If a work of art is popular with the public, does that make it “good” art? Which is more important, the artist critics’ perceptions or the common person? And, perhaps most importantly, where can we find lunch?
These, and other questions, I wondered walking around the streets of Grand Rapids. But after seeing Art Prize, the art event and social phenomenon that fills downtown Grand Rapids with art, people, and fliers from artists asking for votes in the competition, the only question you’ll have is why Art Prize is only 19 days long. About 1,500 artists have entered the competition, the top cash prize being $200,000 and decided by public vote.
Covering three squares miles, art is displayed everywhere: from restaurants and stores, to museums like the GRAM (Grand Rapids Art Museum) and the Gerald Ford Museum. Even the city’s river and bridges are become temporary gallery walls. And don’t forget to check out the B.O.B. (Big Old Building), which always has large-scale sculpture showcased in front of it (along with an outdoor bar and an ice cream truck with vegan ice cream.)
After checking out Art Prize this past weekend, I have a few veggie, gluten-free places to suggest to you. After working up an appetite, walking all over downtown admiring the art, a perfect pit stop is Bartertown Diner. An all-vegan menu, a rotating selection of choices made with in-season veggies, and gluten-free options makes this a great stop for lunch. Don’t pass up the desert case near the front— their vegan cheesecake is just delicious.
Also, if you’re in the mood for Thai, Angel’s Cafe is located downtown, if you don’t want to venture too far from the creativity. Try the tom kha soup and spring rolls.
If you’ve got a mixed bag of palates, head over to Marie Catribs, with many vegetarian entrees, and all the sammiches can be made with gluten-free bread.
If caffeine and a place for reflection is what you need, check out Common Ground— for good coffee, fun drink special names and a rack of CDs by local artists near the register.
And for more recommendations, check out Vegan Grand Rapids— which has the low down on all the other vegan eateries to check out.