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3-2-1: Engage, swag and vote

With just 19 days, it can often feel like there is too much to see and so little time. Experienced Wayfinder Erica Curry Van Ee boils down all the information she has learned in hopes of helping other attendees.
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The author at her post as a Wayfinder

The author at her post as a Wayfinder /courtesy of Erica Curry Van Ee

ArtPrize is underway, and my experience as a Wayfinder has given me a chance to learn a lot about the event. I've been helping people find their way and answering questions, so here are some highlights to help you get the most out of your experience, just in case you can't find me on the corner.

This weekend will be the make or break moment for 1582 hopeful artists. Voters have until 11:59 p.m. next Wednesday to vote for any artist in any location. On Thursday, September 29, the Top 10 will be announced. So with no time to spare, here are three tips to help you navigate your way and get the most out of the rest of your “week one” experience. 

  1. Exercise your vote: This is the driving success measure of ArtPrize. Why? Because the ultimate goal is to empower community to use your voice, make your choice, and cast your vote. To participate in voting, you have to register (which can be done online) and activate (which can be done in person at any of the nine Exhibition Centers). Check ArtPrize to get details on voting and a list of the venues. You can vote online, by text (they worked out the kinks that limited the availability of this feature to certain carriers last year). The ArtPrize team even has a solution in case you lead a more simplistic life absent of smartphone and home computers: they formed a partnership with Comcast this year for a mobile voting station right in front of Rosa Parks Circle, where you can vote while you are downtown. There are a couple of other important details on voting. ArtPrize uses the vote to narrow down the competition, and there are no limits to the number of votes you can cast in the first week, so whether you vote a piece up or down, the key is to vote early and often. The second week, the field narrows, community votes for artists in the top 10, and the person with the most votes wins. On the ArtPrize home page, you will see the art is being organizing around “Top 25 by Neighborhood.” This is a promising change that will give hope to the art and artists off the beaten path (those who are not in an exhibition center or the parking lot of the BOB). You never know, one of these masterpieces may just make it to number one…but not unless you vote!
  2. Get Your Swag On: The ArtPrize team knows a thing or two about quality fashion merchandising, thanks to their rockstar leadership team, including David Abbott, formerly of A.K. Rikks. They know their audience, and more importantly they know their climate. They have thought of every weather pattern an ArtPrize connoisseur may encounter, and they have kept the prices low. There is swag available for the whole family-even the dog-that you can wear winter, spring, summer and fall. Along with attire, there are other items such as blankets, frisbees and yo-yo’s. There are a few items that are worth mentioning further:
    1. Guidebook, Map and Metro Pass:These are sold individually or as a set, and actually I put these in the category of survival instead swag. If you are a volunteer for ArtPrize you automatically get these for free, so think about that for next year. The guidebook includes a calendar, listing of art and artists, as well as many pages of coupons, including 25% off any item at The Hub. 
    2. Second Chances Project: ArtPrize has created a partnership with Goodwill this year. The project uses shirts from Goodwill, embroiders the ArtPrizw logo on them, and sells them for $20.00, with the proceeds being split between the two nonprofit organizations. Each repurposed shirt is a one of a kind, and there are only a couple hundred made, so staff are predicting that they will go quick. Second Chances shirts can be purchased at both get The Hub and Goodwill’s South Division location. If you are one of the first 300 to buy ArtPrize merchandise at The Hub, they’ll throw in a pair of ArtPrize embroidered tube socks.
    3. Candy: ArtPrize teamed up with Mary Anns Chocolate to create a series of MAC Bars that reflect the history, tradition and culture of each neighborhood in the ArtPrize district. They can be purchased individually or as a box set. Flavors are designed to reflect the neighborhood they represent, such as the Westside, which is a dark chocolate bar flavored with chipotle and lime. Sweet and spicy flavors are combined to describe the Westside community.
    4. Reflect: Purchasing an ArtPrize journal is another way to add to your experience, providing a place to write about all the experiences you will have viewing the art and getting involved in the events. 
  3. Engage: There are so many more ways to engage this year. Whether you are attending one of the many events where you can meet the artists, listening to artist-rendered audio recordings of their work statement while viewing their art, co-creating with the artist, participating in neighborhood Go Nights and Neighborhood Days, or engaging in deeper conversations and commitments to the causes behind the cause-related installations, ArtPrize has a long list of opportunities to ignite your passion and engage your spirit. If participation is your thing, here are a couple of highly interactive experiential events you may want to consider for each of ArtPrize’s weekends. This Sunday at 6 p.m. at UICA, their Soap Box Series not only gives artists a chance to stand on the soap box to garner votes, but invites the public to get up on the soap box and voice their own opinions as well. Next week, Mp3 Experiment Grand Rapids, orchestrated by New York City’s Improv Everywhere, will happen on October 1 between 5:30-6:30 p.m. The event's location is yet to be determined. On Sunday October 2, between 12-5 p.m., bring the kids down to Veterans Park for Kids ArtFest, a collaboration with Grand Rapids Children Museum and Square Peg Events. For the die-hard urban adventurer, get your team organized and signed up for The Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race: ArtPrize Edition on Saturday, October 9 from 8:30-3 p.m. 

With just 19 days, it can often feel like there is too much to see, experience and taste, and so little time. Where to start? Making the most of your ArtPrize is as easy as 1-2-3:  Vote. Swag. Engage. 


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Unlike last years Rapidian coverage of ArtPrize which included many critical idea centered articles this years coverage so far seems almost as much of a free ArtPrize publicity campaign as MLive’s coverage. The only difference being that Jeff Kaczmarczyk just plagiarizes the ArtPrize playbook and The Rapidian reporters seem to at least try to add some of their own copy.


According to Erica Curry VanEe to get the most out of ArtPrize the number one thing a art viewer needs to do is vote? Why? Why has the aesthetic experience been reduced completely to an American Idol vote?  Has everyone in Grand Rapids drank the Rick Devos Kool-aid? 


Artists have driven and flown from where ever to show you the best they have to offer and the most important goal of ArtPrize,you say,   is “to empower community to use your voice, make your choice, and cast your vote”. 


Please tell me this isn’t what you meant to say. Please tell me you meant to say that the most important goal is to  take advantage of the experience of seeing so much art .  Please tell me it’s not really that important to buy t-shirts for your dog with ArtPrize written on it and that you need another  $395 ArtPrize jacket like you need a hole in the head. Please tell me you would like to “engage” with more quality art and less crap pretending to be art. Please tell me you meant to say that the experience of art doesn’t involve candy or having to buy a guide book and a separate map and then on top of that an ArtPrize journal. Please tell me you don’t really think that everything in ArtPrize should be or needs to be “cause-related” or “co-created” and that you really didn’t even know what those words meant when you wrote them. I’d feel so much better if you did.

With all due respect Erica, this sounds like a paid advertisement brought to you by artprize.

I do appreciate that the Rapidian has created this forum to post opinions about artprize because I cannot even look at the mlive coverage due to the crazy anonymous comments.

Erica I commend you for taking the time to craft an article.