ArtPrize season is upon us! The crowds have descended upon downtown Grand Rapids, as they always do – but that doesn’t have to keep you and your family away from the festivities. Knowing which venues to visit, and when to ArtPrize can make your visit a lot smoother, with less time waiting in lines.
We’ve had the chance to sneak preview several of this year’s top venues, and are already placing bets on which entries will make the top 20. We’re bringing your experience to you!
Here are a few tips for local West Michiganders who want to enjoy ArtPrize without too much fuss:
When to ArtPrize
Are you planning to take your entire family downtown GR to enjoy a day of fun, art and food? If a family excursion is what you’re looking for, you’ll want to avoid evening and nighttimes downtown, which is when all the nightlife and events tend to kick into gear. Morning and afternoon are more serene, and with the beautiful weather we’ve been having, they’re the perfect time for the family to enjoy the city.
Saturdays and Sundays are the worst days for crowds. If there’s no other day you can make it, be sure to start early in the morning – as early as you can, to beat the crowds and evening events. If at all possible, go during a weekday. Pull the kids out of school for a day, cash in a day of PTO – whatever you have to do. Enjoying ArtPrize with minimal crowds and lines is DEFINITELY worth it.
Most importantly: if you want to participate in voting, do your ArtPrizing before October 3rd. This is when the first round of voting closes, and the period of time when the top 20 finalists are chosen.
Plan your route strategically
It’s easy to see everything you want to see, and to enjoy your favorite food trucks or restaurants – if you plan your route. This will be largely dependent on where you decide to park. If you have friends who live within walking distance of downtown, park at their house or apartment! If not, find a ramp on the outskirts of downtown. Cherry Street and the Gallery parking ramps are in Heartside but close to the city center. There are many more ramps in the city center, but if you’re heading downtown during peak hours, these will likely be full.
It’s always possible that you might find street parking, but don’t count on it. Driving around ArtPrize crowds looking for street parking could take you all day.
Next, ask yourself: which venues do you want to see the most? Want to see the riverfront, public museum, and DeVos Place? You’ll likely want to trek across the Blue Bridge, walk north along the river, up to the public museum, then back over the footbridge behind DeVos Place, which will bring you right in line with Monroe Avenue and some of ArtPrize’s hottest venues. If you’re interested in exploring SiTE:LAB’s off-the-beaten-path Rumsey Street Project, you’ll want to plan that visit either first or last, as it’s outside of reasonable walking distance from city center.
It’s easy to create a looped path that allows you to see everything without backtracking, with just a little planning.
Voting, navigating, etc.
ArtPrize’s app has you covered here. Just download the app, and use the map view to help plan your route. You can register to vote through the app once you’re within ArtPrize’s boundaries.
Our favorite venues
No two venues in ArtPrize are alike – and there are many to explore!
This year, a few have already caught our attention:
- Processing Fiber at 250 Monroe
- Nature/Nurture at The Grand Rapids Art Museum
- Western Michigan University
- Calder Plaza
Also, don’t forget that ArtPrize’s HUB at 41 Sheldon will not only have all the ArtPrize info and swag you could want, but last year’s Public Vote and Juried Grand Prize winner Intersections, by Anila Quayyum Agha, is on display again here. If you didn’t see it last year, it’s well worth the visit.
Catch a few photos from these venues below.
Processing Fiber at 250 Monroe
Western Michigan University
Intersections at the HUB
Nature/Nurture at Grand Rapids Art Museum