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October 16, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

ArtPrize Obsession

By Rachael Ellen More Blogs by This Author

Grand Rapids, Michigan has been invaded.

The riverside city has been occupied by thousands of pieces of art and hundreds of thousands of people who want to see them.

If you’re unfamiliar with ArtPrize and what it’s all about, let me give you a quick rundown of the dets (from a West Michigander with the lowdown):

ArtPrize is the biggest art competition in the world, nestled within the everyday bustle of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This year alone, over 1,500 people entered their pieces into this contest, and their art has been scattered around the city to over 150 local venues. In its entirety, the competition encompasses three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids for 19 days, transforming the city into a living, breathing art gallery.

Unlike other art competitions, ArtPrize is broken into two categories. The first branch of the competition revolves around the public vote, which distributes $360,000 in prizes. (Yeah, that’s a lot of dough.) The public vote is registered online or through the ArtPrize app, and their website’s tally stands at a staggering 446,850 votes for 2013.

The second half of the prize money is distributed by a jury who give away $200,000 in different categories.  The competitions is described by the ArtPrize head honchos as “unorthodox, highly disruptive, and undeniably intriguing to the art world and the public alike.”

Courtesy of

ArtPrize was incepted by Rick Devos, who decided to try a social experiment like none other. Devos announced in early 2009 his plans for devising the ArtPrize competition, but no one expected the great outpouring of support from the public.

Artists hoping to enter the competition only have to pay a $50.00 dollar fee, and are then left to find a venue or have a venue approach them. Over the past four years, the competition has featured an eclectic collection from artists all around the globe. In the first year, ArtPrize hosted artists from 41 states and 14 countries, entering pieces like the Loch Ness Monster and a giant moose made of nails.

Courtesy of and uploaded by xnatedawgx.

Now, in 2013, ArtPrize has become a vital part of the culture of West Michigan and a source of pride for local Michiganders like myself, inviting thousands of people from around the nation and the world to come and enjoy the beauty of our city.

Courtesy of MLive: $250,000 Grand Winner of the inaugural ArtPrize, “Open Water, no. 24” by Ran Ortner.


Header Photo: Courtesy of Photo taken by Brian Kelly Photography. 

More from Rachael Ellen Others Are Reading


  • Rachael, you left me wanting to read more! You need a part two to this story! Maybe showing the winner for each year!

  • Good article!

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