ArtPrize Provides a Unique Experience For All

Sam Noonan, Staff Writer

ArtPrize is a must-see event for natives of Grand Rapids, and many outside of it. The event attracts people and artists from many other states, and it’s no surprise to see an array of different license plates. It may be the busiest time of the year in Downtown GR, and anyone can enjoy a trip to see some art. According to the official website, ArtPrize is the most-attended public art event on the planet, by far no easy task and something that shows how popular it really is. With artists from all around the U.S., there is a wide variety of art to look at and it’s impossible to get bored.

The art ranges from short films, to massive sculptures, to walk-through events, and more. With a large variety of venues, you can walk pretty much anywhere in the city and see the products of these many artists. This is the 8th year of ArtPrize, and it is bigger than ever. Artists compete for $500k in prize money, and this especially draws artists from all over. Young and old alike can come to ArtPrize, and it’s just as much a location for a school trip as it is a day-long adventure for any age group. Venues often have similar art styles to each other, for example the UICA has mainly technology related pieces and short films. All over the city there are also “hot spots” of art, popular venues that have some of the most visited art pieces. Often, artists while be sitting or standing near their pieces, so it’s a great idea to talk to them about their art or just have a conversation.

Personally, I enjoy ArtPrize every year that I go. I love walking around and seeing art of all mediums and forms, and I’m never disappointed by the event. With countless restaurants that you can visit (and even see art in) you’ll never find yourself hungry, and even if the weather isn’t the best there are plenty of indoor places to see the art. Anyone of any age can come to ArtPrize and enjoy it, and I highly recommend that everyone comes downtown this year to check it out.

Walking around the city, it can at first overwhelming and difficult to find where you can see the most art, but since everything is centered around areas like Monroe Center, Rosa Parks Circle, etc., it’s not as bad as one might imagine. However, just visiting these busy areas, I found, wasn’t the best way to experience ArtPrize. Exploring and just walking around the city can let you see some entries you may not have seen otherwise, and it most definitely can’t hurt to take an adventure. Venturing to the Downtown Market, I ran into Granddaughter’s Playhouse, a miniature house resting right up next to Peppino’s. It may have been my favorite entry, and after having a conversation with the builder, I, along with my friends, was marveling at the detail of the entry. Another piece that I think is a must-see is Sweet Spot, a room-sized grouping of nylon cord. The entry is made up of 19 miles of the cord, and it’s possible to see many different color groupings and illusions as you look through the cord.

A third entry that I highly recommend seeing is Wounded Warrior Dogs by James Mellick. Consisting of seven wooden dogs, six of them representing service in various wars, and the seventh representing the ultimate sacrifice. Talking to Mellick, he was very passionate about his piece, and wanted to convey how serious his piece is and how he wanted people to realize the needs of wounded veterans. This piece, along with Sweet Spot, have both made it into the top twenty and personally, I feel that they will put up competition for the overall win.

I highly suggest that if you haven’t yet, take a trip downtown and spend a day, or a couple of hours, walking around at ArtPrize. Bring friends, family, whoever you’d like. After all, it only happens once a year, and if people can come from out of state, you probably can too – you won’t regret it. Most artists are more than willing to have a conversation with you, and the many restaurants provide anything you’d ever want to eat. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the event this year, and I’d love to come next year, because for me ArtPrize never disappoints.