ARTPRIZE of Grand Rapids: Where To Next?

“I just want to see crazy crap all over Grand Rapids” – Rick Devos (Vande Bunte, 2011)

ARTPRIZE of Grand Rapids: Where To Next?



Artprize is described as “a radically open international art competition decided by public vote and expert jury that takes place each fall in Grand Rapids, MI.” (“Plan Your Visit”, 2016) Over the years since it’s beginning, Artprize has expanded and transformed into the world’s largest awarded art competition. The use of technology has gotten even crazier as well as the size of the event. Artprize, even from the beginning, had a special feel to it. It’s like going to a museum that’s been flipped inside out in a parallel universe. (Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic- but you get the idea). It’s insane!

As Jonathan Hunsberger, the Artprize Director of Technology, stated, “ArtPrize is an ever-evolving experiment, and technology is an essential catalyst within it. After eight years, we’re excited to still be leading the way audiences engage contemporary art through the use of technology” (Woods, 2016). The way people view, learn about, and vote for different pieces of art in this competition is all connected through technology.

Each year, Artprize has enhanced their mobile app to improve the way users visit Artprize. This year, the List Feature (which allows you to scroll through all of the art entries) and the Interactive Map Feature (which allows you to actively learn about nearby art entries), have both been improved on the Artprize Eight Mobile App. The basis of Artprize was to allow modern artists to present their work in a variety of unique ways, one of which being technology (Woods, 2016).

I believe in order to continue the growth of Grand Rapids, we need to invest more technology uses into Artprize, since it is such an attraction to visitors, investors, etc. Grand Rapids was recently listed as the number three ranked city in the nation for economic growth. (Lloyd, 2015)

I have lived here for five years now, and even in that time have noticed such an exponential amount of growth throughout the city. Artprize is definitely a way of showcasing the changes and improvements that the city has made each year. Tom Mroz, Vice-President of Marketing for The Right Place, “The fact that we (Grand Rapids) aren’t dedicated to one particular industry, we have a strong healthcare industry, a strong manufacturing industry we have a very strong growing IT industry” (Lloyd, 2015). He goes on to mention that there are other sectors that could grow faster, but just need the skilled workers to grow them.

Maybe showcasing technology through Artprize can bring about different business ventures, plans, or ideas. It’s a great way to say “Here’s what we have, and here’s what we can do for you.”

Mitchell Moss discusses how the growth of urban areas in supplemented extremely by the use of technology (Moss, 1998). Moss states, “The new multimedia industry needs a broad array of talent harnessed to the latest computer and graphics technologies. Large cities and metropolitan regions are best equipped to supply this skilled labor. They already have the writers to produce copy, artists to design graphics, musicians to deploy sound, and skilled technicians to integrate the various components” (Moss, 1998, pg. 117-118). Technology is so popular in art and other areas of society today, that it has no choice other than to continue growing.

Artprize, in particular, could plan to expand the use of technology in various ways. For example, they could continue and push for art entries such as Jeffrey Augustine Songco’s Let’s Dance America! (pictured), which features viewers interacting by dancing and recording the dancing via internet. The piece included a “selfie station”, a trending hashtag #LetsDanceAmerica, a geolocation Snapchat filter, and an iPhone app called “Yay America!”(Songco, 2016). Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press referred to this piece as the best video of Art Prize Eight, and called it “funny and charming” (Stryker, 2016).

Pieces like this are intriguing and keeps the technological movement going. Younger audiences, such as the ever-great millennials, are viewing these art pieces and are no longer satisfied with the exclusion of technological pieces. We want more exciting, more involved, and more user-friendly art.

Another way Artprize could advance the use of technology could be more interactive or virtual reality pieces. VR has become of high interest in society today, as we are forever in search of better technology. In fact, Artprize has began using the services of “Perspective 3-D” to enable users to view art entries on devices virtually without being physically present.

I believe, in order to keep the audiences happy and the technology growth rising in Grand Rapids, Artprize could look for even more ways of using technology, specifically in art entries. We all love a user-friendly experience in this day and age of in-your-face technologies. Who knows what could be on the horizon of the future for Artprize…





J Woods. (2016, July 26). ArtPrize Introduces New Mobile Experience (Web blog post). Retrieved from

J Songco. (2016). Let’s Dance America! (Web blog post). Retrieved from

Llyod D., Eric. (2015, June 20). Grand Rapids Ranked 3rd in U.S. for Economic Growth. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from

Moss, Mitchell L. (1998) Technology and Cities. Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research, Volume 3, Number 3, pg. 107-127. Retrieved from

M Stryker. (2016, September 27). Discovering the sublime, avoiding the ridiculous at ArtPrize. (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from

Plan Your Visit. (2016) Retrieved from

Vande Bunte, Matt. (September 30, 2011). Rick DeVos: ArtPrize is not about who wins, ‘I just want to see crazy crap all over Grand Rapids’ [Web]. MLive. Retrieved from


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