Grand Rapids, MI, may not be New York or Los Angeles, but it’s attempting to top both through its new ArtPrize competition. Announced last week, ArtPrize boasts the “world’s largest prize” for the arts, which will be selected by public vote.
The competition is the initiative of Rick DeVos, a dot-com entrepreneur, and underwritten by his family’s Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. Says DeVos the junior:
“It’s time to reboot the conversation between artists and the public. ArtPrize will be a celebration of art, design, and innovation that will bring artists and the public together like never before.”
The event is already hyper-connected — through Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook account — and is pushing the social with downloadable wallpaper for desktops and iPhones, a YouTube town hall meeting, and obvious plants by well-placed people in the social network space.
In a brilliant move, ArtPrize is both an international competition for artists and an effort to transform downtown Grand Rapids into an art gallery for two weeks this fall. Anyone in any venue within the ”ArtPrize boundary” can offer their space — storefront, front yard, garage, warehouse, whatever — as an art venue.
It’s a bold move on behalf of Grand Rapids, and in pursuit of both an artistic and civic mission. And it seeks to make a direct and persuasive connection between artistic expression and social innovation. Grand Rapids as a world center of culture? Why not?