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Come for the Art, Stay for the Good Times

Lately, Grand Rapids, Michigan has been known for its beer, being named the Best Beer Town and Best Beer Scene in America by USA Today readers. Grand Rapids was known in the past as America’s Furniture Capital, but now, the city is known for ArtPrize, and it is taking the city by storm. Walking around the fascinating downtown scene, there are captivating pieces of art around almost every corner.

Running for 19 days each fall, ArtPrize is an open, independently organized international art competition. With over $500,000 in prizes given out each year, it’s no wonder an estimated 500,000+ visitors come to West Michigan each year for the event. In 2014 and 2015, ArtPrize in Grand Rapids was the most attended public art event in the world. Started in 2009, ArtPrize has seen growth every year of its existence. Over eight years, 2.9 million visitors have cast 3.2 million votes and $4.1 million has been awarded to artists.

There are 175 venues hosting at least one piece of art from ArtPrize and, lucky for you, you can enjoy the three things Grand Rapids is known for all at the same time. Some venues participating are bars, so it is possible to sit in a welcoming piece of Grand Rapids manufactured furniture, enjoy an appetizing craft beer, and view some historic art all at the same time.

Artists and art viewers from all around the world flock to Grand Rapids every fall for ArtPrize. Notable venues featured include the Grand Rapids Community College Art Gallery, Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, which has a 24-vendor market hall and two restaurants in it, along with many more amazing locations throughout the city.

ArtPrize is not just about the art, it’s about the experience involved with viewing the art, and no city has more to offer than Grand Rapids. Venues like Fountain Street Church help to show off the tremendous history of our great city. The likes of Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Malcolm X and others spoke at the church in the past, but now it is the temporary home to alluring pieces of art.

With art throughout the city, there are venues both indoors and outdoors with an abundance of unique pieces. With 1,350 entries in ArtPrize 2017, there is no lack of art to view. A full day of art viewing can begin at the likes of Sundance Grill & Bar with bloody mary’s and brunch, along with a total of nine pieces of art on display at the restaurant. After brunch, take a short stroll to The B.O.B. and view art both inside and outdoors, with over 50 pieces of art and endless food and drinks on site. It is possible to spend a couple of hours in one location, but don’t worry, you won’t be wasting time, and there is plenty more to see within a short distance.

If the weather is pleasant, there is plenty of art located outdoors, just to name a couple of places with outdoor art within walking distance of The B.O.B., you have Founders Brewing Co., Ah-Nab-Awen Park, the Grand Rapids Police Department, the Grand Rapids Art Museum and many more.

The biggest question surrounding ArtPrize has to be, can you find enough time to view all of the art and enjoy the city? The good news is, even if you can’t view all 1,350 entries, you will be left with an experience that can last a lifetime. Grand Rapids has so much to offer and take in; the city is on display just as much as the art.

Listed as “ArtPrize 101” there are five key steps to enjoying the beautiful art. First, take a moment to pause and experience the work of art. Second, what do you see or hear? What is happening? Third, why is the art the way it is? Read the artist statement to find out. Fourth, how does it relate to your own life, feelings, or ideas? Does it challenge you? The last step is to vote!

ArtPrize is a worldwide famous event hosted in West Michigan and it is meant to be enjoyed by everyone, and the city of Grand Rapids makes sure you won’t leave disappointed. ArtPrize nine runs from September 20 to October 8, so there is still plenty of time to enjoy this amazing event. Make sure to visit West Michigan for the unbelievable experience.