By Jodie Jacobs.
You won’t have to check any online leaf readiness sites to see fall color in Grand Rapids, MI. Blazing reds, sun-set golds and sun-rise pinks will seem to be saying “look at me” and “take a selfie” from Sept. 21 through Oct. 9, 2016. You also don’t have to worry if it rains or is cloudy to take a photo-album perfect picture.
Eye-catching colors and even fascinating blacks and whites will be found as paintings, sculptures and photo installations inside restaurants, brew-pubs, hotels, banks, museums, on bridges, at parks and even in such unlikely spots as health centers. They are part of ArtPrize® a half-million dollar international competition where the you can vote for the winners.
A summer travel destination for its fabulous Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park and the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids has become a popular fall destination since ArtPrize® began in 2009. https://www.artprize.org/about
Exploring the Downtown
The art phenomenon is a great way to see the city’s art galleries, museums and Grand River. The fun part is that while following maps to ArtPrize® venues (more than 170) visitors chat with each other about art, about what they’ve seen, where they’ve gone and where to go to next. “It’s just so exciting to see so many people excited about art,” said artist Colleen Wegener. Her gorgeous “Michigan Shores piece was in the DeVos Place Convention Center in 2015.
Five Pathway maps give visitors a choice of how many miles they want to walk that ranges from Access Art’s 1.2 miles by the ArtPrize Hub, Grand Rapids Art Museum and Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts to Monroe North Westside’s 2.4 miles along the Grand River. In between are Hillside’s 1.8 miles of a historic and architecturally interesting neighborhood of the Park Congregational Church, St. Celia’s Music Center and the Women’s City Club. There is also the Heartside’s 2.1 miles on the Avenue for the Arts past studios and galleries, and the Center City’s 2.2 miles past shops, restaurants, museums and the Grand River.
Famed Gardens, Sculptures and Presidential Museum
While in Grand Rapids definitely head east of the downtown to the Meijer Gardens. There will be more ArtPrize® entries here but the reason to go is to stroll among works by Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Jean Arp, Claes Oldenburg and other well-known sculptors. The art collection at Meijer’s is considered to make up one of the top 100 museums in the world. Also go to see the very creative Children’s Garden and relax in the peaceful, new Japanese Garden. http://www.meijergardens.org/
Plan enough time to visit the newly renovated Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Closed several months for a multi-million dollar redo, the museum honoring the United State’s 38th President, reopened June 7, 2016 with extensive interactive stations and more highlights of his life. https://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/visit-museum.aspx
Stay and Dine
Amway Grand Plaza on Monroe, a historic hotel rated Triple A and Four Diamond is downtown is close to most ArtPrize venues and is a venue, itself. It’s large but people and service is friendly. http://amwaygrand.com/Nosh or do lunch at The Market, downtown GR at Ionia Avenue and Logan Street. It’s a fun place to sample foods and browse. Or stop at The Cottage Bar and Restaurant on LaGrave Avenue near Fulton Street. Known for chili and burgers, it’s among GR’s oldest restaurants. Another fun place is Rockwell Republic , on Division Avenue. Go for great cocktails, sushi, sweet potato tempura, burgers and steaks. For artistic, delicious food try Reserve Wine and Food on Monroe. http://www.experiencegr.com/restaurants/