Members of the public will use mobile devices and the Web to choose the winner of the first ArtPrize, which offers a top prize of $250,000.
The annual event, announced Thursday, will be held Sept. 23 through Oct. 10 at perhaps hundreds of venues throughout a 3-square-mile area of downtown Grand Rapids. Organizers hope to receive thousands of entries vying for more than $400,000 in total prize money.
ArtPrize creator Rick DeVos said the competition will be open to any artist, professional or amateur, age 18 or over. There are no restrictions on the art itself.
“That’s completely open,” DeVos said. “It’s totally multiformat, multisensory, multidisciplinary, multimedia. We’re not try to prescribe a particular sort of style or message or anything like that. It’s really just about a creative expression.”
DeVos, 27, is the grandson of multibillionaire Rich DeVos, a co-founder of direct-sales giant Amway Corp., and son of Dick DeVos, a former Amway president who unsuccessfully ran for governor as the GOP candidate in 2006.
He said the prize money will be underwritten by the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation. Betsy DeVos, his mother, has twice served as chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party.
DeVos, who launched Spout.com, a social networking site for film buffs, said he believes that Grand Rapids, a city of 200,000 people with a vibrant arts scene, is ideally suited to host a major art competition.
“I’ve been to a lot of these events and have seen the energy that they create for the participants but also the vitality of the communities in which they are hosted, and have thought for a long time that Grand Rapids would be a fantastic spot to create kind of a new, international event, and thought we were really ready for that,” he said Wednesday in an interview.
The city has offered up parks and bridges as outdoor venues. Many businesses are expected to convert lobbies and public spaces for displays.
“ArtPrize will excite the world, and the world will look at our city differently because of it,” Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell said in a statement.
Besides the $250,000 first prize, $100,000 will be awarded for second place and $50,000 for third place.
Contest entries and voters must be registered at the ArtPrize Web site.
Voting begins Sept. 23. Winning entries will be announced Oct. 8.