It’s that time of year again: ArtPrize is back in Grand Rapids. The Grand Valley State University community will flock downtown for the next few weeks to check out the thousands of art pieces scattered across the city.

While ArtPrize provides an opportunity for students to see many different types of art and can help them to gain a new perspective on the pieces, the competition is also very beneficial for the Grand Rapids area.

This year, there are 174 venues hosting artwork and 1,537 pieces are being displayed throughout the city, a new record. In 2013, artists came from all 50 states and from 47 countries bringing different world perspectives, opinions and ideas to Grand Rapids.

ArtPrize attendees also come from all 50 states. Last year, there were 30,432 non-Michigan attendees. In addition, 30 percent of all attendees traveled more than 30 miles to reach the competition. This presents GVSU students a great opportunity to interact with new people.

In addition to the people who attend, many artists will often stand near their pieces. This gives students a chance to ask questions about where the artist got the inspiration for their piece, how long it took them to create it and what is their favorite materials to work with when making a piece.

ArtPrize is the world’s largest art competition. This year, projected attendance is 400,000 people. Not only is that 400,000 mouths to feed, it’s also 400,000 pairs of legs walking past local businesses and eyes peering through the shop windows. Last year’s ArtPrize brought in $22.1 million of net-new economic activity to Grand Rapids and 253 new jobs were created. That’s over $1 million a day, not too shabby for a 19-day competition.

There are many different works of art that can appeal to every person attending. There are musical performances, paintings, pencil drawings, works made of out recycled materials and many more. Those walking around can find pieces located in places that they wouldn’t expect, like in the river or inside restaurants around the city. 

ArtPrize is an incredibly unique experience, allowing visitors to view some amazing art while at the same time, challenging ArtPrize visitors to reconsider what their definition of art is. The Lanthorn encourages GVSU students to take advantage of the opportunities that ArtPrize presents. With over 1,500 art entries, there is bound to be something to suit everyone.