Project 1: Putting a twist on Grand Rapids’ art scene


Amanda Browder’s “Kaleidoscopic” display

Story by Abi Safago, Reporter
Photo courtesy of ArtPrize

Every fall, Grand Rapids’ streets are decorated with artwork from many different people with many different backgrounds thanks to ArtPrize. This year, ArtPrize will be taking a break as Project 1 hits downtown.

Where is ArtPrize going?

ArtPrize will always have a place in the hearts of this city’s citizens, but this new update to our typical scene is a great change of pace. To give this city more life, it has to grow– and one way of doing this is by showing fewer artists, but on a larger scale. 

Instead of showering the city with countless [wonderful] works and events, a more low-key event will be taking place every other year- this year being the first. ArtPrize will still be around, it just won’t be every year. Project 1 and ArtPrize will be rotating seasons, so you can get back in your typical groove next fall.

Project 1 will make its debut this fall from September 7 to October 27, the same time of year ArtPrize typically runs.

Why are we changing it?

ArtPrize changing doesn’t mean we are losing out on art. It just means that every other year, instead of mass-showcasing many works of art, it will be showcasing a few large pieces of local and international artwork instead. 

To put it better, ExperienceGR explains, “for the last ten years, ArtPrize has featured art from thousands of artists in a public competition. This year, Project 1 by ArtPrize introduces a commissioned exhibition that dives deeper into the carefully curated work of five local and international artists.”

The purpose is to take a break from the intense and busy art scene to dive into more custom experiences with art. Take a breath, and enjoy the customized pieces through the city. 

What can we expect this year?

This year, Project 1 has a special theme that is fitting with breaking barriers in downtown. This fall, “Crossed Lines” will be featured. The goal of this theme is to break down and erase both figurative and literal lines in our community and encourage conversation about doing so. 

One project that is easy to spot was done by Amanda Brower, who has large-scale fabric installations for building exteriors on display. You can spot these bright patterned and almost quilt-like installations near Rosa Parks Circle and outside some of the major hotels downtown.

There are also other great exhibits that may shock you, such as “The Oracle of the Soulmate”  by Heather Hart, and “The Boom and the Bust” by Olalekan Jeyifous, which inspires conversations on housing discrimination and inequities. 

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