ArtPrize2010-TMDid you know that Grand Rapids, MI is the home to ArtPrize? No? Well, if not – then you’re probably wondering what exactly ArtPrize is and why it’s such a big deal. The quick and easy answer is that ArtPrize is an art competition, pure and simple. But, with a twist – that makes this the most unique art competition you’ve ever seen or heard of.

You see, any artist can enter – as long as you can find a venue to host your artwork. And any location within the ArtPrize boundary (mostly within downtown Grand Rapids) can become a venue to host art. This is the second year of ArtPrize and there are 1713 artists with artwork showcased at 192 different venues.

ArtPrize2010-TM3Now what does this mean for those of us who aren’t artists and don’t own a business in downtown Grand Rapids? Well that’s the other unique part of ArtPrize – anyone can vote. There are, as of this moment, almost 25,000 registered and activated voters. And so what’s left? Well, heading downtown to enjoy some incredible art, of course. ArtPrize runs from September 22nd until October 10th this year. Voting continues until September 30th – after that the Top 10 pieces of art will be identified and then a second round of voting will determine the winners from that group. The prizes are monetary – the grand prize winner will receive $250,000 and a total of $449,000 in prize money will be given away. But the real winners? Are the public, who gets the opportunity to view so many different and unique pieces of artwork in one area all at once. And the City of Grand Rapids, which gains so much from hosting this unique competition.

I didn’t make it downtown last year at all for ArtPrize and really didn’t know much about it until it was already underway. This year I really wanted to get down there and/or take my girls – but I didn’t know what to expect in terms of parking, shuttles, how to get around from venue to venue… That’s one thing I do miss about working downtown – I used to know everything that was going on down there and could explore on my own during lunchtime or after work. So I was excited when a friend called me and invited me to go downtown with her on Saturday night for a couple of hours.

ArtPrize2010-TM2We didn’t have a whole lot of time – and there’s certainly more to see than you can fit in a 2-hour block. So we focused on two of the larger venues that had multiple pieces of art displayed inside and outside – the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the B.O.B. We saw so many amazing, creative, unusual, beautiful, truly unique pieces of artwork – everything from sculptures to paintings to performance art. My pictures don’t even come close to showing the crowds, the energy – the vibe that was happening that night. Something I’ve only ever experienced anything like when I was in New York City earlier this summer… I hope to take the girls back later this week or over the weekend to experience even more of ArtPrize with them. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience. And it’s only here, in Grand Rapids. 🙂

ArtPrize = Part arts festival, part social experiment
This international contest is decided solely by public vote. The event is designed for you to take it into your own hands and make it what you want it to be. The outcomes of ArtPrize are infinite. What will you bring to the equation?

You = Creator
ArtPrize is a platform for creation. The event’s organizers are just a small part of the whole. Everyone brings something unique to the table, and we’re excited to see what you will bring.

Art = Community
Art is the focus of the competition, but the main event is community. Artists take over the city, visitors explore and new relationships form. Communities open to new ideas organically.

The community keeps growing, even after the event is over.

Want to see more photos of art from ArtPrize? Check out the official Flickr group