most of the winners, the ones we discuss the most are the “I just don’t get it” ones. And isn’t that what every artist wants? Their work discussed.
Most of Grand Rapids is very proud of this event. In fact, in our travels throughout the state during the last few months, anyone from Grand Rapids that we mention the ArtPrize to, immediately gets excited and begins to talk about it.
Who can blame them? 400,000 visitors in 19 days is any city’s dream.