City Manager Pat McGinnis used the big scissors to slash a blue ribbon to kick things off Wednesday evening on Grand Haven’s downtown waterfront.
While ArtWalk has been described as a “mini ArtPrize,” in the shadow of the month-long festival and competition in Grand Rapids, the comparison can’t be made next year when ArtPrize takes a year off and transitions to an every-other-year basis.
ArtWalk organizer Steve Loftis said the Grand Haven event will remain an annual affair.
“We think it’s going to help us, because people will be hungry for an art experience and we’re going to continue to offer that art experience,” he said.
ArtPrize was the original inspiration behind ArtWalk nine years ago, Loftis said, and has grown every year.
What began with less than 50 pieces the first year has grown to more than 140 on display this year at more than 60 locations, Loftis said, as artists are represented from not just West Michigan but from across the country.
“We saw a good idea and we said, ‘Let’s take advantage of the energy that’s been given to us in West Michigan,’” he added.
ArtWalk is meant to be a small-scale, casual alternative, Loftis said, with all skill levels and ages welcome to enter their creations.
“Our whole approach has been art for art’s sake,” he said, “so it’s a more simple, walkable experience.”
Visual arts on display in downtown businesses include drawings, paintings, photography and sculptures. Specialty media, including fiber arts such as weavings, is a new category this year.
Grand Haven Main Street Director Diane Sheridan said the growth of ArtWalk has allowed for new mediums to join in, including a dance flash mob following the ribbon cutting, and a Manhattan Short Film Festival project at Loutit District Library.
“We’re introducing that next generation of artist to the idea that art isn’t just a painting on a wall but it’s also expression through movement and music,” she said.
Visitors to ArtWalk can explore galleries marked by cones outside of downtown businesses and vote for their favorite in each category. Winners will receive cash prizes.
Voting ends at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3. The awards ceremony is at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, at the Grand Haven Community Center.
Public voting for the ArtWalk Youth Competition at Loutit District Library began last week and continues until noon Monday, Oct. 1. The award ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. Oct. 2.
Visit ghartwalk.com for a full schedule.