GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In years past, thousands of people filled the sidewalks and streets of downtown Grand Rapids during ArtPrize. If ever there was an event that was designed to survive — possibly even thrive during a pandemic — it’s ArtPrize.

“Not knowing where we were going to be in the rollercoaster of COVID, we made a decision to have an outdoor ArtPrize entry that would be visible 24/7,” said Dana Friis-Hansen, director and CEO of the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

The GRAM is doing it differently this year. The walls inside the building have hosted several past ArtPrize winners. This year’s entry, called the “My Dearest Friends Project,” is large, outside and the only piece the GRAM is hosting this year.

ArtPrize organizers are hoping that while you’re expanding your horizons and taking in all the new art, you’ll expand your travels beyond the traditional three-mile downtown footprint the competition has previously used.

“It’s definitely about activating the neighborhood and just the southeast side in general,” said Monk Matthaeus, co-founder of Hip Hop Association of Advancement and Education.

Matthaeus presented the idea of making the Center for Community Transformation an ArtPrize venue for 2020. After last year’s competition was canceled, it’s a go for this year.

“This side of the city, this part of the community kind of feels a little left out when it comes to ArtPrize, and this would be a great opportunity for you guys to engage and showcase what’s happening on the southeast side,” said Matthaeus.

The Center for Community Transformation is on Madison Avenue and Cottage Grove Street southeast, about a 10-minute drive from downtown Grand Rapids.

They will host several events open to the public during ArtPrize and will display art from 23 artists.

The center’s community engagement specialist says when you visit, you’ll notice a theme.

“A lot of the pieces that you’ll find at our center are really focused on that aspect of mental health, COVID-19 and what that kind of did to the human race,” said Amanda Jones, community engagement specialist at the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation.

The Center for Community Transformation isn’t the only venue outside of downtown. Frederik Meijer Gardens returns alongside new satellite locations at Campau Park on the south side and the Creston Neighborhood on the north side.

The Lions and Rabbits Center for the Arts is the hub for Creston’s art community.

“It’s (Lions and Rabbits) a catchall, that’s what I always say, but our mission is just to make an inclusive space for everybody and to ignite social change and economic change through arts and art education,” said Hannah Berry, executive director of Lions and Rabbits.

The Lions and Rabbits building on Sept. 7, 2021.

The venue is available to rent for public and private events. That helps pay the bills so local artists can get paid for their work. Executive Director Hannah Berry has an entry aimed at drawing people in.

“This year now all of the murals we’ve put up over the last couple years are going to be participants in ArtPrize. On top of that we have a couple other artists that will be putting up more work, a couple installations going in and then Lions and Rabbits slash me, we’re doing this board game that we created. And it’s going to be on the ground, you’re the physical pawn in the game,” said Berry.

Many of your favorite venues are also returning. The Ford Presidential Museum and Grand Rapids Public Museum both have art on display on their lawns.

The B.O.B. is hosting more than 50 artists, with a few outside, but most inside. And DeVos Place is hosting more than three dozen artists, both inside the convention center and out on the riverwalk.

“When you’re matched up with a venue you try and get into one that you hope people are going to set foot in,” said artist Adam Bock. “Obviously DeVos Place is kind of the hot bed I’d say of Art Prize and so a lot of people come through here.”