Grand Rapids ArtPrize 2011: Radically Different

Photo Credit - Ashley FoxGrand Rapids is changing the conversation about art. The Grand Rapids ArtPrize is an international art competition which opens tomorrow, September 21st, and continues through October 9th. This event was created to reset and broaden the conversation about public art, and offers a rare opportunity for people to view art from around the world in a single location.

This year, ArtPrize will host artists from 39 countries and 43 states who will display their work in 164 venues within three-square miles of downtown Grand Rapids. Art from around the world pops up on street corners, in restaurants, in parks, and even inside office buildings, and then people come to see it.
It awards the world’s largest monetary prizes for art, totaling $474,000, and it is unique in that its prizes are awarded by public vote—your vote. This is what makes the event most interesting.

Anyone who shows up to Grand Rapids can vote for the idea they believe should be the winner. It’s completely unorthodox by the standards of the art world, but that’s okay.

ArtPrize is doing something radically different, and that is a defining factor of the world’s greatest artists—those who chose to diverge from the established path and forge their own.

ArtPrize is considered a social art experiment. Its greatest innovations come from the artists who can transform their ideas into an interactive experience. As a result, ArtPrize inspires discussions, relationships, and community to everyone who comes to town. It offers a platform for people to unite under one common experience, but also allows for every person to discover his or her own story.

We invite you to join us in Grand Rapids to see how an entire city is changing the conversation about art.

Have you attended the Grand Rapids ArtPrize before? Do you have any suggestions for making it a fun experience for a first-time visitor?

  • Melanie Scholten

    The best thing about ArtPrize is you never know what is around the next corner! I encourage people to go beyond the “big” or “popular” venues and explore the smaller ones as well. One of the best pieces last year by a very renown yet little-seen artist was tucked away in a little room in the Grand Valley Arts building. I turned the corner into that room and was instantly mesmerized by the piece. I could have stood there all day. So take enough time to explore and wander aimlessly, and let yourself be surprised!

  • Samantha

    Try to make several trips. Obviously there is more than you will ever be able to see. But if possible try at least a couple days during the first voting round. Then be sure to plan another day after the top 10 is announced and just go see the top 10.

    Also as Melanie said, don’t JUST go downtown. There are several different neighborhoods that will all have art. Get a map and explore! If you are not from the area be sure to scout out some restaurants in the area too or bring a picnic! As much as I’d like people to spend money in GR, I know sometimes that just isn’t possible. Bring a picnic, find a park and relax and take in all the art!

  • Samantha

    Oh I almost forgot! If you are going to go to Art Prize for multiple days, it would probably be worth getting a Metro pass. You pay $5 and you can ride the any Rapid bus (GR public transit) or the Art Bus for free for the duration of Art Prize. You can also get on a Rapid at Meijer and they will take you downtown so you don’t have to worry about having a car.

    Info on the metro pass– http://www.artprize.org/visitor-info/metropass

  • Nancy Daughtry

    Wish I could be there. I understand it’s wonderful! I’ll have to stay home and do my paintings for over my couch. Have some really great ideas!

  • Kathie Scott

    My friend and I spent one day in GR the first year, two days last year and plan to spend three days viewing lots of art this year.
    ArtPrize is an amazing event that provides so much fun and enjoyment. Plan to spend more time because there is so much to see!

  • http://hollyhocksllc.com Teresa

    Sounds fantastic! Too bad I live so far away! I think this town could use an event like this, just not as big.

  • Lezlie Ellison

    I wish they’d do a book each year, with just pictures of each entry. That way those of us who can’t get around can still see what all the fun is about.