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The pandemic isn’t over, but art fans are returning to Grand Rapids for ArtPrize 2021

"Homes" by Tom Gifford (James Herold/The Collegiate)

By James Herold

ArtPrize is back in Grand Rapids, and early indications are that local residents are enjoying the show. 

COVID-19 has changed the way people interact with one another: different venues such as the Devos Place required guests to wear masks, people were gathering downtown in a unifying way to view the art, excitement was in the air, and people were eager to talk about it. 

At Rosa Parks Circle in front of BIGGBY Coffee, Grand Rapids residents were checking out the entries near the coffee shop. Many were excited to be back at ArtPrize after COVID-19 put a pause on the event last year. 

Other residents were gathered around entries at Devos Place. An early fan-favorite is an entry known as “Unity”, an oil on canvas piece by Natalya Doudell depicting a diverse community full of athletes and other individuals of different race, religions, and viewpoints.

Ali Barto and Ava Ohlman, both 18 and from Grand Rapids, were looking at entries near Fountain Street Church, located across the street from GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus.

“Red Glasses” by Sam Noordhoff outside of the Grand Rapids Public Museum (James Herold/The Collegiate) James Herold

“I mean, I’m really excited and kind of nervous about being during a pandemic but it is outside,” said Barto when asked about concerns with the pandemic.

Ohlman added, “They have mask mandates that are making it better.”

Despite the barriers that have carried over from the pandemic into 2021, people are doing their best to enjoy coming back to ArtPrize once again. 

While many hope the pandemic will be a thing of the past by next year, local art lovers appear to be making the best of ArtPrize 2021 in a diverse, culture driven, and art-filled city.