ArtPrize Announces $20,000 in Grants for Artists

by Michael Anthony Farley on March 30, 2016 Opportunities

"Higher Ground" by Kate Gilmore, winner of last year's $200.000 juried grand prize.

“Higher Ground” by Kate Gilmore, winner of last year’s $200.000 juried grand prize.

ArtPrize, the Michigan-based public art competition, has announced a $20,000 fund to be distributed via “pitch nights” in four cities. Artists from those respective regions can attend these events in Durham, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, and Louisville and propose public artworks to a panel for the chance to secure $5,000 to realize their projects. The selected artists will then be given an exhibition opportunity during ArtPrize.

ArtPrize takes place every fall (this year, September 21 to October 9) inviting international artists to create challenging works for both indoor and outdoor venues across Grand Rapids. The public then votes on a grand prize winner who receives a whopping $200,000 as well as four $12,500 winners in different categories. At the same time, a jury comprising art professionals awards parallel prizes. It’s a pretty big deal – so we try to cover it as much as we can (Paddy goes roughly every other year.)

She’s noted that the work tends to be wildly uneven. It’s hard to not see the jury of art professionals as a strategy to balance-out the public’s penchant for kitschy or spectacle-driven projects. Perhaps a necessary mitigation of ArtPrize’s well-intentioned democratic ideals that don’t always end up rewarding the “best” artists? It’s a bit like the disagreements playing out between political party leaders and the electorate in the presidential primaries. It seems the pitch nights and their grants (which began in Minneapolis in 2013 and have since expanded to new cities) are one more tool to inject some professionally-vetted talent into the competition. That doesn’t necessarily mean art world insiders, though. The pitch nights are only open to residents of a handful of regions in the heartland—far from the art capitals on the coast. This seems like a great opportunity for juries to reward artists making interesting work that might fly under the national radar.

The first pitch night will take place May 25th in Durham, NC at 21c Museum Hotel. Paddy, Whitney, and I stayed there last year… and it’s pretty incredible. There, artists can propose projects for the seventh floor of a historic building at 200 Ottawa Street in downtown Grand Rapids. If you’d like to pitch a proposal, apply here by May 5th.

The next night, May 26th, artists can pitch their projects in Minneapolis at The Walker Art Center. The winning artist will share the 200 Ottawa Street space with the selected artist from North Carolina. That application is here and must also be complete by May 5th.

21c Museum Hotels will host the June 1st pitch night at their Louisville location. The selected artist will exhibit in Grand Rapids’ Lyon Square in the Fall. Artists must apply here by May 5th.

Finally, the Indianapolis Museum of Art will host a pitch night on June 30th to select an artist for the atrium of the Ledyard Building, located at 125 Ottawa, Grand Rapids. Applications must also required by May 5th.

For information about how to apply, or any questions, email

If you live in one of those four regions, we highly recommend taking advantage of these! Can someone please start one of these on the East Coast?

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