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 road trip list.

What is Art Prize?

First off, I will tell you what it is.

“ArtPrize® is a radically open, independently organized international art competition with an unprecedented $200,000 top prize decided entirely by public vote.

For 19 days, three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, become an open playing field where anyone can find a voice in the conversation about what is art and why it matters. Art from around the world pops up in every inch of downtown, and it’s all free and open to the public.

It’s unorthodox, highly disruptive, and undeniably intriguing to the art world and the public alike.”

Art Prize is the gathering of creative minds from around the world who break barriers by creating art in every medium imaginable. For example, this magnificent Griffon “Myth or Logic” on display at the Amway Grand Hotel was created from bamboo suspended on lines.

Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan

My mom was an artist who died from breast cancer in 2004. Art was a vital part of her life and her spirit. When I’m surrounded by art, I feel energized and challenged to think outside the box and I’m reminded to appreciate and explore more.

This was one of the first Art Prize entries that I saw at Rosa Parks Circle my first night in town. I feel like it captures exactly how I felt inside as I found myself surrounded by art in every direction.

Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Art Prize allows guests to wander and explore all over the city in venues that they might not have been in before.

One of my favorite discoveries during my recent trip to Art Prize was the Harris Building located on Division Avenue in the Heartside District.

The Harris Building Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan

The building itself has so much character as a former site of the Grand Rapids Union Brewery in 1892 and later was used as a retail space and lodge.

The Harris Building

The space now hosts a few retailers and The Local Epicurean which makes 100% Organic small batch pastas using local Michigan products.

The Harris Building Local Epicurean

The Harris Building showcased several Art Prize entries on each floor. The 2nd floor was favorite floor because it hosted several pieces that I really enjoyed.

harris building Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan
the harris building

The entry”Trichromatic Spectra” was a beautiful visual display of movement and light.

the harris building Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan

I loved this “Jesus Mosaic” created with beer bottle caps.

Jesus mural with bottlecaps Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan

It was displayed in an area that had me dreaming of an urban downtown loft space.

the harris building Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan

 Another Art Prize entry, “Oasis” had me taking a closer look.

Oasis Mural - the harris building Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan

This giant mural had a 3D feature as well that brought the painting to the next level as you gazed through 3D glasses.

the oasis - the harris building Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan

The third floor had an entry titled “Connected” that paired 30 storytellers with 30 artists and a word theme for each story. It was really interesting to stop and read about the journeys of others.

the harris building Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan

The walls on the third floor also told a story about this building in its former life.

The Harris Building

A few doors down from the Harris Building are two other pieces that you will want to check out at Jon Hartman Photography Company.

Jon Hartman Photography Building Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan

This artist of “One Dream,” Jehovany Huerta, created this piece with graphite pencil. Do you see him in the mural?

Jon Hartman Photography Building Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan

This other piece, “The Dream- Slices of Cardboard” was created with cardboard.

art with cardboard Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Meet the Artists at Heartside Art Studio and Gallery

While you are in the Heartside District you must stop by Heartside Art Studio and Gallery.

heartside gallery and studio

This place and the people in it have a special place in my heart.

Heartside Gallery and Studio

This is an organization dedicated to helping others and also building confidence and creativity through various forms of art at this free studio.

Many of the artists who have come through these doors have been homeless or in severe poverty and Heartside has created a positive environment to help get them back on their feet.

Heartside Gallery and Studio

I had the privilege of volunteering there during the brief time that my family lived in Grand Rapids and it has left a mark on me. You can read more about Heartside here.

Heartside Gallery and Studio

You can also pick up of a copy of their book called “An Irregular Heartbeat” that shares the works and stories of the artists who are the heart and soul of the studio. This studio beautifully captures the resilience in the city of Grand Rapids to not give up and that everyone can do something great.

I just gave you a small taste of why Art Prize is so special. I will be sharing tips and my favorite pieces in an upcoming post.

I drove 6 hours to be at Art Prize and I was not disappointed! This is an event not to miss that cannot be replicated!

A road trip to Art Prize will open your eyes to the beautiful city of Grand Rapids. You will also be encouraged by the human spirit as you meet artists from all over the world who remind you how big and how small this world can be.

Division Avenue

Art Prize takes places from September 18- October 6th.

The Harris Building is located at 111 S. Divison Ave., Grand Rapids, MI.

Thanks again to Experience GR for hosting my visit. You can visit their website to find adventures to try in Grand Rapids all year long. All opinions are my own.

4 thoughts on “Why Art Prize is Road Trip Worthy”

  1. Art Prize is such a great event! I hope all of the Grand Rapids residents take the opportunity to check out how unique Art Prize really is. I tried to see as much as I could in a really short time but hopefully you will see a lot more great pieces that I missed. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for the great review of ArtPrize. My family has been down three times. I feel pretty lucky to live in a suburb of Grand Rapids! We haven’t gone to the Harris Building though…we need to go back down again!!

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