The ArtPrize Experience

There’s a wonderful FREE event (my soul sings!) that occurs in West Michigan each fall season, and this year marks its 8th consecutive year.

ArtPrize is an event that I – and many in West Michigan – look forward to year after year. As the weather begins to cool, it provides an excuse to “get out” and wander the streets of Grand Rapids, viewing art of all shapes, colors and sizes, created by the hearts, minds and hands of artists throughout the world – all in competition for the Grand Prize: one of two winnings of $200,000, awarded to the two artists with the most popular votes.

Folks come from far and wide to little ol’ Grand Rapids for the month-long event, including Kathie Lee Gifford (2010) and Donald Trump just last week (surely an attempt to win over our mitten ‘swing state;’ I’m not convinced he’s done it). A typical schedule for the event: wander around (venue maps are available, if desired – my husband and I usually just wing it), inside and outside of buildings, down the river front, mainly downtown, viewing each entry and reading the short description/artist statement. The streets of GR are littered with people all day, every day, during the month-long event, and it’s a fabulous economic boost; nearly every restaurant or bar you walk into is completely full during all hours of the day.

The 2016 top 20 Artprize entries were just announced, many of which we were lucky to stumble across during our outing. My personal favorites: Ashes to Ashes (which looks as if it’s literally on fire) and The Butterfly Effect, of which I snapped a close-up. To get the full effect, you really must see it: beautiful monarchs hand-crafted in bronze come to life as they swirl around the foyer between DeVos Hall and the Amway Grand, lighted just perfectly to reflect off their shiny wings. I was left speechless for a few moments, gazing at their beauty.


I love downtown at any time of the year or event; this particular event seems to amplify its hometown charm tenfold. You can bring the kids along, it gets you around the city, most likely will have you eating downtown, and if you hit the right spots, you’ll experience some really great art. Thrifty Hollander Artprize event rating: 8.

If you haven’t visited Grand Rapids, DO IT! A complete list of events taking place any time throughout the year can be found at

Have you been to Artprize this year or in years past? What rating would you give?

-thrifty hollander




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