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At the Table: Timely in-your-face theatre, bring your friends

The tradition of friends gathering together is something that most can agree is a long-standing tradition. But in modern times, table conversation can often occur with faces staring down in our phones, missing the glow of why table dialogue with friends is the thing that we should not lose.

So it is with much encouragement that a contemporary play, “At the Table,” arrives at Actors' Theatre Grand Rapids. This new work is perfectly suited for our time as much of what we see on stage is easily recognizable to the audience.

Playwright Michael Perlman’s "At the Table" is a comedic drama that asks of the audience: what happens when those with privilege are pushed to the periphery and a marginalized minority suddenly finds its voice amplified in this intimate crowd?

The play goes on to explore boundary-pushing matters like who is allowed to discuss certain topics. It is a play that is certain to create some anxiety, too, as the actors on stage pull us into their journey.

The play has all the fixtures of a good drama with six friends who, away from the noise of the city, head out to an annual retreat for the weekend. With no social media, no cell phones, no internet allowed, these friends must do what we’ve always done before technology robbed us of our attention spans: we talk to each other with our gaze uninterrupted by technology.

And just like I am sure some of your parties, when the liquor starts to flow, you never know what is going to come out of someone’s mouth, this is a topical play that is sure to challenge our views of our national identity.

This is the final weekend of “At the Table," so do not delay if you are so inclined to seek thought-provoking theatrical experiences. 

11th Annual Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival: Sip, nosh, sip

We can’t say this enough: how lucky we are that each year the weekend before Thanksgiving, area food and spirits enthusiasts get to discover new flavors and tasty treats that can make you the informed star at your next holiday affair. The 11th Annual Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer, & Food Festival returns bigger than ever to DeVos Place this weekend and you will want to be sure to visit.

This event opens up to you a chance to enjoy the first sips of brand new products like local canned cocktails, to chef-led culinary workshops and instructional sessions with food authors, to any one of the many multi-course meal tasting menus from area eateries. For the tasting menus, you will want to book reservations in advance to guarantee you a seat.

The venue is organized into fun names like The Vineyard, Hemingway Hall, Beer City Station, Cider Row, and the RendezBREW, a spirits and coffee-themed space.

To help you navigate the many spaces and events including the set times of musical act Valentiger or for booking your tasting menu reservation, please download the app for Android or Apple here.

However you choose to get there, just don’t miss the tastiest festival this city has to offer. It is the only one that comes with access to world-class wines with mega-point ratings and tasty, award-winning beer, all within steps of each other.  

Art Van Santa Parade: Picture perfect whether it snows or not

I, for one, am very excited to see that the 100th Art Van Santa Parade has not happened yet, so I can avoid all those folks next year who will surely ask, “Is this your first time down to the parade?” 

Granted, I love a good parade. There I said it. 

And lucky for me and those who like me enjoy a good festive parade, I am looking forward to celebrating the 99th year of this festive event for the first time. 

There will be parade floats, live music, and of course, a chance to have your photo taken with Santa courtesy of PNC Bank. 

The parade kicks off at 9 a.m. on the corner of Michigan St. and Monroe Ave. and will travel south to Fulton. 

The parade is led this year by the 2018 Grand Marshall and Guest of Honor Miss Michigan 2018, Emily Sioma. And lest you think she is the only celebrity, a certain man with a milk and cookies habit will be prowling the streets (and I don’t mean Michael Pfleghaar).

If you cannot make it out, watch all the parade drama on WOOD-TV8 from the comfort of your couch, shamelessly dressed in your blue snuggy.

Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab Pitch and Showcase: Shark Tank gets its stripes on

Pitch competitions are a thing here. Don’t be shocked because we need them to be a thing here for host of good reasons, but most of all because they help generate good creative energy for our region. 

If you have watched on TV any of the many Shark Tank-styled pitch shows, then don’t expect that made-for-ratings drama fueling us here. (That TV stuff is made to keep you locked to the screen.)  

For those around you who have attended, say, a Start Garden 5x5 Night or any of the Michigan Women Forward’s Dolphin Tanks, then you know these are exciting and interesting nights of new ideas being given the platform to pitch their idea for funding. 

On November 26, 2018, a new pitch competition will launch when the first Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab (MVE) Pitch and Showcase competition debuts at the GVSU Richard M. DeVos Center’s Loosemore Auditorium.  

Those pitching on this night have completed the MVE-Lab — a 10-week accelerated program offered to U.S. veterans and military families to give them the skills, knowledge, and opportunities they need to develop and launch a business. 

These participants have trained alongside fellow aspiring veterans developing business acumen, connecting more meaningfully to the Grand Rapids entrepreneurial community, and developing access to funding.

This inaugural entrepreneurial talent event will be presented to a panel of judges who will be distributing nearly $15,000 in cash prizes. And the best part is that the audience gets to select who will take home $2,000 via the people’s choice award. 

The event is free and has complimentary parking at the Fulton Lot and Seward Ramp.

Please RSVP here to attend.
 

Grand Rapids Comic-Con: Cosplay all weekend in GR!

Don’t panic when, while enjoying a meal at your favorite downtown Grand Rapids cafe, you see from a distance a bird … or is it a plane … wait, it’s Superman, Chewbacca, and a Power Ranger! 

These sightings are just an indicator that Grand Rapids Comic-Con is back in town for the weekend.

Our local version of the national Comic-Con is a hometown celebration of the amazing art and creativity in creating this genre that has sparked comic books, movies, TV series, YouTube celebs, role playing, toys, and so much more. And ours just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

This year, the popular festival returns to the massive 100,000 square foot DeVos Place and will take over the convention center with rooms devoted to hearing panel discussions with favorite performers of the genre, as well as an expansive vendor exhibition hall, which will offer fans a chance to purchase new, vintage, and various collectibles. 

The 2018 festival weekend includes celebrities like “The Shape Of Water’s” Doug Jones, “Spider-Man’s” David Hayter, and James Jude Courtney, who played Michael Myers in “Halloween” (2018). Comic guests include creative luminaries like Kevin Eastman, the co-creator of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," Agnes Garbowska of "DC Super Hero Girls" and "My Little Pony," and also Renee Witterstaetter of "She-Hulk,' and "Conan The Barbarian."

All told, more than 60 guest artists and creatives will be making an appearance in our city this weekend at Grand Rapids Comic-Con, which has something for everyone, from a car show to film screenings, from Cosplay Crusaders to gaming, and if you are lucky, a Ghostbusters sighting.

It only happens once a year, so don’t miss this joyous and fun festival at DeVos Place, where there is really something for everyone on display this weekend. 

Thievery Corporation: World dance music with an electronic twist

Saturday, Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m. (doors), 8:30 p.m. (show time)
There are not many bands out there that can boast being proficient in so many styles of world music, much less rework it in a way that becomes something remarkably danceable under the guidance of two DJ/musicians. 

But that is exactly what one can expect to see from this band that I have been a fan of for more than 20 years. It is worth noting that this act from the District of Columbia appears at 20 Monroe Live and has played at the early version of the Rothbury Festival but has never had a radio hit, a big budget YouTube video, nor major label backing.

Instead, Rob Garza and Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation have used their creative chops to align a thrilling catalog of music releases that has welcomed acts and vocalists from around the world, like David Byrne, Perry Farrell, The Flaming Lips, Anoushka Shankar, Femi Kuti, Seu Jorge, and Bebel Gilberto.

In short, these kinds of acts have been rare here and if we don’t show some love for this level of craftsmanship, who knows how long it will be until they will return? So for the love of world dance music, be sure to snag a ticket to see this remarkable act in our city. 

Looking for the best seats in the house and a host of premium amenities? Email MariahBouwkamp@livenation.com for more info.

Screenwriting Workshop: Committing your story to paper

Sunday, Nov. 11, 1 - 4 p.m. & Monday, Nov. 12, 6 - 9 p.m.
We are a region rich with folks making all sort of waves within our social spaces with the tiny works of video they produce to showcase a story or quick message. 

But what about those local creatives who wish to use their keyboard skills to create a story that could become the next “Moonlight,” “Moonraker,” or “Moonstruck?”

Lucky for those of us seeking such a way to release our inner story idea, this weekend there is a workshop on screenwriting that is also a benefit for our local Write616.

This Screenwriting Workshop is a fundraising event hosted by Grand Rapids’ Emmy-winning producer and accomplished screenwriter Teresa Thome, who has not only created some incredible programming including the much-lauded children’s television show “Come On Over,” but has also created the heartfelt and funny one-woman show, “Warm Cheese.”

This two-day workshop will cover the basics of screenwriting for film, television, and the web, and also showcase how one can register their script and how to pitch. The goal of this event is for the aspiring or seasoned writer to walk away with an outline started to help get you on the road to birthing your creative child for the world to see. 

If you have been waiting for a scriptwriting event to be held here in our city, this is a great one to consider attending this week.

How to Not Always Be Working: NY Times featured artist Marlee Grace is having a book signing

Marlee Grace, when she was living here, always amazed those of us who frequented her Have Company Division Avenue store. But those who delved deeper also enjoyed her artist residency program, where artists from all over the nation would venture here to create works of art that she would place on display. 

And while she has been out of the area for a couple years now, her work continues to evolve as she roams the earth. (She even caught the eye of the NY Times for her work on the Instagram account Personal Practice.)

On her spin back through Grand Rapids, this time she will be arriving with a new book, “How to Not Always Be Working," she has written and will be signing copies at East Hill’s Books & Mortar this Sunday, November 11 from noon to 1:00 p.m.

According to Books & Mortar, “How to Not Always Be Working” is “Part workbook, part advice manual, part love letter. [The book] gently ventures into the liminal space where phone meets life, helping readers to define their work, their job, and their breaks."

In addition to having a chance to secure Grace’s signature on your copy of her new book, she will be reading selections as well as hosting conversations at this charming and intimate bookstore in our city. 

Bernstein's 100th: Creating beauty during ugly times

The American experience has been recorded over the centuries and if one were to select a handful of those whose works of art sought to do more than just entertain but actually reflect the culture of the time, then you would be hard-pressed not to include Leonard Bernstein.

Bernstein was more than just a conductor/composer, but an accomplished pianist, author and, most of all, a humanitarian. 

Whether he was composing for Broadway or for the concert hall, the roots of Bernstein’s iconic music dive into the urban-American life of the post-World War II era. And his contributions to the American cultural revolution that started in the 1930s (a time when artists were emigrating from Europe right as Hitler was rising to power) helped infuse a fresh mix of voices that would create some of the most memorable songs of our modern experience.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Bernstein’s birth, guest conductor Carl St. Clair, music director of the Pacific Symphony, will lead our Grand Rapids Symphony (GRS) through a sampling of Bernstein’s most popular music. The night’s selections pull from the 1950s — a very prolific period of composing for the artist. 

Joining our symphony on stage is American pianist Benjamin Pasternack, soloist for Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, “Age of Anxiety,” and American coloratura soprano Celena Shafer, who will sing highlights from iconic “West Side Story,” “Trouble in Tahiti,” and “Arias and Barcarolles.”

In an era of such conflict and sorrow all over the world, the occasion to lift up humanity while celebrating the life of an artist who also lived during very dark times is why this is a concert not to miss. 

“Through it all, my father clung hard to the belief that by creating beauty, and by sharing it with as many people as possible, artists had the power to tip the earthly balance in favor of brotherhood and peace. After all, he reasoned, if humans could create and appreciate musical harmony, then surely they were capable of replicating that very same harmony in the world they lived in.” (from Jamie Bernstein’s “My Father’s Idealism”)

Bernstein’s 100 celebrations are happening all over the world this year and lucky for our humanity, we will have a chance to hear music composed after the world had experienced one of the most horrific conflict events of our modern history. Here’s to music that still has the power to resonate with humanity and hopefully inspires some much-needed harmony.

To learn how others around the globe are celebrating Bernstein’s 100, follow the artist’s website. For tickets to this weekend's special birthday celebration of Bernstein's life in music, please visit the GRS

Photo provided by Paul de Hueck.
 

Recycled Art Market: The best gift-buying experience (if loving the planet is your jam)

There is a plethora of artist markets these days in our region, but 10 years ago when the Recycled Art Market debuted, it was unique and remains so to this day.

For the 10th Annual Recycled Art Market, those who will venture to Grand Rapids City High Middle School (1720 Plainfield Ave. NE) will have a chance to visit more than 75 artisans whose booths will feature creations that owe a lot to the past.

Why the past? 

Well, these unique, one-of-a-kind, and handmade items have one thing in common with the past: they all must use at least 50 percent recycled, upcycled, or repurposed materials in their work to participate in this annual market.

Attendees will have a chance to purchase artwork, clothing, jewelry, and even furniture from artisans who are taking our past and importing forward to the future through their craft.

This event is a fundraiser for City High/Middle School PTSA. By attending and shopping here, your patronage helps raise money for City’s International Baccalaureate programs and support Michigan artisans.

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead): Family day in every possible way

The film “Coco” introduced in a huge way to a new generation the annual celebration of Día de los Metros — or for our English-speaking folk, Day of the Dead. 

When folks attend this year’s Día de los Muertos at the main branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL), they are in for a special treat because of how expansive this presentation is becoming with each passing year. 

For this special Day of the Dead celebration that opens to the public on October 31 and culminates with a community-themed Family Day gathering on Sunday, Nov. 4 from 1 to 4:30 p.m., this wildly popular annual Mexican holiday invites not only Latinx family and friends to share their tribute altars with the public, but the GRPL has also invited non-Latinx community members to contribute as well. 

It makes for a wonderful exploration of the many lives who have lived and yet, live on through these heartfelt tributes. Día de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday that honors family and friends who have passed on. 

The GRPL writes, “Loved ones come together to build an altar, or ofrenda, that celebrates the life and memory of the dead. The day is a time of celebration and joy, filled with talk and memories of those who have died. 

“On the ofrenda many significant objects are placed as gifts to the deceased loved ones. The altar holds four important elements: water, wind, fire, and earth. These are represented by a pitcher or glass; candles; papel picado (punched paper); and food, usually pan de muerto. Other items seen on altars include sugar skulls, flowers, photos, and religious items.”

And like every year, the annual Día de los Muertos will host a series of educational activities for families including a bilingual story time, live music from Gabriel Estrada III, crafts, and face painting. Food will be provided by El Granjero and Tamales Mary. Pan de Muerto provided by Panaderia Margo. 

If you want to see Pixar’s “Coco” in a community setting then on Saturday, October 27 at 10:30 a.m., GRPL will be hosting a free screening of this popular musical look at this ancient tradition. It will be played in English with Spanish subtitles.

Also on display will be the work of Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada through November 11. 

Posada was a printmaker and engraver who lived and worked during a period of Mexican history characterized by social and political upheaval. He illustrated historic scenes, board games and commercial items, religious images, various books, and newspapers. He is most famous for his use of calaveras (depictions of skulls and skeletons) to satirize and mock corruption of the wealthy and political elite. The exhibit includes 20 of his prints on loan courtesy of the Grand Valley State University Print and Drawing Cabinet
 

Vote: For the nation, state, and, most of all, our community

On November 6, we, who are of voting age and registered, will have a chance to add our voice to the ballot box as the nation goes to vote in one of the most anticipated votes of my lifetime. With so much on the line in an ever-polarizing world, sane voices are needed at the polls more than ever.

And while Rapid Growth does not endorse candidates for partisan reasons, we do place a high value on participatory acts like voting and how they can make a difference in society. Voting is a way to lend one’s voice to the process of society’s evolution (or devolution depending on who you talk to).

If you would like to know where you can vote or what your ballot will look like this year, please visit the Michigan Voter Information Center.

Also, if you are (or know anyone) who is a student, we want to encourage you to accompany them or just point them in the direction of Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), who will be hosting on Thursday, Nov. 1, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. a Rock the Vote concert at the Linn Maxwell Keller Recital Hall (courtesy of GRCC’s Music Department).

This free to the public concert aimed at college students will welcome to the stage The Crane Wives with opening acts Ben Traverse and Kaitlyn Zittel.

This event is brought to us by the bipartisan groups the Michigan League of Conservation Voters and Lakeside House Shows — a new organization based out of Manistee, Michigan that focuses on music-related events to raise awareness and money for environmental and non-partisan issues. 

Studies have shown that students often want to participate in the process but often don’t. This event seeks to bridge the divide by providing knowledge for attendees about just how easy it is to vote this year. 
 

Fifth Annual Padnos/Sarosic Civil Discourse Symposium: Gathering promotes healthy dialogue

One of the most powerful tools of our human evolution is our voice. And yet, we live in a time when most feel voiceless because we have forgotten how to talk with one another.

Many might attribute this to a host of reasons, but ultimately it is on us to harness the power of our voices and engage in the civil dialogue, even in the discourse, if we as a society are to advance beyond the anger that fuels most conversations today. 
Returning for the fifth year is the Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Symposium — a part of an Endowed Professorship of Civil Discourse from the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Grand Valley State University.

For its 2018 symposium, the focus will be turned to creating civil conversations on Climate Change.

Those attending this free event will have a chance to hear first from Dr. Elizabeth Arnold, who after addressing the topic of Climate Change will invite folks to gather in groups at tables where they will put into practice the art of civil discourse through conversations rooted in this very relevant topic. 

This series is a gift from Shelley E. Padnos and Carol Sarosik, who, along with GVSU, hope this series of talks will strengthen our individual commitment to informed, peace-based, and respectful dialogue across the campus community and all areas of West Michigan. 

According to the university’s website, “Civil discourse is engagement in discourse (conversation) intended to enhance understanding. Rather than focusing on the barriers and limitations of a situation, civil discourse involves a commitment to building on the possibilities and assets which folks around the table offer.”

Sure, there are plenty of lecture series within the city, but rarely do we have one like this that ushers in opportunities for us to learn and put into practice techniques that seek to engage with our society, which is always in motion.

Free parking is available at the Fulton and Seward lots. You can RSVP right up until the start of the event at this website.
 

Aimi Hamraie: Showcasing how cities are becoming welcoming spaces for all

This last Monday at the Disability Advocates of Kent County’s Invest in Ability annual dinner, the City of Grand Rapids was singled out for an award for their advances in creating a more welcoming city for all through their commitment to expanding access for all.

This is not just good PR but good governance, since who doesn’t want to make room for others to experience what so many freely do (and often without much thought)? 

But a huge part of our city’s journey is also owed to DisArt, an organization committed to increasing the participation of Disabled people in our communities through the curation of art exhibitions, cutting-edge public events, and organizational coaching.

DisArt is proud to welcome Professor Aimi Hamraie from Vanderbilt University, who will be on Aquinas’ campus for an in-depth conversation about how urban design and public art, when rooted in an understanding of Disability art and culture, can help cities celebrate and sustain, rather than eliminate, embodied difference. 

Hamraie’s insights will seek to illuminate the good work Grand Rapids is already doing to achieve an “age-friendly community” designation — an initiative of the World Health Organization in partnership with AARP. 

In this talk, Hamraie will cover urban design, public art, and building certification frameworks to analyze transformations within contemporary cities. To do this, Hamraie will draw on concepts from Disability studies, feminist science studies, permaculture ethics, and urban geography.

“DisArt is continually looking for opportunities to engage the community in conversations about equity, accessibility, and the positive role disability has to play in community,” says Co-Founder/Co-Executive Director Chris Smit. “This important lecture by Prof. Hamraie coincides with some major growth in Grand Rapids, and we are thrilled to be able to help introduce her thoughts on making sure that our city thrives as a place for all people.”

As an added bonus, this event is being produced in partnership with Local First, who is offering a discounted ticket price for lecture attendees for their annual Fork Fest, which takes place just three blocks away immediately after this lecture event.

To purchase tickets in advance, please visit DisArt’s special event website.

(Editor's note: DisArt is encouraging us to capitalize the word "Disability" moving forward.) 
 

TOYS!: A new multigenerational exhibition rooted in the joy of the childhood toy

Opening Saturday, Oct. 27, 8:00 - 10:00 a.m. (members preview), 10:00 a.m. (public)
As I look around my home office, I realize I might have a toy problem. From where I sit, I can see so much history as I spy a Hot Wheels car, Carol from “Where the Wild Things Are,” and a talking Po doll from the popular kids show Teletubbies. 

And while these toys on the surface when created were just something to play with as a kid (or child at heart), they also each represent a plethora of happy memories and good stories as to why they still are with me as I navigate my adult years.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) is hoping their new exhibition, TOYS!, will inspire you, too, to venture out to this very interactive, multi-generational exhibition of toys and games that is certain to rekindle childhood memories and spark fresh dialogue with those who attend.

Curating this collection from the Museum’s Collections is a diverse set of folks in our region, and this new exhibition spans many generations, featuring vintage toys like paper dolls, Erector Sets, and Mr. Potato Head to Gen X favs like Holly Hobbie and Hot Wheels, to a newer generation with iconic names like Super Mario or My Little Pony. 

You will also get to see how Barbie and G.I. Joe have adapted over time to appeal to many different generations as well as the times. But one thing remains: their appeal to entertain children.

As you view this collection, you will also see how these toys and games have really changed over time, but our desire to harness these items for the imaginative play (thankfully) never seems to go out of style. 

“Visitors will remember their favorite toys from childhood, as well as make new memories with their family, friends, and classmates,” says Kate Kocienski, vice president of marketing & PR at the GRPM. "The exhibit is meant to spark intergenerational conversations about the importance of imagination and play, and how toys have changed over time.” 

Museum members have the first chance to experience TOYS! on Saturday, October 27 during the members-only preview from 8 to 10 a.m. Members can RSVP to the members only preview at grpm.org/Toys. TOYS! will be included with general admission into the Museum.
1963 Articles | Page: | Show All
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