Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, September 21, 2009

I wish I had more time to write about ArtPrize, because I’ve really enjoyed it so far. For those of you in and around West Michigan, it would be hard for you not to know about it. For those outside, here’s a quick primer:

ArtPrize is an international art competition, being held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The exhibition will be from September 23 to October 10, 2009. ArtPrize is unusual both for the size of the top prize ($250,000, combined with other prizes cummulatively amounting to half a million dollars), as well as for the method of judging entries. There is no juror. The artists negotiate a venue with local exhibitors, and the works will be voted on by the public using modern networking technology.

And really, it’s not much more than that, which to me is the charm. Some works have exceeded expectations, some have confounded, some have thrilled, some have puzzled, some have offended, some have inspired, some have, well, you get the idea. And that’s what the cartoon was trying to convey — there has been a wide range of reactions (maybe even to the same piece of art). But the point is that people are moving through the streets of Grand Rapids and having reactions.

Hmmm… That all sounded a little too artsy, didn’t it? How about this instead: When Jane and I visited Wednesday, I saw an enormous table and chairs that has been plunked on top of a bridge, people constantly walking into other people’s camera shots (really funny when it’s not happening to you), pictures of naked painted ladies, plus we got a free beer. AND I successfully parallel parked (on the first attempt) in a free, on-street spot. There. That sounds more like a good time, right?

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