Friday, September 12, 2014

Grand Rapids gears up for Artprize 2014

Downtown things are starting to gear up - for ArtPrize, that is. ArtPrize is Grand Rapids’s annual art competition; it draws artists from across the globe to compete for the votes of everyday viewers and participants. A total of $560,000 in prize money will be given out to the winners, and half of that is determined by popular vote. ArtPrize will run this year from September 24 until October 12.

Local restaurants and hotels are preparing for far more business than usual. ArtPrize 2013 generated $22.2 million in new economic activity, and the city and its entrepreneurs would love a repeat or increase in revenues for this sixth Artprize festival. It’s the nation’s largest public art competition, and an estimated 300,000 people will be on hand to participate in choosing 2014’s most popular art. The income and jobs created by this event are impressive objectively, but for workers in Michigan, long plagued with unemployment woes, they’re even more appreciated. Rick DeVos deserves a lot of credit for the long term value this open air art festival imparts to the city. Much of the art on display is also for sale, which helps local artists get noticed and connected with their audience.

This week Artprize announced the locations and services available at its hospitality spaces. The one open to the general public will be located at 41 Sheldon Blvd. Here people will be able to register to vote in Artprize, ask for general assistance, purchase ArtPrize merchandise, and view previous winning entries. The other location will be for the media, the artists, and other credentialed visitors.

ArtPrize will also be releasing apps for Apple and Android on September 22. These will allow ArtPrize participants to share their opinions and experiences and better navigate the busy downtown display areas.

Already some of this year’s 1,536 entrants have begun the process of packing and shipping their work to the city, installing, or creating their art in situ as Kevin Sudeith is with his carvings of native Grand River fishes on field stone near the public museum. Grand Rapids, already peppered with murals and former art installations, will soon be as decorated as a Christmas tree again, and people from all over the city, the state, the United States, and the world will arrive to behold it.

This is a win-win for all comers: artists, restaurateurs, businessmen, festival goers, schoolchildren, and city officials. The American Bus Association just named ArtPrize a Top 100 Best Event for 2015, and it has made numerous other lists over the past few years. Will you be there this year?