ArtPrize Decorates the Grand Rapids Economy

UPDATE: The ArtPrize winners were announced, and the winner is Chris LaPorte for his pencil on paper work entitled “Cavalry, American Officers, 1921”.  He wrote of the work:

Art Prize 2010 winner
“Many marks make up the drawing. Many men make up the regiment. Many lines make up the face…. This drawing is both a representation of the people, their legacy and the countless organization of pencil marks that make up a composition. It is about the process of drawing, and also a portrait of these men who must have survived horrific events to preserve what we experience today.”

You can check out all the winners here.

A public art competition is drawing so many people to downtown Grand Rapids that some folks say they feel like they’re in Chicago.

It’s the second annual Art Prize, an egalitarian art competition where voters select the winners. Any artist can enter as long the artist can find someone within a three-mile radius of downtown Grand Rapids willing to  display the work. Anyone who comes to see the works can vote for the winners, as long as they register first.

Elephant WalkOrganizers tout it as the world’s “largest art prize.” The winner, who will be named Thursday night, is to take home $250,000. In all, $449,000 in prize money will be awarded. The 10 finalists range from Elephant Walk, pictured above, to a delicate sand sculptures by last year’s sentimental favorite, Young Kim. They can be seen on the ArtPrize Web site.

Last year, economists hired by the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority estimated that the event drew as many as 200,000 visitors — equal to the city’s population — to the downtown area during the weeks the art was on display.

This year, 1,713 artists from all over the world entered the competition. Their work is at 192 venues across town, and already, almost half a million votes have been cast.

(To hear a radio story about ArtPrize by our colleagues at Michigan Public Radio, click here.)

ArtPrize founder, 28-year-old social entrepeneur Rick DeVos, said the original idea was to create a film festival – but said there wasn’t enough “serendipity” in that.

“We wanted to do something totally different,” said DeVos, son of prominent businessman and Amway co-founder Richard DeVos.

The younger DeVos, also a business owner, said he wanted to help nurture more creative energy in the city.

“I think our longer-term goal is building more of a creative culture in Michigan,” he said. “I want to live in that sort of place, so I’m doing all I can to bring it here.”

Changing Gears Senior Editor Micki Maynard wrote about last year’s ArtPrize for The New York Times. Read her story here.

One Reply to “ArtPrize Decorates the Grand Rapids Economy”

  1. Ever since Richard Florida published “Rise of the Creative Class” in 2002, Midwest cities have been hoping that creatives will save them. It's not a silver bullet, but it is a great way to attract people to a downtown area for an event like this. I wonder where those 200K people come from? Is it a local or regional draw?

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