Michigan natives can agree, ArtPrize® in Grand Rapids is one of the Mitten’s must-attend fall staples. Founded by Michigander and entrepreneur Rick DeVos in 2009, ArtPrize is a public art competition. Locals and visitors alike are welcomed into downtown Grand Rapids for the festival where art is on display across the entire downtown area, free of charge. DeVos’ vision for the event was to combat ordinarily high-culture art shows and bring art to every member of society. A unique part of the competition is that the winners are voted on equally by the public and by an expert jury, so the event is not only accessible, but interactive as well.
Beautiful Michigan autumns are the backdrop to memorable pieces and exhibitions. MSU junior Drew Bartlett recalls his favorite piece from ArtPrize where “one man lived in a ball for all of ArtPrize. He wanted to show what it was like to be homeless in the city.”
Additionally, MSU junior Brianna Brennan’s favorite piece is from one of the first years of the competition.
“The Loch Ness monster was floating in the river,” Brennan said. “I can’t remember something talked about more in the city. It wasn’t the ‘wow isn’t the weather great today!’ conversation.”
This year, ArtPrize runs from Sept. 20 through Oct. 8, and plenty of MSU students are already planning on making the trip west to attend. Bartlett has only visited one year, but he loved it so much that he’s ready to go back. Brennan won’t be able to make it to Grand Rapids this year for the festival, but she’s been attending since the first year. Brennan went to school in downtown Grand Rapids and has fond memories of walking around with her class and her family.
“It’s a great community event that brings so much excitement to the city,” Brennan said.
Although Brennan won’t be able to go to ArtPrize this year, she will still be able to vote for her favorite pieces from this year’s competition. Brennan is excited to “keep track of the top 10 and vote” on her favorites throughout the festival from MSU. Voters can sign up online through the ArtPrize official website and vote either on a computer or through the app. By including convenient ways to vote online, everyone has a chance to be a part of the fun.
This year there are $500,000 worth of prizes available for the artists. While the competition is sure to be fierce, the inclusiveness and accessibility of the festival will bring together artists and art lovers from all over the world.
Maggie Morgan is a junior majoring in professional writing with a concentration in creative writing. Hobbies include: spending all of her money on concert tickets, trying to convince Green Day to let her be their friend, geeking out about music history, dreaming of writing for Rolling Stone. You can follow her on instagram at @swaggie_.maggie.