ArtPrize award celebrates diversity


Paul Collins in front of his mural of President Gerald R. Ford at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Photo via

A new award will honor diversity at this year’s ArtPrize.

The inaugural Paul Collins Diversity in Art Award will be presented this year in the form of a $5,000 prize to celebrate the contributions local artist Paul Collins has made to the art community.

The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon by the city of Grand Rapids, Richard App Gallery and Don Everette. The award will focus on artists of color and will be judged by a panel of local artists.

“Together, we can envision a path by which to actively and deliberately extend the open call of ArtPrize,”Everette said. “It is my hope that more people of color will participate, to further the ethnic and cultural diversity of art in this event.”

As part of this year’s ArtPrize, Richard App Gallery will curate pieces on Calder Plaza that have a focus on artists with diverse backgrounds. ArtPrize, along with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., has underwritten the Calder Plaza venue.

The plaza was selected due to its history as a gathering place for Grand Rapids to celebrate ethnicity, often as the hub of culture festivals.

“As ArtPrize matures, it’s become clear that it’s not enough for the event to be radically open,” said Kevin Buist, director of exhibitions for ArtPrize. “To truly engage all audiences, we need to be radically inclusive. The difference is that it’s incumbent on us to form partnerships in the community that ensure a diverse population feels welcome at ArtPrize.”

The award recognizes Collins, who was selected by organizers to represent the spirit and intention of this new award. American Artist Magazine recognized Collins in its list of top 20 figure painters.

Collins was born in Muskegon in 1936 and moved to Grand Rapids shortly thereafter. Many might know his mural of President Gerald R. Ford at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport that displays various parts of the president’s life.

His work can be found as part of permanent displays at the Van Andel Museum, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit and various locations across Michigan and locations across the globe.

“Mr. Collins’diverse heritage has provided him with a unique ability to capture and communicate on canvas the many faces of our diverse nation,”Richard App said. “His work has been viewed around the world, from the Pushkin Museum in Moscow to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

“Collins’many achievements, awards and recognitions are a reflection of the significant contributions he has made.”

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