Why Art Prize is Road Trip Worthy

Why art prize is road trip worthy

I just got back from a trip to Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan. If you have never heard of Art Prize, I feel compelled to passionately tell you why I LOVE it so much and why you should add it to your roadtrip list.

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Art with Heart – Why I Love the Mission of Heartside Gallery and Studio

Art with Heart - Why I love the mission of Heartside Gallery and Studio

I first found out about Heartside during an Art Hop night in our city.  After stepping inside, I immediately knew that I wanted to come back and take the tour and learn more about what they are doing. After the taking the tour, I knew I had found a place that I wanted to begin volunteering.

Heartside is all about helping people and art.  Which is why, as we stepped inside one afternoon for our tour, I immediately wanted to cry.  Cry in a good way.  Cry, because I walked into a crowded room of people, many of whom were from the streets, who were creating art…..really good art.

Heartside Gallery and Studio

Heartside is a free art studio open to the “neighbors” of the Heartside community.

Heartside Gallery and Studio

“Heartside Neighbors* are often homeless, with little or no income, struggling with mental and physical disabilities or addiction.  Poor in the things of this world but rich in the things of the spirit, they are brimming with talent, resolute in their faith–hopeful, caring, and deeply committed to the community they have found with one another.”– Heartside webpage

Katalina from Heartside Gallery

The statement above says it all.

You can see why I LOVE this place.

They value people, love them where they’re at and also see what they can be.

The art the artists create and the environment at Heartside are a catalysis of hope.  The hope of stepping out in courage to try something new and stepping into who and what you can be.  Many of the artists at Heartside have discovered a hidden talent they never knew they had.  They’ve also been given something that has given them confidence, community, and compassion.

Our tour guide, named Denis, showed us the studio then took us downstairs to see the woodshop,

Woodshop at Heartside Gallery and Studio

pottery studio, frame room, and fiber arts room.

Pottery room at Heartside Gallery and studio

The walls of each hallway we walked thru were covered in artwork that had been created at Heartside.

Heartside also has social programs to assist neighbors as well.  They helped Denis to get aid for an apartment in his time of need and through the gallery he reconnected with art and his lost love of writing.  He now writes regularly for “Spoon” which is a monthly publication for the writers of Heartside.

Denis from Heartside Gallery and Studio

The artists at Heartside each get a space on the wall after they have been making art consistently.

Heartside Gallery and Studio

Each artist gets their name on a shelf and eventually has hopes of selling their art in the gallery.

Heartside Gallery and Studio

The artists gets 85% of each sale while 15% goes back toward purchasing supplies.

It not only gives confidence but helps create income.

Every piece of work has a story. The stories behind the people who created them and what they have overcome, is even more inspiring.

Heartside Gallery and Studio

The people you meet like Katalina, (who is pictured above), Kathy Sams and Cory are just a few of the many, who have been given hope here. (I had the honor of helping Cory pick out a few pieces for his upcoming placement on the wall.)

We recently purchased a bird feeder for my mother in law from Anthony.  He has been sober for several years now and has aquired several artistic skills since coming to Heartside.  He makes the bird feeders out of recycled materials from old buildings.  He signs, dates, and shares which old building the materials came from.  Each purchase is a piece of history.

Anthony from Hearside Gallery and Studio

Many of the supplies are donated and artists use creativity to recycle items that would be seen as trash somewhere else.  They turn trash into treasure.

Heartside Gallery and Studio

The Miracle

I’m still here and that’s a miracle

And the reason for the story

Unusual and yet in some ways typical

The mean streets, the cold nights

There’s no jobs, no futures

And the homeless live through the twilight.

Out in the streets

And at the shelters

Where we live in the city

Is still just short of miracles.

So don’t give up

And don’t give in

God is in the streets

And Jesus is near.

Where we live is where we meet

For the message from Heartside rings clear

There’s a miracle everyday

For the people at Heartside facing change.

We’re still here against all odds

We’re the world of Heartside under God

For those who came before us

And those yet to arrive

It’s just another miracle in our struggle to survive.

Here at Heartside the winter is fading

When spring comes alive, the seasons are changing

It’s the miracle of life.

-Denis Burket

You can show Heartside Gallery and Art Studio some love by stopping in and purchasing an item.

Heartside Gallery and Studio

Most items are priced between $10- $40.  This is a way to have original art at really great value and directly support people. You can also “like”them on facebook, stop in for a tour, donate materials, art supplies, time or finaces to the ministry.


If you know of other organizations with a vision incorporating art similar to Heartside, I would love to hear about them.