New ArtPrize Executive Director sees ArtPrize as ‘home’ for artists

Kristin Coppens

| 3 min read

ArtPrize Executive Director, Christian Gaines
The buzz of ArtPrize 2013 has begun to really take hold in the Grand Rapids community as we ramp up for the competition’s fifth year in just over six weeks. ArtPrize continues to break the mold and transform the vibe of the Grand Rapids community as the world’s largest art competition based on public vote.
In fact, TIME Magazine named ArtPrize one of five events not to miss in 2013 (the only mentioned event in the United States). Not only does ArtPrize bring art and artists to the community, but there is also always an enormous surge of tourism, economic boom, education, collaboration, and activity.
ArtPrize Executive Director, Christian Gaines
This year, the ArtPrize organization brought on a new Executive Director, Christian Gaines. Gaines previously hails from the film festival world and (a division of Amazon). Elaborating on that parallel experience of film festivals and art festivals, he was drawn to ArtPrize for its specific differences.
“ArtPrize is fascinating because it is truly a unique phenomenon with quick success. It is also extremely tech-centered which causes infective engagement; it is truly minting the next generation of art lovers,” states Gaines.
Having previously spent his life until now in Europe, the East Coast, Hawaii, and LA, one might wonder why Gaines chose Grand Rapids. He answers like a true Grand Rapidian, effortlessly listing the components that make Grand Rapids a gem of the Midwest.
Gaines notes, “As the hub of art and design with Herman Miller, Haworth, Steelcase, and Kendal College of Art and Design, I knew [Grand Rapids] would enrich my passions and interests. And it’s a pretty city with structural preservation, walkability, and a quality of life.”
The city boasts a largely creative community of art and design and a truly thriving entrepreneurial spirit.
“My goal is to steward the future success of ArtPrize as it has already gained so many accomplishments. The competition has been embraced by leaders in the community at a higher level and it really benefits many and fosters continued excitement,” explains Gaines.
Gaines brings a fresh vision to the ArtPrize team with an even larger focus on the artists involved. This year, we can expect a couple new features during the competition. First, the ArtPrize website will now feature the functionality for artists to sell their work and communicate with interested buyers. Second, ArtPrize will be introducing an Art Clubhouse. The Clubhouse will be open to stakeholders (art club members, artists, venues, sponsors, and media) with lanyards allowing them to enjoy food, drinks, and entertainment as a way to hang out throughout the competition and support the artists. Gaines wants ArtPrize to be an event where artists are honored, recognized, and celebrated.
“Being an artist is a brave profession and takes a great deal of courage to put your ideas out there. I want the artists to truly feel at home with ArtPrize,” he says.
Grand Rapids as a community is home to ever increasing collaboration and a notion of embedded involvement across individuals and businesses from a number of different angles. Gaines hopes to see Grand Rapids transform into the Silicon Valley of art and design. The city is swiftly moving in the right direction to continue its accomplishments and experience that exponential growth. An event like ArtPrize, reiterates Gaines, “should symbolize this and provide a broad understanding of ‘that’s where the magic happens.’”
What are you most looking forward to during this year’s ArtPrize?
Photo credit: ArtPrize

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