G-Sync

The holiday season is a time that we love to entertain and what better way to get a leg up than attending a specialty market that has become one the best local events (outside of the geek love-fest of Grand Rapids Comic Con) happening at DeVos Place. What makes it so much fun but also essential? For starters, in the coming weeks you are going to be faced with the pressure of what to bring to the numerous holiday events that dot our event calendars from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. This 7th year event is the largest wine, beer and food tasting event in the Midwest with more than ...
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Many like to talk about how we need to support area Black-owned businesses but few know where to start. What we are left with in the vacuum is simply more of the same with little change. I’m happy to report that those excuses are beginning to evaporate, and much of this is due to the work of the Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses and their annual Black Market Event. Unlike other markets held around the city, the Black Market Event on Friday night is a chance to browse the numerous booths of businesses and service providers of our region at the GRABB Pop-up Shop and is also the night we ...
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You have a lot of options, and while many will say that the best bet is downtown (and, honestly, it is if you are seeking massive crowds migrating up and down Ionia SW and throughout the connecting streets), but for others it could be a completely different experience you are looking for this night. For those seeking a quieter space to catch up with your mates who are back in the city, the neighborhood pubs are a best bet. But, if you need a place to take your folks – who miss you too – you can have your tag-along, multi-generational experience at  Billy’s Lounge in Eastown, ...
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Referred to as the Gateway to Eastown or the Getaway to East (depending on which way you are heading), Harmony Brewing, nestled on Lake Drive in a former liquor store, is one of the most beautifully small brewpubs of Grand Rapids. Sure they have grown to include the new Harmony Hall on the trendy westside of the city’s Grand River, but this little spot is still a favorite of locals who somehow manage to garner a table during the busiest of times. On Thursday night, in keeping with their ongoing series to spin vinyl records, comes a special edition that is probably going to break all ...
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It is my hope that during our November warm-up you were not found sitting inside. For those who love sports, I am quite certain that if you did venture out and visit any one of the numerous city park basketball courts for an extra pick up game, there were surely plenty of smiles even if you were losing. With each 50-degree day since, it is clear we are at the end of this warm-up. But hoop fans don’t care as this Saturday night is the return of the second season of the Grand Rapids Drive, our National Basketball Association Development League (NBADL or sometimes referred to as the ...
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What make this internationally organized event such a hit with so many all over the world is the fast-paced, any-topic-goes presentation format of a PechaKucha night. Presenters work off the 20x20 format. Each person is asked to prepare 20 slides and talk just for 20 seconds on each one as the story leaps (like clockwork? HAHA) to the next projected image. PechaKucha Night began in Tokyo in 2003 but has since grown to more than 800 chapter cities around the world as citizens take to the stage sharing their passion with a local audience. For Volume Eleven, the Grand Rapids chapter will offer ...
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The joys of living in Grand Rapids are often boundless if you are on the receiving end of such gifts of entertainment. We do have a lot to offer this community. But for any artist within our community, you know that the process of creating in a rapidly advancing city means that at times we may struggle or need to step back and discuss the state of the music here. Luckily for the musicians of our city, there is a new Meet-Up-styled group forming, Let’s Talk GR Music, and it will be one of the first times in a long time that musicians (as well as those who are wanting to join in the ...
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It’s no secret headline that while Michigan sits comfortably nestled between some of the world’s most precious resources of farmland and fresh water, other states and nations do not enjoy this same vantage point. In fact, I might be so bold to say that we take for granted our ease of access to fresh water and food. But maybe not for long, as a new documentary, PlantPure Nation, will showcase once again the need to consider the health benefits, ecological advantages, and economical solutions a plant-based diet can provide. PlantPure Nation is from the production team of Forks Over ...
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Recently I was speaking with a few folks at a local startup incubator and the topic shifted to music. We talked about the changes we’re seeing as a result of the people moving here but also how, with a little effort, one can add more life to their day through the addition of something new. In this example of music, it became clear that, with the democratization of the tools needed to create and support a music business, Grand Rapids was feeling the love as more and more folks come to discover our once-sleepy riverside city. The planners of Lamp Light Music Festival also have figured ...
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It is a rare opportunity to meet Jenn Schaub in her role as an exhibiting artist; far too often, she is quite busy being the guiding and steady hand behind so many events that have been presented over the years on this evolving city street. She is also credited as one of the first artists who helped shape the concept of the Avenue for the Arts. And while many of those folks have moved on to other projects in the years that have followed, Schaub, even after moving to purchase a home in East Hills, still continues to work the street via her position at Dwelling Place. Friday night’s event ...
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A lot of folks will talk about diversity and inclusion and why it is important to our growing city but when it comes to the next steps, vacant faces often accompany vacant seats. Here’s an exception: Over the years, BL²END (Business Leaders Linked to Encourage New Directions) has made it their mission to foster an environment where young professionals of color can grow and belong, and in doing so is changing the trajectory of our local professional community. Wrapping up its freshly launched "Professionally Developing the Next Generation" speaker event series on Monday, ...
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Described as “the one-man band minus the instruments” by Pitchfork, this hard-to-pigeon-hole musician from Flint has achieved a near cult-like status in the music scene. His concerts are best described as experiences of sonic proportions with a dash of early George Clinton theatrics unlike any other you have seen on stage since he was here last. Need proof? Just talk to anyone who happened to stumble upon his unannounced live concert stop at October’s Michigan House venue earlier this month, where the rapper-slash-song stylist from outer space took to the makeshift Ottawa ...
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Grand Rapids Civic Theatre is in the midst of its 90th season as one of the nation’s top community theater organizations and it is time to revisit this local gem. With the addition of the Youth Musical feature Sleepy Hollow, there is not a better time than now to get in the theatre if you are seeking to enhance your Halloween festivities this weekend. What makes this updated version of the popular Washington Irving classic The Legend of Sleepy Hollow so perfect for a modern audience is the present day setting of Halloween night, where a cast of three children are transported back to 18th ...
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Halloween Weekend is a time that puts a lot of pressure on people to get it right, especially if you are the one hosting the party. And while there are plenty of options – from the high-brow, like the Grand Rapids Opera’s Halloween Gala, to the low brow fun of the Stark Turn Players presentation of Halloween: The Musical (parody) of the popular film from the 1980s – for those seeking to keep their party plans larger than life, then the newly expanded Halloween on Ionia will be just the ticket you need to purchase this year. With attendance up by nearly 6,000, the newly ...
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Often when barroom conversation turns to holistic anything, many in earshot begin to roll their eyes back in their head. However, if experience has taught me anything, it’s that the skeptics start to sing a different tune when conventional over-the-counter cures for the winter junk aren’t touching an illness. Suddenly, there’s a new appreciation for holistic health and wellness. So before you catch your first virus of the season, learn from a local treasure. Reminding us that prevention is the best medicine, local author, herbalist, and wellness expert Lisa Rose presents a ...
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You have to admit, even if you do not like comedy, that there is something devilishly fresh about Calvin College inviting the legendary comedy troupe The Second City to the Covenant Fine Arts Center’s stage. When you add to the mix that this is the same Chicago-based improvisational comedy troupe responsible for launching the careers of hundreds of stars like Tina Fey, Jim Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Amy Poehler, and even Joan Rivers, then you know right away this is going to be a wild card night of numerous, thigh-slapping, nose-snorting “I cannot believe they just said ...
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It is mind-blowing when you hear the statistic about Millennium Park, but this Kent County urban parkland is so large, at more than 1,500 acres, that it’s not only one of the biggest in the nation, but it's twice the size of New York’s Central Park. And if you have ever visited New York in the autumn, then you know that New Yorkers love nothing more than to find any excuse to escape to the jewel of their city as the colors of red, yellow and orange usher in fresh and evolving views. Here in Kent County, we often miss the chance to wander in a nearby park, as we often think that ...
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What are you doing on New Year’s Eve? For one lucky contestant of Grand Rapids Big Talent, they can say they’re debuting on the big stage at HOT 104.5 FM’s #NYE Party. But before we get ahead of ourselves, the auditions have to occur -- and on Sunday at the Peter Wege Theatre (home of the Grand Rapids Ballet), the journey to the NYE stage will begin for one lucky talent of our city. Hosted again by the Arena District, the 2015 Grand Rapids Big Talent competition commemorates the 5th time this event has been held in our city and shows no sign of slowing down. Sign up here ...
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I will admit that I have avoided 5x5 for a bit since a) we have covered it (a lot) since it started, and b) we felt that the recent reboot was exciting for some, but maybe not most. Until now. The reboot of the 5x5 Night program under the reins of GR Current / Emerge West Michigan has organizers’ new message of “pitch us something wild, out there, and fun” in full gear. And while the ones who are going up on the block this Tuesday might raise a few eyebrows as oddly familiar or similar to other services already in play with other firms, I am excited about the ones that are ...
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A few years ago I suggested our community consider the joys and benefits of walking in my review of Jeff Speck’s The Walkable City. But beyond just a review, I posed the question: “What would happen if an entire city was engaged in a book club around a topic like creating a walkable city?” While nothing came of it, I was glad to be able to put it out there for discussion. Now, I am not going to attempt to take credit here, but I am going to celebrate that someone has stepped up to create a moment much like what I suggested. But this time instead of a book, it is a film ...
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It is hard not to be out as a geek these days as they have truly inherited the earth, often by creating their own version of it. And this is all part of the charm of the world of visual stories and the comic book in American history. Appearing at this year’s Grand Rapids Comic-Con are Anthony Carrigan (Gotham, The Flash), Caroll Spinney (Sesame Street’s Big Bird), comic book artist Neal Adams, Katrina Law (Arrow, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Starling City), comic character creator Joel Adams (King Of The Hill), Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Katie Cook (My Little ...
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One of the joys of autumn in the Midwest is that we seem to appreciate the last of Michigan’s final bounty a bit more, knowing those mouthwatering, fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes and fire-roasted cobs of corn seasoned with fresh butter, cheese and lime are slowly retreating from view. But before we settle into an endless sea of soups with chunks of potatoes, squash and carrots, a delicious, wet-hopped brew arrives fresh from the field in the form of Founders Brewing Co. The Harvest Party is when Founders shares with the public the first taste of the 2015 harvest of hops. Beer drinkers ...
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It is hard to imagine that just four years ago we did not have an organization that would serve the needs of the young writer. Thankfully, the Creative Youth Center (CYC) was created, enabling our first writing-focused arts organization to not just debut but really flourish in Grand Rapids. After years of producing fascinating collections of fresh literature, this year the CYC debuts a new era of writing with a variety aimed at your funny bone.  The Sketches that Lived is a collection of funny sketches and monologues created by CYC students during their summer workshop led by Calvin ...
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Grand Rapids lost a giant in the LGBTQ community this month when Milt Lenox passed away. Lenox, along with his partner Ed Ladner, were the creators of The Apartment Lounge, a bar but so much more as they provided a safe space for gay men in our community to gather and converse in an era long before the Internet. At 1 p.m. friends and the close-knit family of The Apartment Lounge will lay to rest a giant in our community at the The Guest House of Arsulowicz. During this special luncheon, Milt Lenox will have his day in our city, as Mayor Heartwell will honor him, proclaiming that Thursday, ...
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“Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?” “Dear Diary: My teen angst bullshit now has a body count.”  “Whether to kill yourself or not is one of the most important decisions a teenager can make.” No, these are not quotes from Ryan Murphy’s new hit Scream Queens.  But if these quotes sound familiar  -- and they should, in my opinion -- then you will be happy to learn that they are from a totally awesome (but underappreciated) 1989 film. Heathers is one of the latest cult films to cross over from the silver screen to the Broadway stage with a big ...
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Sometimes the best stories are those that we cannot access or write about but we know happen. So with a most respectable nod and a desire to keep my own head low, please consider this (wonderful) event that allows us unfiltered access to some of the brightest cyber-focused minds on the planet. This is going to be a geek fest of a treat in our city. If you, like me, have been noticing cyber-rights issues emerging from every angle, this is a great place to start your education on this topic. The two-day event will include keynote speakers Kellman Meghu of The Hitch Hikers Guide to Information ...
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There are a lot of events connected to ArtPrize happening in the downtown district, but one in the heart of the city is all its own. And we are better for its offering. Building off a string of education events that have come before, it is the debut of MODUL8, a collective music-focused effort by local champions made up of independent artists with strong credentials in the underground music and counter-culture. On Friday, October 9th at Bar Divani’s Gallery Divani space, locals seeking to deepen their access to fresh beats alongside the debut of eclectic sounds being produced in Grand ...
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It is no secret that one of the reasons the Westside of Grand Rapids is often called the best side is due to its inventory of neighborhood halls devoted to the many cultures that make up this part of the city. And Pulaski Days rules supreme with a parade, partying and, of course, polka dancing. This annual festivities honors the life of General Casimir Pulaski, an American Revolutionary War Hero, who, as a Polish immigrant to our country and even though he born into a noble family, sacrificed his life to ensure that liberty could be established in America. If you are going to march with ...
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Earlier this week, artist Paul Collins addressed the crowd at City Hall’s Calder Plaza, asking them to forget about the politics and just enjoy the art. While it is possible to dispute some of his statement, what’s the point? It is rare that anyone can agree on anything these days -- well, except last year, when ArtPrize’s top two awards from the public and the curatorial side went to the same artist Anila Quayyum Agha for her work “Intersections.” But unbeknownst to many, another artist collective, a staple on the ArtPrize circuit for the last few years now, ...
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Worried that you missed your opportunity to get to Canada’s Stratford Festival to see the world’s greatest performances of Shakespeare? No worries, as Grand Valley State University will host the 22nd annual Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival, Michigan’s oldest and largest Shakespeare Festival, right here this fall. So much more than just a festival, this multi-week event gives you a chance to pace yourself over the next five weeks as you get to attend multiple events beginning October 2 and concluding November 7. What began quite humbly in 1993 has grown to attract 6,000 ...
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Of all the things I got to see over the last week with Pope Francis, I never saw The Holy See interacting with the animals. (I get it; he was busy. But he missed California too, and they could use some rain.) No worries, because locally you will have a chance to correct this fuzzy oversight when Pastor Ginny Mikita of Courtland-Oakfield UMC on the lovely grounds of the Dominican Center’s Francis of Assisi Sculpture Garden presents the a very special Blessing of the Animals event. You don’t have a pet anymore? No worries if you have lost your pet. The organizers ask that you ...
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ArtPrize: Best of the Best Bets

Event Opening: Wednesday, Sept. 23 (through Oct. 11)
ArtPrize may not perform miracles, cure your cold or help you levitate over the crowds to get that unobstructed view of a must-see artwork. But at year seven, it’s still pretty amazing to watch thousands of folks armed with a smartphone line up outside more than 160 venues for the opportunity to play “God of the Art World” and assume the role of art critic. Admit it: if you are like me, the high brow stuff motivates you just about as much as the bat-out-of-hell crazy entries a festival with a big booty so often attracts in this world. G-Sync Event’s recommendations ...
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After the first few days of ArtPrize, some folks are ready for a stiff drink. Before you sit down at any one of our local breweries, which have landed on nearly every corner like a church, consider this: the modern act of legal drinking of spirits, beer, wine in the United States is a phenomenon that is still less than 100 years (legal) old!   Opening to members at the Grand Rapid Public Museum on Friday, Sept. 25, American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition is an exhibit devoted to exploring a modern tradition many now take for granted. This special exhibition will sail through ...
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If you are feeling the void left by the now-defunct dance events of Salmagundi and Trip The Light, then Orbit, an event devoted to the art of modern dance and music, will fill that space when it returns to downtown Grand Rapids’ Heartside neighborhood. Grand Valley State University’s award-winning New Music Ensemble welcomes back to the Peter Martin Wege Theatre Kalamazoo’s Wellspring, Cori Terry, and GVSU dancers in the production Orbit, an original choreographed performance set to an original composition by Bill Ryan. By paring GVSU students with Wellspring, a 34-year-old ...
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I tend to be old school when it comes to books and enjoy simple their pleasures like the act of turning pages and that unique scent of black ink on paper. It simply cannot be replicated on my iPad…yet. However, when it comes to traveling, we often have to decide if we want to pay the extra baggage fee for the books we’re hoping to read while away or seek another “lighter” path. For many on the go, audiobooks are the best way to travel light. In fact, according to the Grand Rapids Public Library, people really L-O-V-E audiobooks, which is why GRPL is hosting Voices ...
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Last year, a tiny festival debut in town and it didn't hit many peoples' radar, but this year it will be much harder to ignore The Big-Little Comedy Festival returning once again to the Dog Story Theater. One obvious reason it is going to be a huge hit is because of the public's renewed interest in comedy thanks to events like LaughFest and the area's comedy club, Dr. Grin's. But I think the real reason is truly because the Dog Story Theater has cultivated some of the best comedic programming in our region for more than three years. The festival is the brainchild of Calvin College graduate and ...
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When Labor Day is over, it becomes abundantly clear that the locals of the Greater Grand Rapids region are not ready to give up the joys of being outside in the sun. Saturday's return of the annual Cottage Bar’s 34th chili cook-off in downtown Grand Rapids from 3:15 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 19, 2015 helps extend the outdoor season. This year's event is sponsored by Founders Brewing Company and will feature 40 different chili entries that will be judged by a panel comprised of area chefs and “foodies” (their word, not mine). To keep the event festive and ...
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After a wildly successful debut year, The Underground Concert Series will begin its second season at East Hills' LaFontsee Gallery on Sunday, September 20 at 3 p.m. Taking a cue from last year's collaborations, LaFontsee Gallery continues its partnership with Blue Lake Public Radio's Lazaro Vega and Adventure Music. Continuing their commitment to present the leading edge in contemporary jazz, the gallery setting will welcome The Chicago Project's cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and drummer/percussionist Michael Zerang. Joining the ensemble will be saxophonist/bass clarinetist ...
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Autumnal Respire: A New Destination for Art

Friday, Sept. 16, 5-10pm and Saturday, Sept. 17, 4-10pm
One thing that is very certain in Grand Rapids is that events do indeed have a life cycle and not all events get to go on indefinitely. Destination 1111, an event unknown to many of us, was already on its way out some time ago when the organizers realized their event was a great place to party, but the mission of selling and connecting with collectors had fallen off the radar. So rather than close up shop and move on, the artists of this popular destination fine-tuned their space and were reborn as the Artists Collective at 1111. The result of this rebranding has meant that the spaces have ...
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A live, large salsa band is a rare sighting locally when you consider the costs it takes to bring such an act to the stage (and pay them for their contribution). But when you are the downtown’s -- heck, the Midwest's -- beer Mecca for the faithful, then it becomes a bit easier to bring in such big acts. Never shying away from bigness these days, Founders' Taproom welcomes in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month our very own Los de Afuera for an early evening live music event complete with dancing. Started by President Johnson, National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated ...
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In 2010, I posed this question: What would our community look like if we not only embraced its artists, but also actively sought to promote the commerce (and good) these activities can bring for the artists' benefit? And the answer is, still three years running, ArtPeers' annual Fall Festival. While their annual festival spans over many days, the one event that really feels like a homecoming celebration for the local arts community and those who love and support local artists is the annual Salmagundi event held each year at Wealthy Theatre. Salmagundi refers to a 17th Century food dish created ...
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Eastown Street Fair: Neighborhood Rally Time

Saturday, September 17, 9 AM – 8:30 PM (also until 2 AM at Billy’s Lounge)
Last weekend as I wandered Detroit's Cass neighborhood's Dally in the Alley, I kept saying, "Wow, this is great," but never did I say, "Grand Rapids needs one of these." We have our own local street fair and it is just as grand, in my opinion. The 38th Annual Eastown Streetfair is this Saturday and it is going to be huge, as nearly 100 vendors will create the ultimate neighborhood street party again in Grand Rapids' answer to New York's East Village. Staring at 9 a.m., this annual celebration of art, creative commerce, food and music will electrify Wealthy Street. Over the day and into the ...
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ArtPrize: Seventh Heaven (or Hell?)

Event Opening: Wednesday, Sept. 23 (through Oct. 11).
Here's the thing: We are at the point now that when someone says ArtPrize there are enough possible reactions that we really need a Kinsey-like scale to measure one's place on the spectrum. For some it is like the seventh coming of Christ if you close your eyes and listen to the passion in their voices. For others,, it seems to trigger a long list of grievances (some good, some just overused/worthless). And that is the beauty of the festival because just as it is in the “art world,” the diversity of opinions that ArtPrize unleashes locally is not much different than, ...
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Due to the scale of ArtPrize I have decided this week to add two events along the lakeshore for your consideration. First on Friday night, September 16, is Downtown Holland's annual Live Mannequin Night event where your favorite TV shows comes to life via their storefront windows. "It has been really fun working with the merchants this year because of the theme," said Cynthia Hagedorn, event coordinator for Live Mannequin Night. "TV offers such a wide range of possibilities and I am seeing a few twists this year. Each business embraces the concept more and more every year and as a result the ...
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Paul Schrader: Past is present (again)

Thursday, Sept. 3, 7:00 p.m. (lecture), Friday, Sept. 4, 9 a.m. (workshop)
It isn't every day that aspiring, local filmmakers have the opportunity to listen to a legend of American cinema speak on his career in film. And to have the opportunity to attend a workshop with that legend the next day is almost unheard of.   But that is what we get when Paul Schrader, former Grand Rapidian and award-winning screenwriter/director of such films as Taxi Driver, Hardcore, Raging Bull, American Gigolo, and Light of Day arrives in Grand Rapids. What many newer residents may know is that this visual studies artist is one of the most celebrated and awarded graduates of Calvin ...
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Not sure what to do with yourself or the kids on this last weekend before most return to focus on education matters? Then it might be a great time to consider taking those young and eager minds to the Grand Rapids Mini Maker Faire held at the Grand Rapids Public Museum and Grand Valley State University's Pew campus. If you have never been to a maker event, this one is a smaller-scaled event compared to the larger ones organized around the world. Focusing on the next generation of makers, it gives a nod to the use of innovation and engineering to create something new. Our local fair ...
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ArtPrize's website lists the mission's core for why they are doing what they are doing in Grand Rapids. It's to: "Be a catalyst for collisions and connections between artists and communities, for the sake of infusing vitality and courage into culture. Our mission begins with the value that art is important." And while many have formed opinions about ArtPrize over the past few years, it is an event that cannot be ignored. Or to paraphrase Howard Zinn, "You can't be neutral (about ArtPrize) on a moving train," especially when you consider how much it not only dominates the physical makeup of our ...
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Blending the traits of creative invention, design thinking, environmental awareness, and community engagement is a brand-new event from the innovative mind of the artist Kelly Allen, who has long entertained and thrilled art enthusiasts with her art contributions and community support. Allen, the creator of the local WiseMaker Creative Reuse Store and Studio, won a grant to present the WiseMaker Arts in Sustainability Parade. It debuts with more than 70 participants, led by a group of 12 artists who have been working as teams to create floats, costumes, giant puppets, and kinetic sculptures ...
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For the third Live Artfully Dinner, the Grand Rapids Art Museum has chosen to honor Kate Pew Wolters, a member of our community who has enacted key developments within the arts culture of our city over the years. In addition to her work over the decades at the GRAM, Kate – as locals refer to her -- has devoted her focus to key organizations like UICA as well as exciting new projects like this year's debut of the disability arts-focused event, DisArt Festival. At this special gathering, Kate will be honored for her longstanding and personal commitment to advancing the arts at ...
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Red: Inside Rothko's studio/mind

Opening Night Thursday, Aug. 27, 8:00 p.m. (through Sept. 5)
Collaboration in the arts is something that plays out in the work itself as well as in how the work is produced. The magic of such collaborations is apparent as we approach the 3rd season of Actors' Theatre of Grand Rapids' Second Space Series, which is producing Red – a theatrical work about an artist and his studio assistant.   Red is a theatrical work that looks at the life of Mark Rothko on the occasion of one of his big commissions with New York's Four Seasons Restaurant. It is presented at the intimate Dog Story Theater with the Mixed Roots Collective working closely ...
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