ArtPrize: Big event, big exhibits

    More than 2.2 million visitors expected
    EIRO, the first of six large-scale exhibits commissioned by ArtPrize is installed Monday, Sept. 12.

    Photo by Lisa Enos


    Photo courtesy of the artist Noah Kaplan

    ArtPrize 2022 will feature some large-scale, highly visible commissioned installations on display for more than 2.2 million viewers.

    Installation of the first of these exhibits started today at Calder Plaza with, “EIRO,” according to ArtPrize Executive Director Craig Searer.

    “The one on Calder is a 20-foot-tall, LED screen with an interactive app that can make it do all sorts of things,” said Searer. The artist’s Instagram page describes the exhibit as a giant eye that is an “interdimensional beacon and portal between virtual and physical realms.”

    Photo courtesy of the artist Noah Kaplan

    If that doesn’t sound intriguing, there’s “Sad Blimp” at Rosa Parks Circle: “A big helium blimp, like something you’d see out of a Macy’s Day Parade,” said Searer.  “It’s similar to the shape of the Goodyear Blimp. There will be a movie displayed on the side of the blimp itself,” he said.

    The aforementioned installations are two of six pieces that ArtPrize commissioned for this year’s event, which runs Sept. 15 – Oct. 2.

    Known as the “ArtPrize Featured Public Projects” grant, which began in 2016, the idea made a comeback this year and ArtPrize awarded $150,000 to six artists (or collaboratives) to install the large-scale public art exhibits.

    In addition to the exhibits on display at Calder Plaza and Rosa Parks Circle, other prominent outdoor spaces where the large ArtPrize-commissioned pieces can be viewed are Gillett Bridge, outside of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and Ah-Nab-Awen Park. There is also a traveling exhibit by Site Lab included in the mix.

    Searer said he’s expecting more than 2.2 million visitors to ArtPrize this year. He based his estimate on data provided by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., the entity responsible for managing in the urban core of Grand Rapids. The entity tracks foot traffic in the downtown area, which measured 2.2 million visitors during last year’s ArtPrize.

    Opening Day is Thursday, Sept. 15.

    “Things really start happening around noon and will go well into the evening,” Searer said.

    There will be a community kickoff event at Calder Plaza, 300 Monroe Ave NW, on Friday, Sept. 16,  7-11 p.m.

    Searer acknowledges that it can be daunting for newcomers to find their way around Grand Rapids. In order to remedy the situation, new this year is an interactive map.

    “If you’re trying to get around,  is going to be your new best friend,” Searer said.





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