A love of art and the spirit of competition will be alive and well in Grand Rapids later this month.
ArtPrize, the annual international art competition, returns from Sept. 14 to Oct. 1, transforming Beer City USA into an art mecca with nearly 650 installations, fun events, and interactive programming at more than 150 venues.
“ArtPrize spotlights some of the world’s most gifted artists, offering them a place to feel supported (and) celebrated,” Catlin Whitington, ArtPrize’s executive director, said in a press release. “This event is truly a one-of-a-kind opportunity to witness remarkable work from across the globe where you will see, experience, and live with art at every turn.”
ArtPrize 2023 will feature more than 800 artists from 30 states and 15 countries as they compete for nearly a half million in prize money in the public vote and juror competition categories.
Attendees young and old can delight in the impressive array of installations that cover a variety of art mediums and are displayed in galleries, museums, storefronts, and many other places in Grand Rapids during this free, 18-day event.
A Vision Becomes an Annual Art Celebration
ArtPrize began in 2009, bursting onto the scene and quickly becoming a phenomenon, not just in West Michigan but around the world.
The inaugural event featured 1,262 artist entries or collaboratives in 159 venues with 200,000 attendees. By 2013, those numbers grew to 1,649 artist entries at 162 venues with an estimated 438,000 visitors to Grand Rapids.
It was created by Rick DeVos of the well-known DeVos family, which contributes more than $500,000 annually to the event’s budget. His vision of an art event has allowed any artist in the world to take part, allowed Grand Rapids businesses to turn their properties into venues, allowed the public to have a direct say in who wins the contest, and allowed for the creation of astounding works of art.
During the inaugural ArtPrize event in 2009, the public voted for winners on their phones and online. In 2010, the event added juried competition, broken up into categories. In 2014, the event added parallel prize tracks, whereby winners would be determined by public vote and juried selection for equal amounts of prize money.
From its inception, ArtPrize has been all about inclusivity, which continues to be reflected in the big prizes awarded, the public voting, the huge crowds, and the engaging conversations about art.
Today, ArtPrize 2.0 is a collaboration between Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., the City of Grand Rapids, and Ferris State University’s Kendall College of Art and Design.
Selecting ArtPrize Winners
ArtPrize submissions are broken up into five categories: 2D, 3D, digital, time-based, and installation. Visitors can see a wide spectrum of art spanning from 2D paintings and photos to 3D sculptures to displayed pieces to videos and films to site-specific installations.
ArtPrize winners are selected one of two ways: Via a public vote and by a juried competition.
The public vote allows voters aged 13 and up to award $175,000 in prize money. To vote, voters must be within the ArtPrize district boundaries between Sept. 14-28. They can then scan the QR code on the artist label or visit experience.artprize.org.
Voting must be done on a mobile device, such as a phone. Voters can register as early as Sept. 7, and voting is done by scanning a QR code or entering an artist’s five-digit ID.
The first round of voting narrows the field to the top 25 finalists. The next round determines the first, second, and third-place winners.
In total, $400,000 will be awarded this year, and the juried competition will feature judges with much expertise and experience. Juried Awards will be given to 10 artists, a winner and runner-up in each category, and ArtPrize Visibility Awards.
The Visibility Awards support and recognize contemporary artists from different under-represented communities. The honors, which will award $15,000 to each community group, include:
- The Vanguard Award, which awards contemporary Black artists
- The Originators Award, which awards contemporary Indigenous artists
- The Prism Award, which awards contemporary queer artists
- The Crossroads Award, which awards contemporary Asian artists
Where to See All the ArtPrize Offerings
Inclusivity has always been at the core of ArtPrize, and those who want to attend are invited to explore public spaces throughout downtown Grand Rapids during the festival to find both discovery and inspiration.
For first-timers and long-time ArtPrize visitors alike, there’s a lot to see. The ArtPrize district spans almost 4 square miles of the urban core in Grand Rapids with dozens of venues, including the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum, Van Andel Arena, public parks, and many more.
Whether you have a whole day (or two) to spend in Grand Rapids immersing yourself in art, or you’re short on time and looking to see art in ArtPrize’s best venues, there’s something awe-inspiring for everyone.
18 Days of Spectacular Events
Not surprisingly, art is at the heart of ArtPrize, but the 18-day event also includes daily events that add to the experience, including workshops by talented artists, live entertainment, family events, and much more. The slate of events this year includes:
- Bikes@ArtPrize where visitors are able to take bike care classes and go on guided bike tours of ArtPrize
- Immersive WisckAR x ArtPrize Scavenger Hunt for which hunters can enjoy the thrill of five separate hunts on the Pantone Pathways — each hunt has seven stops and those who can find them all win a prize
- ArtPrize Oasis, an urban expanse along the Grand River that’s transformed into a place to have fun, recharge, and relax during the event
- Live “Paint My Ride” event where art students paint Honda vehicles that will be displayed in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids near Rosa Parks Circle
- ArtPrize 5K, which begins and ends at the ArtPrize Oasis
- Family-friendly yoga classes where experienced instructors lead families through experiences to relax the mind
Find More to Explore in Grand Rapids
As one of the biggest cities in Michigan, Grand Rapids offers much to see and do for those who are in town for the ArtPrize festivities.
Visit Fredrick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
One of the most innovative museums in Grand Rapids is Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. Here, visitors can find the perfect blend of fine art and stunning natural beauty. Locals consider it a gem, but it attracts visitors from all over the state for its art and immaculate gardens.
Explore the Wonders of the John Ball Zoo
The John Ball Zoo is home to an exciting variety of habitats and animals that make it a seasonal favorite for West Michiganders. Also, there are interactive activities like the Zip Line and the Funicular that make the zoo a great spot for a family adventure.
Quench Your Thirst in Beer City USA
Grand Rapids has become known around the state and around the nation as Beer City USA, and for good reason. The locally owned breweries here offer delicious and delightful brews for craft beer enthusiasts and are good sports for soaking up local culture.