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Countdown to third annual ArtPrize begins

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
ArtPrize Executive Director Catherine Creamer shows off the ArtPrize totebag. The bag is one of at least 50 different pieces of ArtPrize swag available for purchase.

Organizers and artists are working hard to get everything done in time for opening day later this month.

The winner of the art competition gets $250,000 in prize money. Organizers claim it’s the world’s largest art prize.

People who visit Grand Rapids during the event determine the winner through online voting.

Construction crews are finishing drywall and laying carpet inside the new ArtPrize hub. It’ll serve as a gathering place for volunteers and artists, a venue for a speaker series, and a retail store for all sorts of neat ArtPrize swag.

I meet ArtPrize Executive Director Catherine Creamer at the hub. More than 1,500 works of art will be spread all over Grand Rapids. It’s hard to see it all. Creamer says this year they’ll highlight pieces that are trending in each neighborhood.

“That’ll get you out to a variety of other venues and see art that you might have missed. It helps also people to become really engaged in the conversation.”

Creamer says the whole point of ArtPrize is to get more people talking about art.

This is the third ArtPrize event. This year Creamer says there will be more entries that include live music and performance art.

Charles Jurries is participating in ArtPrize this year for the first time. He says most of the hard work is already out of the way. Now, he says he’s just trying to calm his nerves.

“There might be people who come up, scoff and say ‘piece of crap. Why is that in?’ I mean, ArtPrize attracts tens of thousands of people and potentially they could all see my work and have opinions on it,” Jurries sighs, “That’s weird. I didn’t expect that nervousness at all.”

You can preview Jurries’ “64 people lose jobs” and other entries in this year’s ArtPrize on the organization’s website.

ArtPrize is free. It starts September 21st and runs though the first week of October.

Lindsey Smith is Michigan Radio’s investigative reporter. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor and West Michigan Reporter.
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