ArtPrize is an international art competition entered by hundreds of artists from around the world each year. Launched in 2009, ArtPrize was recognized as the world’s most public art event just five years later. In 2023, more than 700,000 visitors came to downtown Grand Rapids to view all kinds of art, engage with artists and fellow art-lovers, and vote for their favorite works to win cash prizes. 

Most pieces created for ArtPrize are installed for the duration of the competition (Sept. 13-28 in 2024) and then reclaimed by the artists. However, an increasing number of large-scale pieces remain as permanent installations or part of permanent collections in the Grand Rapids area.

Here are just a few of the ArtPrize pieces that were “left behind” to engage end delight visitors.

ArtPrize 2023 - Raining Wisdom by Abdoulaye Conde (elephant mural). Photography by Nick Irwin.

Raining Wisdom is a vibrant mural that won the first place award during the 2023 ArtPrize competition.

Photo by Nick Irwin for Experience GR. Artwork: Raining Wisdom by Abdoulaye Conde

Raining Wisdom

Abdoulaye Conde, a native of Guinea, Africa, won first place (and $125,000) in the 2023 ArtPrize public vote for this vibrant mural. It depicts the noteworthy contributions elephants make to their families, groups and habitats as an inspiration to humans to demonstrate love and acceptance for each other, and celebrate in the wealth of wisdom shared by us all.

Raining Wisdom is located at 45 Ottawa Ave. NW (corner of Ottawa/Louis across from Rosa Parks Circle).

The G-Rap Map, a map of Grand Rapids, on the exterior of the Apartment Lounge

The G-Rap Map is a graphic representation of Grand Rapids.

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience GR. Artwork: The G-Rap Map by Justin Smith

The G-Rap Map

At first glance, this large mural appears to be some sort of maze, but draw closer and you’ll see that it’s a graphic representation of the very city in which you stand. Artist Justin Smith created the piece for ArtPrize 2013, using a stencil process and the same white paint that’s used for sidewalk crossings. Look closely to see some “hidden” goodies, like a bear face on John Ball Zoo.

See The G-Rap Map on the exterior of The Apartment Lounge, Michigan’s longest-running gay bar, at 33 Sheldon Ave. NE.

Sing With Me

Ohio’s Britney Gerathy painted this colorful mural, situated adjacent to The G-Rap Map, for ArtPrize 2016. It’s part of a series of works that the artist says, “became my way of controlling and cleaning up the mess before me … my strive for perfection and positivity in a world that demands the former.”

Imagine That!

Tracy Van Duinen, Corey Van Duinen and Todd Osborne placed second in the very first ArtPrize (2009) with this mosaic-tile mural on the wall of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. The artists employed bricolage mosaic – a style involving broken or salvaged materials like shards of ceramic tiles and mirrors – to create this colorful piece, which has delighted Museum visitors since its installation. Imagine That! Is just a few dozen feet from Sing With Me on Sheldon Ave.

MetaPhorest

Across Fulton St. from the Children’s Museum and a few hundred feet east is another ArtPrize entry from Tracy Van Duinen and Todd Osborne, this one a collaboration with Phil Schuster, Andy Bellomo and 15 student apprentices from West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT). MetaPhorest is another mixed-media mosaic mural and second-place ArtPrize winner (2011). The piece covers 2,400 sq. ft of wall space on the building at 98 Fulton St E. 

Aztlan Mural by Arturo Morales Romero

Aztlan depicts Central American cultures, and can be found on the exterior of MeXo.

Photo by Nick Irwin for Experience GR. Artwork: Aztlan by Arturo Morales Romero

Aztlan

Situated directly across from MetaPhorest is a 15x92-foot mural created by West Michigan artist Arturo Morales Romero. The artist says Aztlan means “people from the town of dreams” and the work is meant as a timeline representing Central American cultures from the Mayans and Aztecs to the present day. The mural was painted on an exterior wall of MeXo Tequila & Mezcal Bar & Restaurant for ArtPrize 2021. MeXo is located at 118 Fulton St. E.

Timeless

Nashville-based artist Andee Rudloff painted this vibrant mural on the exterior walls of The Cottage Bar & Restaurant as part of ArtPrize 2016. She organized and facilitated painting sessions for community members to participate in the mural’s creation. The Cottage Bar is at 18 LaGrave Ave. SE.

ArtPrize artwork Seeking a Pleasant Peninsula mural

This popular mural features imagery of Michigan's wildlife, and can be found on the exterior wall of downtown's Le Macaron.

Photo by Nick Irwin for Experience GR. Artwork: Seeking a Pleasant Peninsula by Maddison Chaffer

Seeking a Pleasant Peninsula

ArtPrize awards are determined by both public voting and a juried award process. This giant mural was the juried winner of the Installation category in ArtPrize 2022. Local artist Maddison Chaffer presents images of Michigan’s ecology, including fish, plant life and geographic landmarks. It is on the east side of the building housing Le Macaron (132 Monroe Center St. NW), across from Rosa Parks Circle and the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

The 7 Chief Clans of the Anishinabe statue on GVSU's downtown campus in Grand Rapids, MI

This limestone piece depicts the seven clans of the Anishinaabe, the original settlers of the Grand Rapids area.

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience GR. Artwork: Clans of the Anishinaabek by Jason Quigno

Clans of the Anishinaabek

Stone sculptor Jason Quigno, a member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, carved this limestone piece for ArtPrize 2011. It depicts the seven clans of the Anishinaabek:  Crane, Loon, Bear, Turtle, Martin, Fish and Bird. The name Anishinaabe means “The Original People” and refers to the Odawa, Ojibwe (Chippewa) and Potawotami  tribes that originally settled the Grand Rapids area.

The sculpture stands nearly 10-feet tall and stands outside the Seidman College of Business (50 Front Ave. SW) on the downtown campus of Grand Valley State University.

Bird of Prey, a statue of an eagle made from recycled materials in Grand Rapids, MI

Caledonia's Harder & Warner is home to a variety of past ArtPrize entries, including Bird of Prey, which features recycled scrap materials.

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience GR. Artwork: Bird of Prey by Tom Sheerin

Bird of Prey

Not all ArtPrize pieces have remained in their original locations. Artist Tom Sheerin’s 14x6x7-foot Bird of Prey was installed outside downtown GR’s The B.OB. for ArtPrize 2013, but was then acquired by Harder & Warner Landscaping and Boutique Gardens in Caledonia, about 30 minutes southeast of the city. Sheerin crafted this bald eagle entirely out of discarded materials from scrap yards and junk piles to draw attention to the abundance of accumulated objects in landfills. 

You’ll see four other ArtPrize entrants as you wander the grounds of Harder & Warner: The Queen’s Silver Steed, by Douglas Gruizenga (ArtPrize 2014), Steam Baby, by Anthony Jackson (ArtPrize 2013), I Used to Be an Octopus, by Lou Rodriguez, (ArtPrize 2015), and Elephant Walk, by Frederick Prescott (ArtPrize 2010, 10th place winner), as well as a kinetic giraffe sculpture also by Frederick Prescott.

Calvary – American Officers, 1921

This gorgeously detailed pencil sketch of military men won first prize in ArtPrize 2010. Artist Chris LaPorte took more than 800 hours to complete the 28x9-foot drawing, which is based on a photograph he saw in a Grand Rapids antique shop. LaPorte is an Associate Professor of Art at Aquinas College, which acquired the piece as part of a long-term loan and now displays it in the lobby of its Jarecki Lacks Hauenstein (JLH) building, just outside of the Grace Hauenstein Library.

Located about 2.5 miles east of downtown GR, The library and building are generally open to the public Monday - Friday from 10am-2pm during the academic school year. Hours are posted on the front doors and change during holidays and breaks, including the summer.