GRAND RAPIDS, MI — ArtPrize, the annual, interactive art competition that draws scores of visitors to Grand Rapids, kicks off Thursday, Sept. 15.
Residents will have an opportunity to check out 750 entries — paintings, sculptures, interactive performance art and more — scattered throughout downtown Grand Rapids, and vote on which artists should take home a piece of $250,000 in prize money.
“The buzz is picking up,” said Craig Searer, ArtPrize’s executive director. “We’ve got venue signage pickup happening in the last couple of days, and art installs are happening and they will continue until the start of ArtPrize.”
This year marks the 12th time ArtPrize has been held in Grand Rapids. The event was launched in 2009 by Rick DeVos, and was billed as a “radically open” competition with the world’s largest art prize. There’s been lots of changes since then, with new award structures, fewer entries, different voting methods and a significantly smaller prize pool.
One big difference this year: the elimination of the grand prize award.
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The grand prize, which was once as high as $250,000 but had fallen to $50,000 last year, was eliminated in favor of a prize system that seeks to “spread the money out throughout the entire event and recognize and honor more artists,” Searer said.
Despite the changes, Searer says there’s a lot to be excited about for this year’s event.
“The quality this year is extremely elevated,” he said. “It just keeps on getting better and better every year, and this is probably one of the best art entry years ever.”
ArtPrize is scheduled to run Sept. 15-Oct. two.
Here’s a look at what you need to know for ArtPrize 2022:
ArtPrize will feature 150 venues, everywhere from parks and museums to restaurants, bars and coffee shops, scattered throughout downtown Grand Rapids. The venues are clustered downtown, but extends as far south as Wealthy Street and as far north as Ann St. NW There are also several satellite venues outside of downtown, including MacKay-Jaycees Park, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
Some venues have one piece, while others, such as DeVos Place, the Amway Grand Plaza hotel and The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, host numerous entries.
An interactive map displaying the location of each entry can be found online at artprize.org/map.
There are 750 entries this year, Sear said. That’s down from 881 entries last year, and upwards of 1,500 entries in 2012.
While there’s few entries, Searer said attendees will see plenty of impressive exhibits downtown.
He pointed, for example, to some of the larger entries that ArtPrize helped bring to town through its grant program for artists. One such entry is EIRO, a 35-foot tower at Calder Plaza that’s equipped with speakers, lights, and screens that, according to its online description, represent “all human needs and desires.”
“People, I think, just really leaned into ArtPrize and just whatever their craft is,” Searer said, describing why he thinks the caliber of art on display this year is noteworthy. “We’ve had artists start back in 2009, and they’ve been doing this now for 13 years.”
voting and awards
Voting will look different this year as well.
To cast a vote, attendees must create an online account at artprize.org/createvisitoraccount. Once completed, attendees can pull up the online map, choose a venue and click a star icon next to the artist they wish to support. Clicking the star icon, also known as favoring the artist, increases the artist’s opportunity to win prize money and awards, according to the website.
Searer said artists who are favorited the most are eligible to win daily or weekly awards ranging from $250 to $2,500.
In addition to the daily or weekly awards, ArtPrize will also feature two sets of awards: Juried awards and public awards. The award categories, for both the public and juridical categories, include 2D, 3D, time-based, installation and digital.
In the juried category, there is a $10,000 award for each winner and a $2,500 award for the runner up. For the public awards, there is a $10,000 award for each winner.
The closing ceremony, where artists will be honored, is taking place Sept. 30 at Studio Park in downtown Grand Rapids.
A host of events are scheduled throughout ArtPrize, including walking tours, art workshops, music, art markets, expert-led discussions about art, meet and greets with artists and more. For a full list of the events planned throughout ArtPrize, visit the event’s website at artprize.org/events.
Some of the events are free while others have a price of admission.
The kickoff event for ArtPrize 2022 is taking place on Sept. 16, at Calder Plaza from 7 pm to 11 pm The event will feature music by DJ SuperDre, the Stone Soul Rhythm Band, as well as food and alcohol vendors. Those wishing to attend must make an account with ArtPrize online to gain entry.
To navigate ArtPrize, check out the event’s interactive map, which shows the location of all the event’s venues. The organization also provided the following tips for those inquiring about transportation options available for the event.
- “Mobile GR offers many parking options in Grand Rapids, including surface lots, ramps, and metered parking. There are varying price points throughout the city to accommodate budgets of all types. Streets, lots, and ramps are conveniently located, accessible, and well-lit, so you can find parking quickly and get where you’re going safely.”
- Ramp & Lot Parking: “Check out this interactive parking map from our friends at Mobile GR which highlights all the city ramps and open lots. Ellis Parking ramps and surface lots are also a great option and easy to access throughout the city.”
- Meter Parking: “Say hello to convenient street parking with motu! You no longer have to plan or dig for coins. Just look for signs with the Motu logo, park, and pay right from your mobile phone. Remember to check the signs for meter enforcement hours so you don’t get a ticket!”
- carpooling: “When you can, please consider carpooling with others. It’ll help relieve traffic congestion and make finding parking that much easier for you and your friends and family.”
- Ride the Rapid: “Make your way to and from ArtPrize more comfortably than you’ve ever imagined. Hop onto a bus, get some peace of mind, and stop spending time dealing with traffic congestion. Mobile GR partners with The Rapid to provide transit systems throughout the city of Grand Rapids. Find your route.”
- FREE DASH Transportation: “Free transportation and minimal waiting for you in Grand Rapids. Sit back and let the DASH buses do the work for you! With fast frequency and convenient routes, Mobile GR partners to provide FREE public transit between many points downtown with the DASH bus lines. Avoid parking costs with transit!”
- “Want to bring your bike downtown? Great! Bicyclists will find hundreds of bike parking spaces, several public bike repair stations and a growing number of bike-friendly businesses when traveling to and through downtown.”
Lime Electric Scooters & Bikes: “In the summer of 2022, the City of Grand Rapids Commission approved “Lime” to operate their e-scooter and e-bike share programs within a select area of Grand Rapids. The program covers a 12-mile area. These new and environmentally friendly options will allow for commuters, visitors and residents to get around Grand Rapids in new and fun ways. Learn More”
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