Art Prize 2013 – My Thoughts
Art Prize 2013 is in full swing. The crowds have gathered, the votes are cast…..the streets are filled with people looking to see some art, be a part of the scene and maybe grab a hotdog from a street cart…or have a sit down at a local brew pub. Dogs are on leashes, areas seldom traveled in the city are seeing monumental masses all exploring to find the one thing that means the most to them, be it abstract or obvious.
But to me, Art Prize has taken on a new look this year.
Living in Muskegon, I of course have been to Art Prize every year to have a gander at what everyone is talking about. Spending a few hours at a time in town to maybe catch a glimpse of what I saw on the news….have a nice big cigar while walking around, greet a few friends and fans. All pretty typical I would say. But this year, now that I am working back in Grand Rapids things have taken a turn for me.
This year, at Art Prize….I am seeing an emergence of a city. People who would probably never even think about going to an art show, or maybe perish at the thought of going in to the “big city” are showing up. They are looking at things in a different light as if to say “I dunno…but I am willing to try”. They are looking at art which is subjective to say the very least. They are looking with a cautious eye but receptive to seeing something that might make them think, …..it may challenge the West Michigan “mindset”, if there is one, and slowly but surely….Grand Rapids is growing into the “Big City” and becoming the jewel of the State of Michigan.
Sure, we don’t have an NFL team…and as far as baseball goes, we are more than happy with the West Michigan Whitecaps thank you very much. The city is not filled with casinos or strip joints, and I gotta be honest with ya….Grand Rapids has matured into a really great hockey town…something I never thought I would see.
Grand Rapids has taken about a 20 year path to become what it is today. When I first worked downtown, the vital signs of the city were barely beating. The addition of the arena was first…followed by the development of “medical mile” and the addition of young, vibrant and intelligent people to the area to learn, and once they see what Grand Rapids has to offer….they stay. All with some help of some very generous community leaders that gave back what they had been given.
Art Prize has turned into way more than an art competition. It has become a catalyst to help bring this area from a sleepy little place to raise a nice family, to a forward thinking….ready for a challenge.. emerging destination for sustainability, both in family and business and it’s all happened by taking those 20 years to make sure that even with change, the core values of Grand Rapids have stayed intact.
It’s been an amazing thing to watch unfold, an even more amazing thing to be a part of and a great sense of pride to walk around the streets…..day or night and realize that the once abandon streets of Grand Rapids are now set to maintain the next generations to come.