A ‘wild and operatic’ ArtPrize opening

    Venues, donors, sponsors, participants, placemaking and events
    A world premiere performance by the renowned visual and musical spectacle, Squonk Opera (pictured) will kick off the festival.Photo by Oscar Jordan.

    ArtPrize 2023 opens Sept. 14 with a kickoff party at Ah-Nab-Awen Park, 5 to 10 p.m. that will feature a performance by the wild and operatic national touring act Squonk Opera, followed by a fireworks display.

    In its newest incarnation, ArtPrize operates as a partnership between Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc., and The City of Grand Rapids, with a new Executive Director, Catlin Whitington, at the helm.

    “Community building is a passion of mine,” said Whitington, who has a background in urban planning and previously held the position of Vice President of Campus Operations at the Long Center of Performing Arts in Austin, Texas. His vision for ArtPrize centers around creating an abundance of opportunity for people to rediscover their city through fun new events, and placemaking– converting existing spaces into cool venues that will be active throughout the 18-day duration.

    Some must-see ArtPrize venues to check out this year will include:

    • A Clubhouse at the former UICA, 2 W Fulton
    • An Oasis at 555 Monroe in partnership with Frederik Meijer Gardens. Oasis Block Parties are scheduled for Sept. 16, 23, 30, 2 to 4 p.m.
    • A Rec Room at 975 Ottawa NW  (now known as SILVA , the venue for an upcoming new restaurant, bocce court, and event space)
    • Squonk Performance and Workshop: Sept. 15, 16, 17, noon, 3 & 6 p.m., Ah-Nab-Awen Park
    • ArtPrize Closing Awards Ceremony: Sept. 29, 6 to 9 p.m., Rosa Parks Circle

    With 1000 artists displaying works of art in 155 venues, there will be much to see; some that will be hard to miss, like Paint My Ride–– six Hondas decorated by Kendall Art students, which will be parked along Monroe Center. A self-guided, color-coded “Pantone Pathway” will help folks navigate the rest.

    Whitington said he seeks to strengthen ties with other events that happen concurrently, such as Tech Week, Confluence and the African American Music Festival which celebrates artistic contributions of the local African American community Sept. 15 and 16 at Studio Park.


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