Congratulations Grand Rapids, it was a VERY successful Art Prize that ended Sunday.  The streets of downtown were just as busy on the 19th day as they were on many of the days that came before.

The Grand Rapids Press reported that thousands of people were checking out art on a day the weather reached 80 degrees mid-afternoon.

ArtPrize organizers believe ArtPrize venues may have been visited as many as 500,000 times. The Grand Rapids Art Museum alone received 162,000 visitors since the opening on Sept. 21.

“It was such a pleasure to have so many participating artists in the galleries, talking to guests about the works of art,” said Kerri VanderHoff, director of marketing and public relations at the museum. “Watching people engage with the personal stories, concepts, and explanations of technique was really wonderful.”

Julie Free Heart, one of the artists, who traveled from Northfield, Minn., to participate, said that as early as the first Saturday of ArtPrize, it was some of the best days of her life.

“I have been in shows before, and I have never had the kind of exchanges I have had with people that I have had here,” Free Heart said, as she was getting ready to take down, “May We All Be Well,” showing at the DeVos Place Convention Center.

Some 1,582 works of art were on display in 164 venues in the third exhibition and competition created by social entrepreneur Rick DeVos.

A total of 17 artists were awarded nearly $500,000 with the top prize of $250,000 going to Mia Tavonatti, of Santa Ana, Calif., for her mosaic,”The Crucifixion.”

There's no rest for the weary because the planning for Art Prize 2012 begins in November.