Kevin Grass's visit to Art Prize 2017 in Grand Rapids

Art Prize in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been recognized as the most-attended public art event on the planet, so I thought it was time that I had a chance to see what it was all about. Actually, one of my fans at the SPECTRUM art fair in Miami urged me to participate in it, but I had never heard of the event before, and since it does not work like one of the traditional art fairs, where an artist buys booth space and then shows up for 4-5 days, it seemed like a good idea to preview this 19-day art festival that takes up venues all over the city. 

Kevin Grass outside of the Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, MI, during Art Prize 2017.

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is one of the premier venues during Art Prize. 

The cool thing about Art Prize is that you get to see completely diverse artworks. According to the website, "In 2016, 1,453 works created by artists from 40 states and 44 countries were exhibited in 170 venues." The big attraction is that the public gets to vote on their favorites, and a group of jurors does the same. Sometimes their tastes even overlap, as was the case with the following time-based submission, created out of loose red dirt, which won both the Public Vote Award and the Juried Award of $12,500 each. I was not sure I would like it when I just saw photos of it, but when I experienced the work in person and saw the time-lapse video of how it was created, I thought it was really awesome:

Florida artist Kevin Grass next to the loose red dirt rug that won the time-based art competition at Art Prize 2017.

Here, Kevin Grass stands next to a small section of Rena Derixhe's large Red Dirt Rug Monument shown at Western Michigan University during Art Prize 2017. 

Because my wife and I came after the winners were announced, we did not get to vote ourselves. We did go all over Grand Rapids to see the large venues and several of the smaller ones over two days to get a feel for how the different locations displayed the artworks and to see the kinds of postcards and other materials artists used to get the public to vote for their artworks. I got a chance to have some wonderful conversations with other artists, including Kenneth Hershenson, who called me his "artistic soul-mate." I loved his work, and found out we even both use Golden Open acrylics to create our paintings!

Kevin Grass speaking with artist Kenneth Hernshenson about his Art Prize paintings in Grand Rapids, MI.

Kevin Grass speaking with artist Kenneth Hershenson about his I DO Know Jack! series of acrylic paintings at Art Prize 2017

We put together a video of some of the pieces we encountered during our two-day visit to Art Prize. In it, you will get to see the winners of the public vote and juror's selection of the two $200,000 grand prize winners, among many other submissions. We hope you enjoy your virtual outing to Art Prize and that next year, when I hope to have my own submission into this large competition, you'll be inspired to come to Grand Rapids to see the whole spectacle for yourself! If you love art, I think you will find it a rewarding experience. The people were just wonderful there and the community rallied around art in a way that is difficult to find elsewhere! It would be excellent if we could have such support for the arts in our own local community, but it is not as walkable and does not have as good of a public transportation system, for one thing. Enjoy!

Kevin Grass navigating around Art Prize venues in Grand Rapids, MI, in October 2017.

Kevin Grass was the navigator between Art Prize venues, while his wife Michaela took the photographs contained in the video about Art Prize. Only a few images of the winners are screen shots from the website when hers did not work out.