Thursday, October 10, 2013

ArtPrize: More Than Just Art

As the last of the ArtPrize tents, easels, and pieces are packed away, the streets are swept and the dumpsters around Grand Rapids emptied; it's hard to imagine our city in the weeks prior with thousands of people bustling around.  It looks desolate compared to the previous three weeks.  To local Grand Rapidians, particularly those in the service industry downtown, it is a much-needed reprieve.  But even the most exhausted bartender cannot argue the numerous benefits ArtPrize brings to our fair city.

Walking around downtown during ArtPrize is a different experience for everyone.  People have been arguing that the art was questionable this year and only pieces with good locations got recognition, but the art was not the only thing being recognized.  Art is subjective, and kudos to anyone that had the stamina to finish a piece and enter it.  I applaud you.  
As I walked around and gazed at pieces, what caught my attention were the swarms of people lined up to get into the newly remodeled Founders Brewery or taste some of the culinary genius at SanChez.  For two weeks straight, restaurants, bars, and everything in between were full to the brim of patrons new to Grand Rapids looking for a tasty bite or a thirst-quenching beer.  

To me, the most exciting aspect of ArtPrize is the attention it draws to our budding, Midwestern home.  No competition or event draws more people to the city.  I love the fact that visitors to Grand Rapids not only get to experience such fantastic creativity through art, but also get to walk around the brand new Urban Market or taste one of our fabulous home brews.  Guests are able to see what this city is all about and where it plans to go in the future.  

ArtPrize is a chance to show off.  Yes, we were voted Beer City USA in an online poll two years in a row (2012 and 2013).  Yes, our food is unique to the Midwest and breathtakingly creative; check out Grove, an Essence Group restaurant that was named one of America’s top 100 restaurants for ‘American Cuisine’ by OpenTable in 2012 (an online reservation company).  Yes, Grand Rapids is growing, improving, and thinking creatively every day.  ArtPrize not only invites visitors to see what we have done, but where we are headed.