Art is everywhere in Grand Rapids. From coffee bars, candy shops and comic stores to hotel lobbies, restaurants, bridges and plazas, ArtPrize Seven — the world’s largest art competition — has engulfed the city.
It’s like a giant strolling art gallery, concentrated primarily in three square miles of downtown. A bit farther afield, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is showcasing the works of Japanese artists in conjunction with its new Japanese Garden.
The free 19-day festival runs through Oct. 11, so there’s plenty of time to plan an outing; crowds in previous years have topped 400,000. This year’s 1,551 entries range from small paintings and sculptures to large, interactive installations and live demonstrations. We happened the other day upon a “Symphony of Gestures”performance in which various members of a string quartet performed while lying on the floor, in a cart and perched on a ladder.
That one got my vote.
Yes, thanks to friendly technology that lets visitors vote via cellphone — and also serves as a convenient guide to the artworks and each of the 162 venues — you get to help pick winners of the $250,000 in public awards. A panel of professionals determines the other $250,000 worth of juried awards. Art fans may vote for as many entries as capture their fancy but only once for an individual work.
Still, no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to see ArtPrize Seven in its entirety, even over two or three days. But it’s guaranteed that you’ll see works that make you marvel at the artist’s creativity, scratch your head in puzzlement, laugh aloud, or, in some cases, cry.
To see more, check http://www.artprize.org