Wednesday, 29 August 2018 16:25

10 Years, New Frontiers: How ArtPrize is evolving a West Michigan tradition

Written by  Michaela Stock
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ArtPrize is celebrating its 10th birthday by collecting stories from its past and planning changes for its future. Kevin Buist, ArtPrize’s artistic director, talked with Revue about what we can expect for this year’s festival as well as what’s new for ArtPrize, such as the fest’s bi-annual switch and the new Project 1.

What’s new for ArtPrize this year? 

What's new this year, and what's new every year, of course, is all of the artwork that's coming. There's a lot of amazing stuff in venues all over downtown, as well as outdoors in parks, and the river and all sorts of stuff.

Are there any festival changes?

We're taking a new approach to Rosa Parks Circle this year, and we're calling it the Visitor Pavilion. Rosa Parks Circle will be covered by this really cool giant tent and will be protected from rain and hot sun, if we have that. There will be a ton of programing happening on the Rosa Parks Circle stage all throughout the 19 days of ArtPrize. 

What kind of programing?

We're doing a lot of our major events there, like the Jury Shortlist event, where the category jurors reveal and discuss their picks, as well as other panel discussions, lectures and things like that. It will all culminate on October 5, the final Friday of the event, with the ArtPrize Awards, which will happen on the Rosa Parks Circle stage underneath that tent. 

 It will also have a couple of shipping containers that will be activated in various ways, including hands-on education programing and visitor services. Information, maps and figuring out how to register to vote — all sorts of stuff will be right there.

How have you been preparing for ArtPrize’s 10-year anniversary?

Throughout the summer, as a way of celebrating the 10-year anniversary, we’ve been doing something we're calling a stories campaign, and there's a dedicated website to that, which is We're going to keep that going now and through the event. The website is set up to collect and share different people’s stories about ArtPrize. There are featured stories by artists, venues, volunteers, people who host artists from out of town and all sorts of people who have participated in ArtPrize in one way or another.

What’s happening to celebrate the milestone at the fest?

There's a lot going on. A lot of past winners, both jury grand-prize winners and public vote grand-prize winners, are returning in various capacities. Ran Ortner, who is the public vote winner from the very first ArtPrize, is returning this year to be a part of our jury committee, which is a committee of three art experts who select the winner of the jury grand prize. He'll also be giving a lecture about his work and what's been happening in the last decade since his big win at ArtPrize in 2009.

Why the switch to bi-annual hosting for ArtPrize?                 

We're switching to a bi-annual format to make way for this new format of exhibition that we're going to be working on, and the first iteration of that in 2019 is called Project 1. We'll be doing a large, temporary public art commission in between each bi-annual ArtPrize. On even years, there will be an ArtPrize competition, and on odd years there will be the next iteration of this Project series.

What should we expect for Project 1?

The idea with Project 1 is to alternate the competition model with a commission model. What that means is, we're taking around the same amount of resources that we give away in artists prizes on a normal competition year and instead repurposing that into commissions that we can give to a very small group of artists — artists who are operating at a really high level, of international acclaim, who are doing really phenomenal work. We can invest in that and start working with them on a longer time scale, and bring them into dialogue with the community in new ways that the ArtPrize format doesn't allow.

 We're super excited about it. Project 1 is giving us a chance to really dream big.

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