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This Week's Events

#BlackLivesMatter: The images, the talk

It is very easy for anyone to become desensitized (or worse, paralyzed) after a season of troubling news stories complete with images that depict young black men like Jordan Davis, Tamir Rice, Jordan Crawford, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner, who were all gunned down in our nation's streets, often for very suspect reasons.
These images have granted each of us an unexpected front row seat via our handhelds and televisions. Many do become numb to it and change the channel but others, like Holland's CultureWorks Gallery, are seeking to present a meaningful platform to discuss the matter.
As a photographer, I am reminded that an image is not the end of our journey, but in fact its representation is our starting point. CultureWorks of Holland understands this, too, and is inviting the public to join them for a panel discussion at the closing reception of its #BlackLivesMatter exhibition – a body of works created by artists from area middle and high schools in reaction to these news events.
"These works from Ferguson/St. Louis, Detroit, and New York City- cities that have become epicenters of this movement- respond to this statement by not only reflecting on these tragedies but by celebrating and commemorating specific black lives whose contributions have had a personal and profound impact on the artists," says Tori Pelz curator of #BlackLivesMatter.
The gallery panel is made up of artists and scholars who will be addressing the idea #BlackLivesMatter and how it impacts our culture.
The list of panelists include:
George Bayard is founder of Bayard Gallery of Fine African American Art, West Michigan’s largest gallery devoted to artists of color. Bayard serves on boards including the Public Museum of West Michigan Collections, Grand Rapids Symphony, Jim Crow Museum, Arts Mid-West, and Grand Rapids Arts Advisory Board.
Dr. Fred Johnson III is Associate Professor of History at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. His primary field of study is 19th Century U.S. History, specifically, the Civil War. Dr. Johnson coauthored the biography Tupac Shakur: the Life and Times of an American Icon and is currently researching the book America’s Blind Spot: U.S. Foreign Policy in Africa, 1945 –present.
Eno Laget is a Detroit-based street artist currently exhibiting CultureWorks’ #BlackLivesMatter exhibit. Fashioned from humble materials of spray paint, discarded newsprint and hand-cut stencils, his graphic street posters are steeped in a sense of place and respond to the city’s bruised history.
Dr. Jack Mulder is Professor of Philosophy at Hope College and specializes in topics of race, religion, and ethics.
Admission: Free

Made in Michigan: On Saturday start with art, then venture out

If you have had your head stuck in the sand over the last few years, you will no doubt be shocked to learn that the local economy is thriving again. And while not all sectors are growing, one area that is doing well is the one that seeks to elevate and celebrate the local brands made here in our state. 
East Hills' Made in Michigan Day is a neighborhood business district's effort to showcase all things Michigan. And since I am a huge fan of what art has been able to make possible here in our state, I'm also pleased that these Michigan artists - Nora Faber, Royce Deans and Maggie Clifford-Bandstra – will all have brand new works on display for you to welcome into your home. 
So in an attempt to steer you in the right direction as you support our local economy, you are invited to start your Saturday journey with art made here by folks many of you may already know.  
The entire street of Cherry will be popping all day with people walking about enjoying the benefits of spring in Michigan and what it has made possible for some of our artisans. 
Admission: Free

Rhiannon Giddens: Break-out musician is the concert of the year

Friday, May 2, 7:30 p.m.
In the fall of 2013, T-Bone Burnett presented a New York City’s Town Hall music event that sought to elevate the diverse singer/songwriter voices of the artists on the Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack.
If you saw the Showtime TV special of this event  (titled Another Day, Another Time) then you remember that one moment where Rhiannon Giddens, founding member of Carolina Chocolate Drops, broke through the stratosphere as her voice left the planet.
Giddens, with her flawless gospel, jazz, and blues style, will stop by at St. Cecilia Music Center’s (SCMC) Acoustic Café Series next Friday as she makes her away across the nation on her first solo recording debut, Tomorrow Is My Turn.
And if you have never spent any time at SCMC then you are in for a real treat. As an added bonus, SCMC welcomes the attendees to a special meet and greet reception immediately following the performance. Opening for Giddens is Bhi Bhiman whose guitar and vocal style and compositions have been compared to John Prine, Nick Lowe, and Randy Newman.
And critics all over the nation are proclaiming this is a concert not to be missed. We are lucky to have her here (and in such a wonderfully intimate performance venue.)
Admission: $30.

Wes Moore: Two opportunities to impact change

Tuesday and Wednesday, Apr. 28 & 29
It is not every day that we get to welcome a bestselling author whose resume boasts lines including Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, and White House Fellow. But lucky for us, we get this opportunity this week  (twice) as First Steps of Kent County welcomes Wes Moore to the region.
Moore rose to notoriety after his book, The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, drew rave reviews after it was published in 2010 and set in motion dialogue about the topic of education in our society.
In the book, Moore tells the tale of his own childhood struggles and family challenges, contrasting his eventual success with the story of another man named Wes Moore, who was born just blocks away within the same year and who ended up serving a life sentence in prison. The book was widely debated on university campuses and was a popular choice for book clubs wanting to delve into issues of opportunity, equity, and social justice.
Now the author of this engaging book will be in Grand Rapids to share his views on parenting and a community's role in a child's life. Moore is also coming here to help us celebrate the 5th anniversary of First Steps Kent – a public-private partnership committed to investing in our youngest children, so that we can ensure a stronger, more prosperous future for all.
“First Steps Kent has been a powerful champion for young children since its beginning,” says Rich Liberatore, First Steps interim executive director. “We are proud to have helped pave the way for new parents to find adequate health care, play groups, child care, preschool… even diapers… for their little ones… which of course paves the way for the children’s future success.”
There are two chances to hear Moore speak locally. (Click on the links to register.)
On Tuesday, April 28, Moore will welcome parents, childcare providers, educators, and advocates for a free event at Ottawa Hills High School.

On Wednesday, April 29, he will be speaking at Meijer Gardens with a talk aimed at business leaders, elected officials, educators, and community advocates. Cost for The Gardens' events is $15 and includes a hot breakfast buffet.
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