The “Art Prize” of Life
During the month of September Grand Rapids, MI holds an extraordinary event entitled “Art Prize”. Art Prize since its inception in 2009 has welcomed artists and art lovers to this competition. Over $500,000 is awarded based on public and jury votes. Artists from around the world enter their art for a chance to not only win the prize/s but also to participate in this new paradigm. Visitors come from across the country and perhaps the world imbibing the art, the atmosphere of creativity and the communal experience that is Art Prize. Art Prize has a life force that is unique and vibrant, much like art and life itself.
Art Prize is an experience. Art Prize can be viewed for a few hours or over the span of many days. It is your choice. You can take in a little art or a lot of art. You can visit familiar venues or venture into unknown territory within downtown and beyond. There is traditional art, contemporary art and art perhaps not typically classified as art. The viewer at Art Prize as in life holds the key to the interpretation.
For me personally, I attend Art Prize three or four times. Usually with my family which includes two young girls. Viewing Art Prize from a child’s perspective opens my eyes to new possibilities. What my child loves at Art Prize or does not notice often differs from my opinion. My youngest daughter’s favorite task is to collect all the voter cards, as each artist has a number to vote for and a picture of their work. Her hope is in creating next year’s Art Prize entry with the collection of cards arranged on a large piece of paper. Approaching Art Prize and life with an open heart and an open mind will offer a child-like attitude to an often times routine encounter.
On quieter Art Prize days, usually during the week, I visit Art Prize with my mother for a few hours. We tend to stay in the familiar areas and visit the common sites. This is a relief at times to be in this comfortable space. This experience is different than chasing my daughter around in crowds trying not to lose her while quickly glancing at the art. On a beautiful fall day, under the sunshine and cool temperature we casually meander through the town and the art among all the people enjoying the same, yet different experience.
Art Prize, in my opinion is a beautiful representation of life itself. Art Prize is a metaphor for the “art of life”. In the setting of a thriving vibrant downtown area, bringing together people from all countries, states, towns and walks of life to enjoy an experience that is uniquely their own. We all walk a different path through our “art prize of life”. We all look at the art or life differently with our own unique perspective. We engage as much or as little as we choose. Yet, in this life we come together as a society to support, uplift and create. Art Prize wouldn’t be the same if neither artist or art enthusiast participated. What makes it special is that as a group we embrace the concept, the art, and the community thus creating our own “art prize of life”.
Love, "with a heart of peace",
Susan J. McFarland