If you are planning on visiting ArtPrize, here are some tips we gathered from our trip ...
ArtPrize 2012 has 1517 entries, 161 venues, and $560,000 in total prizes. It is a big event and a lot of people will suggest that you make your trip at least 5 days long so you can cover as many of the venues as possible. But in our experience, 2 afternoons were plenty.
If you live within driving distance of Grand Rapids, Michigan, drive! Make it a road trip and enjoy the fall foliage on your way there! You'd be happy to know that city is equipped with plenty of parking spaces with very reasonable daily rates. We parked downtown for $9/day. What this means, is you can feel comfortable with staying at a hotel further away from the ArtPrize venues. We stayed in Wyoming, MI, approximately 15 minutes away.
Avoid visiting ArtPrize on the weekends. The weekday crowd was large enough. We didn't have problems getting into the Grand Rapids Art Museum or any of the larger venues, but we did have to contend with children on school excursions. On a similar note, indoor venues open from noon to 8pm. If you can, visit those early so you can avoid the after-work crowd. Don't miss the UICA, High Five @ Riverfront Plaza, and the Federal Square Building.
Some of the best works are outdoors, so put on your comfy shoes and be ready to walk! You can choose a 3, 6, or 9 mile route that will take you around the three square miles of art. We tried doing the 6 mile route our first day there, but we quickly got off track and just ended up wandering around. This is to say, just focus on having fun; you don't have to worry about getting lost! If you are not up for walking, you can always take unlimited rides on the ArtBus and/or the Rapid that will take you to the different ArtPrize venues. It cost just $5 for two to ride. You can also get to the Frederik Meijer Gardens on the ArtBus Meijer Gardens Shuttle.
If you're interested in seeing artwork in restaurants, go during off peak hours so you can better access those pieces. We found that several of the smaller locations feature local artists and mostly 2-D work (good and bad). Treat it like a tapas menu, eat an appetizer, grab a drink, and move on to the next location!
If you have extra time, pay the admission fee when you are at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park and go enjoy the awesome space. We wish we got to do that, and I'm sure we will fit it in our plans next time!