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News & Stories: 2008-09

106 makes room for ArtPrize April 24, 2009

On Thursday, April 23, local entrepreneur Rick DeVos announced the founding of ArtPrize, an artistic competition that will bring artists from all over the world to Grand Rapids. The contest, funded by the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, invites both emerging and established artists to create original works in spaces donated by Grand Rapids businesses and other organizations. The top prize in the competition is $250,000, and the winners of ArtPrize will be selected by the public via internet voting. Calvin College is supplying space for one artist to create her or his masterpiece in the college's (106) Gallery, located in downtown Grand Rapids. Recently, Calvin director of exhibitions Joel Zwart shared his thoughts about Artprize and (106).

Joel Zwart, Center Art Gallery curatorWhy is it important for Calvin to participate in ArtPrize? It’s a great opportunity to get an artist here that we wouldn’t regularly have access to. Because there’s so much money involved, it’s going to be a major art competition. And it will attract people from all over the world, so there will be artists showing here that wouldn’t normally show here. We always get involved in these collaborative community ventures because they’re so beneficial for us, both in attendance—because it brings a lot of people through our gallery—and also because it enhances our relationships with people in the Heartside and downtown areas.

Why is 106 a good venue for this contest? It’s in the heart of the Avenue of the Arts district. It’s right off the street. It’s an anchor for our block. We’re in a block with a lot of artist lofts, and we’re the largest of the galleries on the block. (106) is an established gallery. It’s got high visibility.

How much of the space will be used for ArtPrize? We already have an exhibition planned for the space, but I will be setting aside a small space for the artist … We’re not offering the whole space. And that’s what we’re going to see with ArtPrize. You’re going to see businesses offering up their storefronts or building facades or sidewalks.

Exhibit at the (106) GalleryIt’s a multimedia contest. There will be very creative uses of spaces by artists, of necessity because we’ll be working around existing uses of spaces. And the space that I’m offering—we could easily have an artist come and do a video art projection in there or one large painting or a performance or create a full-sized sculpture in this space.

Why is this contest good for Grand Rapids? I think it’s good because it gives people something to get to be excited about. It’s an artistic endeavor that allows average people to get involved in the arts. And the trickle-down effect is we need this synergy, this interest in the arts that will attract people to Grand Rapids and keep people here.

~by Myrna Anderson, communications and marketing

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