Ale Prize brings local art into Grand Rapids breweries


Courtesy to Grand Rapids Magazine

Chavala Ymker

Art as a communal experience has been important to Grand Rapids’ development over the last ten years. But without ArtPrize, the largest opportunity for artists to share their work was lost. The Brewer’s Guild thought they might be able to fill some of that gap, which led to the creation of Ale Prize.

Throughout October, 30 artists will be showing their art across 19 different breweries. Visitors will be able to vote on their favorite art piece, and the winner will be awarded $1,000. A juried prize of the same amount will also be given to one artist. 

Artists and breweries have always had a unique connection in Grand Rapids, but the pandemic has emphasized how important those relationships are. This event and the art will be able to garner more publicity for both artists and the breweries. 

Jonathan Ward from Brewery Vivant and Broad Leaf Local Beer shared his excitement to be a part of Ale Prize,

“We are just happy to be a venue and that the GR community has so many talented and thoughtful artists.” Ward said. “We hope the artists get a few more fans, sell some art, engender some conversation and debate. 

Three weeks ago, Alynn Guerra and Carlos Aceves were contacted by Founders Brewing Co. and asked to hang some of their art as a part of Ale Prize. Originally the pair planned to showcase some of their finished work, but when they saw the space, they realized it was an opportunity to create a larger site specific work.

With two weeks to complete the installation, the partnership resulted in a fabric cutout papel picado inspired by ‘Day of the Dead.’ The piece features the skeleton of a woman drinking beer, but the beer becomes butterflies, symbolic of the monarchs believed to be the souls of the dead returning to Mexico.

For Guerra, the project encouraged her to get back to work after months of inability to create. She points out that the bar experience is incredibly boring now that you have to stay in one place, so she hopes her and Aceves’ art adds something new and interesting to the Founders experience. 

Dayna Walton was working on a mural for Speciation Artisan Ales in their new taproom when the lockdown went into effect. Naturally, Speciation reached out to her and asked if she would install a piece for Ale Prize.

She was excited to participate in in-person art, and designed transparent prints to hang in the windows of the brewery’s garage door. Inspired by the forest and fungi, Walton wants people to see the interconnectedness of nature.

“I hope they value and notice it after being deprived of feeling connected,” said Walton.

Connecting in a shared experience is something Walton has been missing and she’s looking forward to getting out of her online bubble. She describes experiencing the real world without the mediation of technology.

“It makes my work seem more worth it than a like count,” Walton said. “It makes you feel full.”

Through Saturday, Oct. 31, visitors can vote for their favorite artwork at