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Photo by ArtPrize
Downtown Grand Rapids plays host to perhaps the world’s largest art competition- ArtPrize. It takes place from mid-September to mid-October with many West Michigan artists submitting pieces.
For 2018, there were 1,250 entries by artists at 160 venues across Grand Rapids, vying for $500,000 in cash prizes. The 2018 winners were Le’Andra LeSeur’s “brown, carmine and blue” which won the $200,000 juried grand prize. Photographs by Chelsea Nix and Mariano Cortez won the $200,000 public vote grand prize for “THE STRING PROJECT.” After the 2018 event, organizers decided to make ArtPrize a biannual event, rather than annual, with the next one in scheduled for 2020.
Simply put, it’s a city-wide art competition within a 3-square mile district in downtown Grand Rapids. It is open to any artist age 18 and up. During the first 11 days, visitors can view the entries and take note of the ones they would like to vote for. Then you can cast one vote from the Top 10 entries. There will be two grand prizes worth $400,000 and eight category awards worth $160,000. Admission is free.
This was not to be a run-of-the-mill art competition. Some very creative minds back in 2009 invented ArtPrize, where any artist in the world could compete with no limitations. The venue would not be contained to one place- if a property owner in Grand Rapids wanted their storefront to become a “canvas,” it became one. And the public would vote to decide who would win the cash prizes.
So on September 23, 2009, 1,262 artists from 14 countries and 41 states entered their pieces for ArtPrize, and Grand Rapids wasn’t quite prepared for the 200,000 people that arrived for the two-week event. Over the past years, ArtPrize has featured thousands of artists artists, over $1.5 million prizes and brought over one million visitors to Grand Rapids.