Traffic, crowds and hype: ArtPrize doesn't curry favor with all

Some people really don't like ArtPrize

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. (WZZM) - As ArtPrize 2017 enters the homestretch, there are some people secretly smiling, eager to see it end.

The traffic, the congestion and the seemingly non-stop barrage of media attention is wearing thin. Some suggest the 19-day event lasts far too long.

Those are sentiments shared by a slice of the population in and around Grand Rapids, especially from those who work in the city.

“A lot of people are not paying attention; they’re walking through the cross walks and not paying attention to the traffic signals,’’ said PJ Bevelacqua of Wyoming, who works downtown. “And there’s no spots available in the parking ramp that you normally park in.’’

David Block of Rockford is a professional truck driver. He has a bird's-eye view of downtown traffic and inattentive pedestrians.

“They don’t pay attention; they’re looking at their maps,’’ Block said. “And it’s not just one guy. There will be a group of them.’’

Peter Woodhouse, who runs the GR Hopper shuttle service, said his drivers cringe when ArtPrize arrives.

“You remember when they came out with this Pokemon Go game?   And all these idiots just had their heads buried into their phones?  That’s about what it’s like,’’ Woodhouse said, describing legions of inattentive ArtPrize attendees wandering the streets.

Jennifer Chertos is among the estimated 500,000 or so people who will attend the ninth annual installment of ArtPrize.

“The first two years of ArtPrize I thought were the best and then it just kind of got really weird for me,’’ the Sparta woman said. “This year I went down and I was pleasantly surprised with a lot of the work I saw.’’

Getting to the displays on Tuesday, however, proved to be a challenge. “It was crazy,’’ Chertos said. “Downtown was completely bumper-to-bumper.’’

Reduced lanes, barricaded roads and closed sidewalks added to the frustration, she said.

“There were kids everywhere and a lot of them are not paying attention,’’ she said. “They’re in large groups and it only takes a split second for something really bad to happen.’’

Several people mentioned the seemingly non-stop media coverage.

“I think it’s covered in the news a little too much,’’ said a visitor from Canada. “People should just get out and take a look at it for themselves.’’

The clock is ticking. ArtPrize, which got underway on Sept. 20, draws to a close on Sunday, Oct. 8.

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