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This Week's Events

Free: To Say Goodbye Is Hard

Opening Friday, Aug. 1, 6 - 11 p.m.
This city has adopted many changes over the years and one that seems to be the most in vogue is the concept of the First Friday. This mad dash to hit each and every venue or organization from the patron side is truly maddening considering the runner-like pace one must adopt to hit each one. (It is honestly impossible to do it all in one night.)
When you add the desire of many to disappear to the shores of Lake Michigan each weekend, then you can see how hosting an event in the city with such competition can make an event planner's goals of attraction a literal scheduling nightmare. But I want to encourage you to change your patterns this Friday night and get to Gaspard, a gallery on the Avenue for the Arts presenting its final exhibition, Free.
Gaspard has been unique on the Avenue in that they always understood the need to present fresh contemporary work that might not always connect with our local audience. It may not be for everyone, but those who do present this uniquely versioned art proudly in their homes do so with an absolute reverence for the Gaspard artists works.
Free will be the final chapter of Gaspard's two-year story and will feature a group exhibition with works by Chris Cox, Jeff Kraus, and Jacob Bullard with supporting exhibition graphic design by Ben Biondo.
The gallery space will still function as a place for the remaining members of Gaspard to pursue creative and publishing projects but the members are clearly moving on, as Chris Cox departs for Detroit to secure a MFA in photography at Cranbrook Academy of Art and Ben Biondo relocates to Los Angeles to advance his graphic design business. Artists Jeff Kraus and Jacob Bullard will continue their work in Grand Rapids but will be shifting their focus within their respective businesses.
The end of the Gaspard model is a sad one for many in the arts, but if you have lived here long enough, then you have come to understand that talent circulates and cannot be contained within our borders. The desire to explore is a big part of the themes these artists have explored in their works, and the best anyone who continues on in Grand Rapids can expect is that someone will be inspired by their influence and build upon what came before them.
Sure, you can still plan to attend one of the many events along the Avenue for the Arts, including the one-year anniversary of Have Company (a shop devoted to DIY/DIT culture), but Gaspard's unique gallery space on the very edge of the district offers just one last opportunity to experience something rare – a true contemporary art gallery devoted to sales with work truly outstanding in every way. 
In short, this is my absolutely-don't-miss event, since after this exhibition closes, so will much for our community as these change agents begin next steps in advancing their careers. They will be missed but you can still secure a work of art while they are with us. That would be the best way, in my humble opinion, to keep their legacy on the Avenue alive.
Admission: Free

Bring Your Own Beamer: Projecting (International) Cool

Friday, Aug. 1, 8 - 11 p.m.
Before you attempt to drive your ‘beamer’ into the Urban Center for Contemporary Art's (UICA) gallery space this Friday night be warned that it's not a downtown version of the Wyoming mall parking lot car cruise night for German cars.
But you would be correct in thinking it has European ties because in Europe a beamer is a projector that "beams images onto a surface," says UICA's Exhibitions Curator AJ Paschka.
‘Bring Your Own Beamer Grand Rapids’ is an international, one-night-only art exhibition with a remarkable list of filmmakers bringing fresh cinema to our city.
This event, which began in 2010 with artist Rafaël Rozendaal, has grown international after being open sourced, allowing other art centers to pick up the Bring Your Own Beamer (BYOB) brand. As a result the BYOB event has played in cities like  Valparaiso, Pittsburgh, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Cape Town, and now Grand Rapids.
It is also so much more than just unspooling a film as, for this presentation, guests can expect to see a 3D projection project, a three-channel video, a hybrid analog/digital performance with real time video mixing, and a GIF with a 3D GIF signature.
UICA is the perfect venue to host this showcase because so much of this work is cutting edge cinema.
"'Bring Your Own Beamer' is unique and relevant because we are living in a time when technology has enabled new paths of expression that are derived from the technological tools of communication," says Paschka. "In a digital era that feels alien and endless, we must remember that the original computers were created to manage the patterns of the fabric industry at the beginning of the industrial revolution. The marriage of art and technology is closely woven, and is able to reflect the content, concerns, and possibilities of the contemporary era."
Updates to the artist list and artist drop-in information will be posted at uica.org/event/bring-your-own-beamer-grand-rapids/ with Santa Dremaine (Milford, MI), Parisa Ghaderi (Ann Arbor, MI), Dylan Gunnett (Grand Rapids, MI), Jeremy Knickerbocker (Grand Rapids, MI), Bia Rodrigues (Brazil), and Eric Souther (South Bend, Indiana) scheduled to project on Friday night.
BYOB does not mean bring your own beer, as it will be for sale at the event along with food provided by Tory O'Hare's award-winning Propaganda Doughnuts and a sneak taste of his latest restaurant The Bandit Queen.
Admission: Free (Underwritten by GR Current)

Bike Pub Crawl Will Not Be Televised IV: Pedal Up

Sometimes you feel like going home after work and staying on the couch watching TV is wrong. For those nights, thankfully we have alternatives like The Bike Pub Crawl Will Not Be Televised Part IV.
Organized by Brad Smit – a local bartender in our city – the bike pub-crawl will include stops at places that have held off on installing TVs in their establishments.
The tour starts at Harmony Brewing Company of Eastown and then winds through the city's neighborhood watering holes The Meanwhile and Brewery Vivant before landing around 9 p.m. at Heartside's The Pyramid Scheme.
Cost is really what you want to spend at each of the venues on beer, food, or, in the case of the final destination, pinball.
So hop on your bike and join others who, like you, enjoy a pub where TVs are banned but conversation between locals is encouraged.
Admission: Free


Into The Woods: Sometimes People Leave You

Opening Night, Thursday, Aug. 7, see website for evening and matinee options.
One of the greatest stories in the history of American theater is the career and work of Stephen Sondheim. Many have attempted to understand his scope of topics over the years but often come up empty handed in trying to pigeonhole him.
The best I can come up with after seeing so many of his productions, both on stage and those that translated to the big screen, is that he writes about the emotions we feel inside with such an universal appeal but always as if he were lifting our inner hopes and fears from us in the audience.
The SouthSide Theater Company, which has brought to life so many challenging works of theater that others would never attempt on the intimate, tiny stage at Dog Story Theater, will present Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods, a story that imagines what really happened to the characters after our childhood fairy tales ended at bedtime with the book-closing line "… and they lived happily ever after."
The musical follows the stories of a baker and his wife who learn they've been cursed with childlessness by the witch next door, so they embark on a quest to break the spell by swindling, lying to and stealing from Cinderella, Little Red Ridinghood, Rapunzel, and Jack (of Beanstalk fame).
Yes, everyone still gets that special wish granted, but Into The Woods is focused on the actions characters have to take in order for wishes to come true, and on the consequences.  
Into the Woods has won many awards, including Tony Awards for Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical (Joanna Gleason).
Once again, SouthSide's Andrew Williams will bring a very fresh interpretation to the show, as he scales down the traditionally large cast to a very conservative 12-member cast and presents this production through the eyes of a child.
In addition to direction provided by Williams, Joel Shindlbeck will provide music direction with stage management by Kieran and Jennifer Smith. SouthSide's cast of Into The Woods includes Jesse Aukeman, Mark Ayers, Jess Barton, Devon Brown, Jessica Doyle, Cera Drake, Amy Groen, Michael Kohlenberger, Matt Hartman, William Mathias, Sarah Milbratz, and Eva Switek.
Admission: Advance tickets range from $12 - 16 and are recommended as this intimate show will sell out.
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