We’re Going All In on ArtPrize 2023: This Year’s Unbelievable Opening Event Already Has Us Hooked

ArtPrize 2013 Calder

Unpopular Opinion? Maybe! But We’re All In on ArtPrize This Year

If ArtPrize were a stock, we’d be shouting “buy” right now.

Maybe it’s because we love rooting for the underdog, or perhaps it’s just hometown pride, but there’s more to it than that. After last year’s announcement about ArtPrize’s ownership transfer and the decline in attendance, we thought ArtPrize was done for.

ArtPrize Sculpture

However, surprise! The Grand Rapids ArtPrize team is proving us wrong.

While organizers are playing it cool, calling this a rebuilding year that’s focused on public input, we have a hunch they’re secretly planning to blow our minds.

Signs Pointing to a Sleeper Hit Year for ArtPrize

Let’s read the tea leaves together. Do you see what we see?

Several signs that this year’s ArtPrize might be a sleeper hit to rival the early years:

  1. They’ve created a new ArtPrize kickoff event that pulls out all of the stops
  2. The new director is highly qualified and has a lot of relevant experience
  3. They are keeping expectations in check and listening to feedback
ArtPrize Map

Great events don’t happen by accident. From our vantage point, the new organizers are putting in work where it counts the most.

Prediction: New ArtPrize Kickoff Event Will Be the Talk of the Town

Yep, you’re invited to the ArtPrize Opening Celebration – Thursday, September 14 at Ah-Nab-Awen Park, 220 Front Ave NW from 5-10 PM.

Ah-Nab-Awen Park ArtPrize 2013

ArtPrize has pulled out all the stops to create a never-been-done-before kickoff event that will get Grand Rapids buzzing. All of the details haven’t even been released but we’re excited from what we do know:

As the night unfolds, you’ll find yourself surrounded by food trucks serving up tasty treats and art installations that could (fingers crossed!) rival Steam Pig.

And, there will be FIREWORKS.

That alone is big news.

However, the cherry on top is Squonk’s Brouhaha – a performance spectacle that leaves people speechless.

Their description of the show: “Raw, loud, feel it in your body, see it in your neighbor’s face!” lets you know it’s going to be big.

Squonk's Brouhaha

What should you expect? At one point, the band’s ginormous, quirky Squonkcordian takes center stage. And, the audience is invited to play. The show ends with a 30-foot head made of brilliantly colored banners, comically blinking its eyes and shooting smoke out of its ears. 

Clear your schedule, grab your friends – we’re betting this one’s going to be a memory-maker.

We’re bullish on ArtPrize because, if this is what the opening event looks like, we can only image what the rest of the art festival will hold.

Catlin Whitington – ArtPrize’s New Executive Director, is Clutch

Catlin Whitington, the newly appointed executive director of ArtPrize, brings a wealth of experience to the table.

With a successful track record as the planning manager for the iconic South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas, Whitington knows a thing or two about planning, logistics, and executing large-scale events.

Notably, under his guidance, the SXSW festival witnessed a significant surge in attendance.

ArtPrize Magic Happens Behind the Scenes

Whitington joins forces with three capable downtown entities to reset and reshape ArtPrize: Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., Kendall College of Art and Design, and the City of Grand Rapids.

Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc is the same team that has nurtured GR’s relatively new World of Winter event, now the largest winter festival in the Midwest.

Manidoo Bawating World of Winter
World of Winter Festival

Given their combined successes and experience, we think Downtown Grand Rapids and Whitington have the skills needed to elevate ArtPrize.

What Do You Think?

Mark your calendars – this ArtPrize might just be like old times.

ArtPrize UICA Rooftop

But, whether or not ArtPrize reaches the energy and attendance levels of its early years, we’re hopeful that this year’s event will be full of delightful surprises and fun.

That said – what do you think is in store for ArtPrize this year?

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