With the Grand Rapids Art Prize voting finally totaled last night, we know that most of 1262 entries didn’t win, any money, that is.  The Top Ten will now compete for:

  • 1st Place – $250K
  • 2nd Place – $100K
  • 3rd Place  – $ 50K
  • 4th-10th -   $  7K


Not exactly small change when it comes to art.  I imagine most of us don’t have anything close to a $7000 piece of artwork in our homes.

The Top Ten Entries are all worthy and I will have to check them all out before I cast my final vote for the winner.  I really enjoyed the thumbs up, thumbs down voting for all the artists.  It was really great to be included in something this big and this important to our community.


But I digress, I want to talk about one of the Art Prize entries that didn’t win:

The Red Ball Project:Grand Rapids.  We have friends in Heritage Hill who have served as hosts for 2 artists in this event. They provide housing and a home base while the artist puts up, installs, paints, or whatever they have to do to enter their art work.  We were fortunate enough to meet the young artist of the Red Ball Project, Kurt Perschke and his wife Kate, while we were touring Art Prize.

This Art Prize entry is a large (15 ft diameter) red inflatable ball that is placed in strategic and well known places to tickle the senses and make you look again. Did I just see a large red ball there?  Kids  love to punch it and jump into it…..have fun with it.  The Red Ball has been all over the world since 2001, Sydney Australia, Portland OR, Chicago IL, Korea, Rome Italy and Barcelona Spain, just to name a few of the spots it has visited.

GR  Kids meet Red Ball


Red Ball installed


 Will Red Ball move?

MM Kurt Perschke Red Ball Project


Kurt and Kate are newlyweds and they are experiencing the Grand Rapids  Art Prize together.  They have been in Grand Rapids for at least 12 days and yet I doubt they have had time to see much beyond the venues of their Red Ball placement in major downtown venues.

They noted that the citizens of Grand Rapids seemed to take their voting responsibilities quite seriously, carrying notebooks and colored markers to note their reactions to different Art Prize entries.

So even though Red Ball didn’t win the art prize Grand Rapids was a winner. We got exposure to art work that never would have found our city without sponsors or a paid venue.  So, thanks Kurt and Kate. It was a fun experience for all of us in Grand Rapids!


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