• Animalistic and Artistic

    artprizeblogpicIf you live in West Michigan, the cooler temperatures may bring pumpkin lattes and sweaters, but they also mean it’s time for another fall event: ArtPrize! For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Grand Rapids attraction, ArtPrize is an open, international artistic competition, and free for the public to attend. The public and juries vote on the best entries, and downtown Grand Rapids becomes home to sculptures, murals, cars, light shows, and many other forms of art for a few weeks. So as a GR resident, I thought I’d put a little spotlight on ArtPrize, and the pets it can include! Be sure to check out these works that feature our furry friends.

    Grand Rapids is a city that loves dogs, and many of the ArtPrize entries show it off. One of my personal favorites so far is “DogCity USA”, by Jennifer Waters. This is a collection of photographs that showcases Grand Rapids landmarks and locations with resident canines. The local pet photographer’s entry seeks to inspire the community to become a dog-friendly destination, and home to canine equality. Other artworks capture sincere emotion of the dog, like “Reflections” (Bonnie Kolarik) and “Minus 60 Celsius” (John P. Foley) which both feature huskies. Others are whimsical and have the adorable little companions that we love, like “Riley and Lizzie”, by Mary Jo Drueke, and Janet Hampton’s “Sitting Pretty Until…Squirrel!” Of course, we can’t forget the other pets we like! This year’s ArtPrize has many animals to feature, including horses in Jennifer VanderPloeg’s “Equine Personifed”, and even a rat in “Have You Seen My Cheese?” (Nikki Fatt-DeShetler). Whatever the creature you fancy, there’s sure to be an entry (or two) that showcase it.

    If you’re looking to support a cause with your ArtPrize vote, there’s plenty of options for that as well! The mixed media entry of “11,000” features thousands of colored cat faces, representing the amount of offspring that one intact female feral cat and her offspring produce over 5 years. Creating by Carol’s Ferals and their “AdvoCats”, the artwork seeks to promote awareness of controlling the feral cat population by TNR (trap, neuter, return) and adoption. Michael Johnson’s “Michigan Kids & Pets” is a collection of paintings that feature area children with Down’s Syndrome surrounded by their friends and pets. Johnson looks to empower the bond between children and animals, and donates his proceeds to equine therapy, canine cancer research and more. The sculpture “Golden Boy” (Kim Maguire-Gualtieri) is a dog with the body of a pit bull, but the head and face of a golden retriever, promoting awareness of breed injustice and the prejudices that dogs and their owners face.

    While there are many more animal art pieces to enjoy and causes to support, there are hundreds of other superb entries as well. With over 1,500 works, ArtPrize is not something that can be seen as a whole in one trip. For those of you thinking about bringing your dog along to enjoy the browsing, please be aware that many of the venues are not dog-friendly. While outdoor places like parks and the pedestrian bridges may not prohibitartprizeblogpic1 dogs, they can often be incredibly crowded, and sometimes home to art that has loud noises, scary lights, or strange sounds and materials. Grand Rapids requires dogs to be leashed at all times, and sometimes parking is quite far from the venues. ArtPrize is an event that many dogs would probably enjoy more from home, while you get time to observe the great works.

    Whether you’re checking out horse sculptures, supporting animal therapy, or just looking at cute puppy photos, ArtPrize has lots of pets and animals to showcase. So take a weekend (or two) and come out to Grand Rapids to enjoy ArtPrize 2014!

    For more information on ArtPrize, tips to attend, and to view artwork, visit

    Photos by Jennifer Waters/Grumpy Pups, and Carol’s Ferals.