Artwork by artists from across the Upper Peninsula is now on display at the world’s largest art competition – ArtPrize 10!
This event runs through Oct. 7 in Grand Rapids.
An impressive coalition of arts and tourism organizations and businesses has combined efforts to promote ArtPrize art by U.P. artists, effectively marketing cultural tourism.
Leaders in the travel industry helping to market U.P. artists displaying at ArtPrize include the U.P. Travel and Recreation Association (UPTRA), Mission Point Resort (Mackinac Island), and several U.P. Convention & Visitors Bureaus: Visit Escanaba, Keweenaw Convention & Visitors Bureau, St. Ignace Visitors’ Bureau, Manistique Lakes Area Tourism Bureau, and Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau.
Business support includes the Star Line Ferry, Imperial Beverage and the following Escanaba credit unions: Great Lakes First Federal CU, Peninsula Federal CU, and U.P. State CU.
According to Pasqua Warstler, Regional Projects & Gallery Director at Escanaba’s Bonifas Arts Center,
“By presenting some of our strongest, most creative artists and showcasing the contemporary artwork being created here in the region, we presented the U.P. as a must-see destination. The U.P. has a vibrant art scene that attracts artists from throughout the country for its natural beauty and isolation, but the region’s vastness also makes it difficult to gain recognition. ArtPrize is a great opportunity for those artists to be seen and get connected to others.”
The U.P. Travel and Recreation Association (UPTRA), the U.P.’s destination expert in bringing visitors to the U.P. and helping them plan their trips, encourages visitors to view this U.P. ArtPrize exhibit and is a partner in building cultural tourism in the U.P. Visit http://www.uptravel.com.
Another leader in the tourism industry, Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island, supported the U.P. ArtPrize project by hosting a special preview exhibit during their summer high season and added huge visibility for these U.P. artists.
“The business community of Mackinac Island is a shining example of promoting art as cultural tourism,” explained Warstler. “This special U.P. preview exhibit, ‘Crossing the Straits,’ presented artwork in ten venues throughout the town site, and opened with a Meet the Artists Opening Reception event at the Center for the Arts at Mission Point. It was on display through Sept. 7, and gave viewers a sneak peek into the wonderful art they can expect to see at ArtPrize.”
The event was “a smashing success, garnering twice as many guests as were expected,” according to Philip Rice, Director of the Mackinac Arts Council. “Mackinac Island is on board, and is an example of smart business. People are speaking up and supporting art and tourism.”
The owner of Mission Point Resort, Denny Ware, is speaking up about how the human aspect of artwork attracts interest: “Every time you get human endeavor captured, it makes sense,” Ware said.
“Good art is good business and it is about bridging arts and culture into the business world,” Warstler explained. “The Pure Michigan ad campaign is promoting the U.P. as a tourist destination, but we want to also say that those same natural resources that draw tourists also draw artists to the U.P. The biggest area for growth is in cultural tourism. There is no better way to engage the public in arts, and that’s exactly what ArtPrize does.”
Quincy Ranville, Executive Director of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau, agrees.
“Supporting the art and culture of our historically rich region through programs like this is one of the pillars of the marketing campaign of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau. “We understand that arts and culture play a vital role in our economy both locally and regionally. Our tourism reports overwhelmingly support (the fact) that our visitors seek experiences and intellectually engaging conversation over objects and flashy consumerism. Tourism is one of the largest industries in the region and all of the Upper Peninsula, and we are all seeing the positive impact of embracing our historically rich culture to truly market ourselves as a one-of-a-kind destination.”
Upper Peninsula legislators in both the House and Senate also supported the U.P. at ArtPrize project. In a letter initiated by State Senator Tom Casperson’s office, and signed by U.P. legislators, they said the following: “Upper Peninsula arts organizations realize they must work together on a regional level for mutual goals and shared benefits… We enthusiastically endorse the inclusion of “Crossing the Straits,” and we support this endeavor.”
ArtPrize is an open international art competition decided by public vote and expert jury that takes place in a number of venues throughout Grand Rapids. Two $200,000 grand prizes and eight category awards – more than $500,000 in total – is awarded, half decided by public vote and half decided by a jury of art experts. Art entries from all over the world cover three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids – and it’s all free and open to the public. The art will be viewed by approximately 400,000 visitors and will give the message that the U.P. is a unique arts and culture destination. To check out the latest on ArtPrize 10, visit www.artprize.org.
This year, the official U.P. artists’ venue at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids is The Venue Tower Building www.artprize.org/venue-tower-apartments. “We are happy for the enthusiasm from our official U.P. ArtPrize venue,” Warstler added. “The Venue Tower Building is in the hub of the ArtPrize district and it’s a great location for us.”