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Some like outlying ArtPrize sites | News

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Some like outlying ArtPrize sites
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Not all of the more than 1,500 artworks and 161 venues taking part in ArtPrize are in the central area of downtown Grand Rapids -- and that's just how some artists and business owners like it.

Most of the entries in ArtPrize are in five Grand Rapids neighborhoods, but some of the artists' works are on the fringe of those areas -- including the creation of Mary Kuchta.

"I don't want to say the best art -- but a lot of the great art is, you know, off the beaten path," says Kuchta.

Kuchta's artwork is on display at Baker Tent Rental near Belknap Park in Northeast Grand Rapids.  It's on the fringe of the three square mile ArtPrize exhibition area -- which means many voters may not travel out to see it.

"To me, that doesn't matter," she says. "I'm not in it to win it. I'm in it for exposure, experience. Hopefully other artists in outlying venues feel the same."

Many ArtPrize competitors are at outlying venues like Baker Tent Rental -- or Arnie's Restaurant on Leonard St. NW -- by choice.

"They have to choose us as a venue, so we offer it as a venue," says Erik Fahlen of Arnie's.

Other artists are on the outskirts of the exhibition area because of a lack of choice.

"A lot of people don't have a chance to get into the larger venues downtown," says Kuchta. "They fill up really fast."

The outlying venues are happy to have the art -- and glad to welcome the artists and potential new customers coming to see the pieces.

"I can go see an ArtPrize venue with six different artists showing their stuff, then we can get ice cream dessert or dinner," says Fahlen.

"People who don't realize we are here come to see art," says Mickie Campbell of Baker Tent Rental. "They come back. We have new customers."

The artists at these venues get to be part of the conversation.  Thousands of people may see their work, and some may buy the entries.

"The voters need to realize the same thing I have -- that a lot of the great art is on the outlying venues," says Kuchta.

Artists and venues are increasingly using Facebook and Twitter to connect with the ArtPrize audience to attract them to outlying areas.

This year while most of the $560,000 in prizes are awarded based on the vote of the people, a jury of experts will choose the winners of $200,000.  Any art at any venue has the chance to win those jury prizes.

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