ArtPrize at GVSU

ArtPrize® is an open, independently organized international art competition which takes place in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It celebrates artists working in all mediums from anywhere in the world, and is open to any creative with an artwork to enter and a venue willing to host it. 

For 18 days, art is exhibited throughout the city in public parks and museums, in galleries and vacant storefronts, in bars and on bridges. ArtPrize awards $450,000 directly to artists, through grants to support their ambitious work and through prizes which the public decides through the ArtPrize website.

Since its inception in 2009, millions have participated in ArtPrize, displaying their work, opening their spaces to artists and visitors from around the world, and sparking countless conversations about what art is and why it matters.

Grand Valley State University has been active in ArtPrize since the festival's inception, as an ArtPrize sponsor, venue, and programming partner. The University's participation has evolved, changing in step with the competition. Read on to learn more about ArtPrize 2023 at GVSU.

GVSU has actively collected works of art for its permanent collection from past ArtPrize years. These pieces are on display across the Allendale and Grand Rapids campuses


ArtPrize Ten Venue Icon

ArtPrize 2023

This year we will be hosting local artist J Brett Grill and his piece Mathias J. Alten. This work is larger than a life-size bronze sculpture of regional artist Mathias J. Alten. The work was commissioned by the late granddaughter of Mathias Alten, Anita M. Gilleo (1924 – 2023).

The work is installed at the GVSU Pew Campus Mount Vernon Pedestrian Mall next to the L. William Seidman Center. The work will be a permanent part of the GVSU art collection and will also have an accompanying augmented reality component, which will bring the sculpture to life via the Art at GVSU mobile app.

Alten Sculpture model 1

Model of Mathias J. Alten sculpture

Alten Sculpture model 2

Model of Mathias J. Alten sculpture

Alten Sculpture Model 3

Model of Mathias J. Alten sculpture

The artist, J. Brett Grill, is a sculptor of figurative bronzes, monuments, and portraits. He worked as an Associate Professor of Art and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Missouri for 10 years and now maintains a studio in Grand Rapids, MI. Brett has sculpted presidents, politicians, athletes, coaches, and other leaders. His commissioned sculptures can be found in public and private collections across the nation including the University of Kentucky, the University of Michigan, Grand Valley State University, Albion College, the New Hampshire State Library, the USS Gerald R. Ford, the City of Grand Rapids, the City of Charlotte, and the National Statuary Hall Collection.

ArtPrize 2022

For ArtPrize 2022 we hosted work by California-based artist Scott Froschauer from his series The Word on the Street and The Peace Signs. The GVSU venue was located on the pedestrian pathways outside the L.V. Eberhard Center on the Grand Rapids Pew Campus, where the Blue Bridge meets the west bank of the Grand River.

Froschauer’s work is familiar yet surprising, taking the form of street signs but communicating messages of hope and positivity, rather than municipal warnings. Of his work, Froschauer states, “By using the materials and visual language of street signs, but replacing the traditional negative wording (Stop, Do Not Enter, Wrong Way…) with positive affirmations, The Word on the Street seeks to provide something that is missing from our daily visual diet.”

The Peace Signs series takes these ideas one step further and challenges viewers to consider their role in creating and reinforcing social standards of behavior. These works take the form of parking zone signs but utilize the text of the Lao-Tse poem Peace in the Heart translated into many different languages. Froschauer describes this project as "an exploration in visualizing world peace." 

Breathe Sign

Scott Froschauer, Breathe, courtesy of the artist

peace signs project

Scott Froschauer, The Peace Signs, courtesy of the artist

Scott Froschauer talks about his project The Word on the Street

Scott Froschauer discussing his project The Word of the Street

Rethinking Street Signs Activity | Inspired by the Work of Scott Froschauer

Designed for grades 6-12, but adaptable for all ages, in this activity students will look closely at and think critically about the visual language of municipal street signs and other ‘official’ signs in their environments. They’ll question the impact of these signs in their day-to-day lives. They’ll re-imagine and create their own signs with alternative messages.

Lesson Plan

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A Look Back at ArtPrize 2021

During ArtPrize 2021 GVSU hosted two massive sculptures; Jason Quigno's Infinity Cube, at L.V. Eberhard Center; and José Marcelino Valdez and Gerson Valdez-Cordòn's Mayan Stelae Of King K'ak' Tiliw Chan Topaat, at L. William Seidman Center.

To support engagement with Jason Quigno's sculpture, we created this lesson plan and activity for 3-6 grade. Students can learn more about Infinity Cube and the artist's subtractive carving process.

Jason Quigno in studio

Jason Quigno with maquette of Infinity Cube at his studio Asinaabe Studios

José Marcelino Valdez and Gerson Valdez-Cordòn
Mayan Stelae Of King K'ak' Tiliw Chan Topaat
Carved Cement

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Previous ArtPrize Exhibitions at GVSU

Tour Past ArtPrize Works on Campus

To celebrate ten years of ArtPrize at GVSU, we have created self-guided mobile tours on the Art at GVSU mobile application for Apple and Android devices. These tours highlight previous ArtPrize entries from the past decade that have since become part of the GVSU permanent art collection. 

GVSU Contact

For all ArtPrize inquiries, please contact:

Joel Zwart
Curator of Exhibitions and Collections
[email protected]

Page last modified August 25, 2023