SO much more than ART…
International art competition? If you’re anything like me, this probably sounds unbearably boring. To be quite frank with you, I’ve never been much of an art connoisseur; BUT, ArtPrize is on a completely different level from anything I’ve seen.
Born and raised in Muskegon, I’ve been in the area as long as ArtPrize has been around. It’s basically a 19-day take over of the city of Grand Rapids. You can’t find parking ANYWHERE, there’s little kids from schools all over the state running around on field trips, and businesses often adjust their hours to accommodate the thousands and thousands of people coming to view the WORLD’S LARGEST ART COMPETITION.
It’s not your typical walk through an art gallery like you see in the movies, you know what i’m talking about – snobby rich people walking around looking at paint splatters on canvas with wine glass in hand… this is something special.
ArtPrize pushes the limits of what we know as art. It consists of any type of art form you could possibly imagine and lights the city on fire. They even leave some of the artist’s work up from years past and I think it’s something that has made Grand Rapids a little bit brighter.
My experience at this year’s (2016) ArtPrize was quite impressive. I think my favorite piece was a little pumpkin I found sitting on the path before you get to the Blue Bridge. It may seem kind of silly to you with the massive amount of phenomenal work you see throughout the city; (much of which takes an entire year to complete) but, from my own personal perspective, it represents everything that ArtPrize is. It is the coming together of so many different people and what they think is creative – no matter how minuscule it might seem to you.
There were other pieces that were appallingly heartwarming, like the “wishing wall” you see pictured below. This had the intention of bringing people in the city of Grand Rapids together with a common goal – what’s one wish you have for our city? The artist explained on the display that the audience was to write a wish for our city on a tag and tie it onto the exhibit. Come on, people. Where else are you going to find stuff like this?
My absolute favorite piece from this year’s ArtPrize (which unfortunately, I did not get a picture of) was “Egg Prize“. This was posted out in front the Van Andel Arena. Egg Prize was an interactive exhibit where people casually walking down the street were able to put 50 cents into a hand-crafted quarter machine and receive back a unique piece of art inside a plastic egg. I ended up getting a tiny piece of wood with a hand painted picture of the beach on it. Too neat!!
Another reason this was my favorite piece from ArtPrize was because the artist was just chilling right next to his piece! I got to chat with him about all the work he put into his project and how ArtPrize is advancing vastly in the technology aspect. He showed me how to download the ArtPrize App on my phone so I could vote for Egg Prize! Another neat fact, you only have to be 13 to vote (Herring 2016)!! It kind of amazed me that just by the touch of a button, I could be apart of someone winning $200,000.
Not only can you vote digitally, but back in 2014 ArtPrize even set up an interactive map. This is fabulous if you’re from out of the area, or if you’re like me and Grand Rapids still kinda confuses you. The map can show you anything from ArtPrize exhibits to the best restaurants and drink stops (Woods 2014). Updates to this event are in constant motion as it grows more popular each year.
If you want to stay updated on what’s going on downtown GR during ArtPrize, local news stations even tweet about the event! Simply by searching a hashtag or following a local news profile you can find out what everyone is raving about (Wallace 2014). What a wondrous tool that is the internet.
With all the field trip students running rampant around the city, I started to ask myself, what’s in it for them? That’s when I stumbled across an article on Mlive explaining how the company Switch has partnered with ArtPrize to create an interactive lab focusing on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). This exhibit featured virtual/3D experiences for students to explore all types of education (Harger 2016). Seriously wishing ArtPrize was a thing back when I was in elementary school.
It was estimated that if that there was an attendance of 110,186 there would be a total of $2,900,410.05 spent on lodging, $5,235,130.79 on meals, and $486,928.01 spent on retail shopping (O’Brien 2011). ArtPrize is bringing some serious income into the Grand Rapids area. Not only are we seeing the newest developments in art and technology, but we are experiencing an awesome opportunity for growth in our city.
ArtPrize is so much more than just a local phantasm. This one’s a world changer, guys. It is a privilege to live in a city that hosts an event to inspire creativity, excite technological advancement, and restore cultural unity. The past has seemed pretty promising, what an adventure it will be to watch Grand Rapids flourish further.
Harger, J. (2016, July 21). Switch embrace ArtPrize, will sponsor high-tech learning experience. Mlive. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from http://www.mlive.com/business/west- michigan/index.ssf/2016/07/switch_embraces_artprize_will.html
O’Brien, J., & Rizzo, M. (2011). The Economic Impact of ArtPrize 2010.Seidman Business Review, 17(1), 11.