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Billboards paint Grand Rapids as art city

June 29, 2015
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Billboards paint Grand Rapids as art city
The "Art Outdoor" campaign features five billboards by local artists along Michigan highways to help promote Grand Rapids as an art town. Courtesy Experience Grand Rapids

Five local artists have been given the opportunity to celebrate Grand Rapids with billboards that will be featured along Michigan highways this summer.

Experience Grand Rapids, or EXGR, the area’s official destination marketing organization, announced today the first annual Art Outdoor Project in conjunction with its "Cool City. Hot Art." campaign, which works to promote Grand Rapids as an art destination.

My Grand Rapids artists

Local artists were invited to enter a My Grand Rapids design for the Art Outdoor Project. The entries were judged on originality, variety of scenes entered, use of contrasting colors and simplicity.

The five winning artists who will have their work featured on billboards along Michigan highways are Maggie Bandstra, Emily Chilvers, Alynn Guerra, Nick Nortier and Alex Gilford.

The selected art will be featured along highways in Michigan from June 29-Oct. 4, and the artists will each receive $500.

Art destination

Janet Korn, EXGR SVP, noted Grand Rapids is home to several art attractions, including Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and ArtPrize, as well as outdoor public art and many local galleries and artist studios.

“The billboards created by these local artists will help reinforce that Grand Rapids is a hotspot for art,” Korn said.

Korn said the Art Outdoor Project “underscores the fact that Grand Rapids is a culturally enriched area with much to offer art enthusiasts.”

Selection committee

Community members, selected by Richard App, owner of the Richard App Gallery in Grand Rapids, were in charge of making the final artist selections: Kevin Buist, director of exhibitions, ArtPrize; Cathy Marashi, exhibits coordinator, GVSU; Michele Bosak, curator, Kendall College of Art and Design; Miranda Krajniak, executive director, UICA; Ron Platt, chief curator, GRAM; and App.

“Rich App has played a vital role in this first year of the Art Outdoor Project,” Korn said. “His guidance throughout the planning process, assistance with the artists and the selection committee has been critical to the success of the project.”

Artist reception and merchandise

There will be an artist reception at Richard App Gallery on July 23, from 6-8 p.m., which will allow the community to meet the artists and view their original works.

Merchandise featuring the selected art will be sold at the reception and at GrandRapidsStore.com throughout the summer.

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