We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to gather more safely this fall, as vaccinations accelerate and we work closely with city, state, and health department officials to plan for the safest-possible environment for ArtPrize 2021. And we’re also remaining nimble as we plan — working through creative ways to hold a stellar event that’s as safe as possible for everyone. 

Because we know where there are obstacles, there are also opportunities to get creative, to reimagine, to try something new. 

In this spirit, below are a few ideas and considerations to keep in mind when planning your venue’s ArtPrize 2021 exhibition.

Think “Outside” for Your Exhibition

ArtPrize is only 18 days long. Dream big and think about how you could temporarily alter your interior and exterior spaces to create art experiences that are both safe for the public and push the boundaries of public art in Grand Rapids.

An exhibition that moves artwork off the walls and takes advantage of outdoor spaces can more easily be adapted to fit whatever safety recommendations are in place this fall. And we’re offering a series of Project Grants to help venues and artists execute their ambitious visions for public art this fall.

How could you work creatively with any of the following locations to display artwork?


"Enchanted Moments" by Taro Takizawa at ArtPrize 2018

A great option for making 2D and 3D artwork that needs to be indoors viewable from outside. How can you create a dynamic display? In some cases you could ask the artist to consider this as well when they consider the arrangement of their work. They will likely have ideas about how they want their work installed.

Building Facades

"Imagine That" by Tracy Van Duinen at ArtPrize 2009

A mural or mosaic can breathe new life into your building’s exterior, making it vivid and fascinating — bringing ideas, sparking conversations, attracting visitors, and making for Instagram-friendly selfie spots. Video projection is another great, though potentially expensive, way to activate the outside of your building.


"Red Ball Project" by Kurt Perschke at ArtPrize 2009

Host sculptures and installations. Schedule pop-up performances and buskers. Use bike racks or other traditional barriers as canvasses. Host sidewalk chalk competitions. The possibilities for activating your sidewalk space are endless.

Rooftops and Balconies

"Gravity Matters Little" by Henry Brimmer at ArtPrize 2013

Don’t have access to a green space, sidewalk, parking lot, alleyway or other ground-level outdoor space for your ArtPrize venue? Consider looking up. Rooftops and balconies are a great location for ambitious, large-scale installations and clever, thoughtfully-placed sculptures that can cause a buzz on the ground.


Sunshine Alley at Studio Park, designed by Lauren Koster and Marissa Fellows World of Winter

Even the unlikeliest of places have the potential for beauty and creativity. Alleyways are a “new frontier” for art and can be turned into outdoor galleries and public art destinations by artists or artist collaboratives activating the space through murals, installations, performances, theatre, social engagement and more.

Social Zones

"Tropical Realness" by Jeffrey Augustine Songco at the Monroe Center Social Zone

Are you part of a Social Zone? Consider how you could activate it by working with ArtPrize artists and other businesses that are part of the same Social Zone. What could you do to turn it into a must-see attraction, to encourage visitors to come experience both the artwork along with the outdoor dining, shopping and fun you have to offer?

Ceilings and Floors

"UnNatural History"  by Blane De St. Croix at ArtPrize 2012

Artwork that takes over ceilings or floors is unexpected. Give ArtPrize visitors to your space a novel experience, one that lets them see from a new perspective. Draw them away from the walls, away from the periphery and encourage them to move throughout your space in different patterns.


"The String Project" by Chelsea Nix and Mariano Cortez at ArtPrize 2018

Of course you can still host artwork on your walls! If you don’t have outdoor space to activate or want to work with artists whose work cannot withstand our erratic West Michigan weather, you’re more than welcome to create your exhibition on your walls.

Collaborate to Draw ArtPrize Visitors

Consider ways you could collaborate with other businesses near yours to create not-to-miss experiences that will draw in ArtPrize visitors. 

  • Create a “block party” with exclusive food, beer/wine, or music experiences.
  • Host a ticketed “art crawl” or punch card experience that offers featured perks at the participating establishments.
  • Offer enhanced visitor services – interested hotels could provide their own concierge type services to visitors who need recommendations on what to go and see

Register Your ArtPrize Venue

Creating an excellent ArtPrize 2021 experience begins with venue registration. You can register your space right here on the ArtPrize website from April 1-15. Register early (April 1-8) to take advantage of a 50% discount on your registration fee, thanks to community supporters.

As long-time ArtPrize contributor Richard App recently said, “our community knows how to work together and get the impossible done. Now let’s get to work”

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