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The history of ArtPrize | Where it started, and where it's going

As Grand Rapids' biggest art festival begins a new chapter as ArtPrize 2.0, 13 ON YOUR SIDE takes a look back at where it began and looks where it may be going.

Steven Bohner, 13 ON YOUR SIDE Staff


Published: 8:24 AM EDT September 15, 2023
Updated: 9:20 AM EDT September 18, 2023

Born through the imagination of a Grand Rapids entrepreneur, ArtPrize has become a fixture in the city as the seasons shift from summer to fall.

Rick DeVos, son of former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and grandson of Amway founder Richard M. DeVos, launched the art competition in 2009 as a “social experiment to rally a city around visual art.”

One of the draws of ArtPrize was its competition structure, which put the artists at the mercy of the public to determine which piece would win the grand prize—$250,000 for the entry with the most votes.

The leadup to the festival's debut was met by many critics claiming that the public wasn't capable of choosing a deserving winner. But as the launch of the first competition approached, West Michigan was filled with anticipation for what was being touted as "the largest art competition in the world."

Credit: ArtPrize / 13 ON YOUR SIDE

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