G-Sync

The pressure to pick the last event of the year to celebrate is always tricky before we go on our holiday. But this year I decided to take a bit of a turn into a new lane. Rather than share what has typically been a list of parties to consider attending (and thus running the risk of offending friends who are either producing competing NYE events or simply view this as “amateur’s night,” thus choosing to sit the night out), I will say that the best event is the one that you are attending this year. Since 2013 was a very diverse one with plenty of highs and lows, let’s go ...
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Within the history of Art, whether it be a painting, a play or a piece of music, there are many great examples of works of art considered controversial at the time of their creation. Only later do we discover they’re actually turning points in our human consciousness on a topic or theme being explored via that particular artists’ contribution. Actors’ Theater Grand Rapids, founded in 1980, was born out of the needs in our community to showcase emerging works of art that often had difficulty finding a place on an area stage. Looking back at their programming, sometimes it is ...
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It is hard to imagine that just four weeks ago the 2013 holiday artists’ market season kicked off and this weekend we are beginning to see it come to a close. But before you think about stopping your quest for the perfect locally crafted gift, there is one more exciting event that should be on your list of stops this Saturday. While others might be happy to pony up to the mall buying a mass-produced gift wrapped in plastic, the Avenue for the Arts annual Urban Lights is one of the longest-running and very best shopping experiences that will hit every single button with such incredible ...
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If you have not had your fill of holiday programming just yet, then you must dash through the snow to enjoy the powerful voices of the West Michigan Gay Men’s Chorus (WMGMC) who are celebrating their fifth annual holiday concert, Let It Ring! Let It Swing! Let It Snow! The WMGMC concerts are always a roller coaster ride to hear and see on stage, with the men (and the occasional female guest vocalist) taking you on a soul-stirring journey with moments of humor and delight via the musical selections they showcase. For this holiday concert they are celebrating the very popular emotion of ...
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The city is lucky to have so many sporting teams and opportunities to compete, but one area in which we really should be especially proud is the arrival and growth of our local Grand Raggidy Roller Girls team, who formed in 2005, the very same year that 29 other teams did as well, to launch of the WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association). Today WFTDA’s membership boasts more than 200 international teams. This Saturday we welcome the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes to the track for a double header, but it also signals the return of the 6th annual Grand Raggidy Roller Derby Girls Beer ...
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Part two of Rapid Growth’s showcase on the beautifully small and institutionally solid artists-focused markets continues over the next two weeks with a host of wonderful events for you to consider visiting. Starting off the weekend is the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts Holiday Artists Market (or HAM to insiders) which will be celebrating their 25th anniversary of hosting this event. This curated collection of gifts and fine art allows you to quickly check off your list with some amazing finds that will make you a star in your home and with local artists. In addition, you can ...
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There seems to be a bit of a printing revolution going on in the city and it is the beautifully small addition of area print shops -- from Issue Press to those who showcase these creations like Have Company -- that are turning heads in our region and outside it. Joining the ranks of this swell is Gaspard Gallery who’ll be showcasing the new release of one of its artists, photographer Chris Cox, whose new book Beholder is released on Friday night. This new book from Cox follows much of the same path of his, previous one, Spiritual Lake, in that proceeds from the book sales help fund the ...
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America loves a good soulful story, though often times we feel like those live acts with a authentic blues story are a thing of the past. That’s until you meet Charles Bradley – a singer popping into town for a show that is sure to be one for the ages when you consider his past and current rise in the arena of live music. Here is a man who, as outlined in the documentary Charles Bradley: Soul of America, overcame homelessness and an extreme illness, witnessed the murder of his brother, and is here to use art as a conduit to share his insights from the years. Bradley is on Daptones ...
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Each Tuesday Bar Divani offers up a special night of a female vocalist in their intimate setting. This Tuesday you better get there early if you want to get a seat because this place will be packed as two powerful musicians in our community join up for a night of music. When vocalist Molly Bouwsma Schultz (of Blue Molly) & singer/songwriter Ryan K Wilson meet up at Bar Divani they will be bringing in a night of classics -- and many of them in a fresh new set of jazz clothing. Eschewing the trappings of most jazz artists, these two push the envelope, taking these songs on a journey and ...
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International Wine, Beer & Food Festival: Taste Michigan + More

Thursday, Nov. 21, 5-10 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22, 4-10 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23, 12-9 p.m.
This weekend more than 17,000 food and beverage connoisseurs will descend downtown to attend the 2013 Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival at DeVos Place – the Midwest’s largest tasting event. This annual three-day event celebrates its 6th year in the heart of the city and is devoted to presenting not just the fine culinary treats and beverages from Michigan but also showcasing the very best of the world in a very spacious two-acre space filled with merchants, chef-prepared small plates food stations, and plenty of cooking demonstrations. In addition to the ...
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The list of holiday artist markets takes some navigating these days and the granddaddy of them all kicks them off. It just so happens to be one I count myself lucky enough to be a part of each year since I joined more than 8 years ago. When Tanglefoot 22 debuts this weekend, it is so much more now than just another holiday artists market but a chance to secure a look into the inner workings of the city’s longest-running open studio event. I will be joining this group of more than 20 artists of all shapes, sizes, nationalities, gender, and even ages as Tanglefoot 22 is transformed into ...
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In 2013 our local roller girls league team did something that no one thought was possible and a handful of you noticed: They became, at the end of their last season, ranked as number 40 in the world standings as they headed into the playoffs. Sitting next to big names like New York, London, and Chicago, our very own Grand Raggidy Roller Girls’ All Stars, as members of the international Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), had finally trained and played hard enough to break into this elite ranking and one of the smallest cities to be admitted to this prestigious club. They ...
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On Saturday people hoping to better adopt the DIY or the DIT (as in Do It Yourself or Together) lifestyle will want to attend the 3rd annual Sass Fest, an event curated by Have Company’s Marlee Grace. This two-hour event harnesses the same delicate (but no less powerful) style of the Have Company shop, as Grace has created an event that mixes in instruction with presentations from folks she thinks are some of the most inspiring people in our region. Each year the goal of Sass Fest has always been to provide people with techniques to produce handmade goods, but most importantly to inspire ...
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Kindertransport: Remembering to Prevent

Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15-16 & 21-22, 7:30 p.m. (Matinee: Sunday, Nov. 17 & 23, 2.p.m.)
There are two ways of dealing with a tragedy, in my opinion. We either stick our heads in the sand until it (or the discussion of it) passes or we can choose to address it and begin to understand its deeper meaning. When dealing with the systematic extermination of the Jews and other groups singled out for removal and ultimately death, I would like to think that we will always find room to discuss one of history’s darkest hours openly. It's important that each generation provides an opportunity to share these stories in the hopes of not repeating them. To commemorate the 75th ...
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I will probably go to my grave as one of the few gay men who has not seen The Sound of Music. Sure, I know all the moves, from the twirling on a mountaintop in the Alps to a truly animated re-styling to the lyrics of “Doe a deer, a female deer.” It is so fixed in our cultural memory that it is a true shock to learn of others who, like me, have not seen it for a host of reasons. From my friends who do know the film and often remark how I would love the story, Civic Theatre’s director and company make a compelling case with this production as to why it should be at the very top ...
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Chris Eckman: Punk to Grunge to Roots Blues

Saturday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. Concert, Sunday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m. (Lecture)
Music lovers rejoice because the Duncan Littlefair Great Speaker Series' newest addition is all about the power of music -- and this time it is about the punk, the rare and the to-be-discovered. And all of this could only be told through the musical work (both on-stage and off) of musician and producer Chris Eckman. Here in Grand Rapids, there are two nights of unique programming waiting for you. When Eckman arrives in Grand Rapids on Saturday night, it will not be just as a member of the Subpop act, The Walkabouts, but also as a solo artist in support of his forthcoming release ...
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“I love to crunch data,” says Well House Executive Director Tami VandenBerg as she leaps in with both feet to explain the inspiration for a different kind of event at Well House. And while I firmly understand that this is the second time in a row that The Well House has appeared in G-Sync, I think, given the events of the last week, we need to seize this moment. In the week after a Rob Bliss-directed video for Degage debuted and went viral, we need to discuss not what millions of YouTube hits means for our budding auteur, but rather what it means to the those living on the street, ...
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Harmony in Stone: Native American Heritage Month

Opening Reception, Nov. 7, 5:30 p.m. (reception) 7 p.m. (artist talk)
There will be no shortage of events commemorating the legacy and impact of Native Americans on our society as scores of organizations in our region seek to create programming celebrating Native American Heritage Month. But for me, there is a very special place for the work of Grand Rapids artist Jason Quigno, whose 3-D works will be the subject of the exhibition Harmony in Stone - a thrilling exhibition of his sculpture opening this weekend in Muskegon. Quigno works with the medium of stone, which morphs under his hands from a static, unyielding form into an object of striking beauty that ...
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Having watched a friend battle leukemia many years ago, I know firsthand the importance of having a very strong support system around the patient. And for those who do not have a support system, it is nice to know that organizations like the Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan, whose newest regional office was opened in downtown Grand Rapids this past May, are committed to providing compassionate and personalized support to people in Michigan affected by leukemia and other related diseases. And while they hosted a “signing our lease” party last March before opening ...
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How does the joke go again? Four graduates of Calvin College walk out on the stage….and how much beer is left in the green room at the end of the show? Ok, so maybe the stereotypes of the past are shaking up with each passing year. And if that's true (and I think it is), then we can thank local comic groups like Pop Scholars for their contribution of sacrificing more sacred cows on stage than in all of the entire Old Testament. Pop Scholars, comprised of improvisational comics Matt Sterenberg, Dave Lyzenga, Andy Allen and Mike Ryskamp, simply put on a bloody good show. In keeping ...
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The concept of food justice is a phrase tossed around these days in many circles, from the foundation committee room to our neighborhood community centers to even our pubs. But for many who may be scratching their heads or simply seek to know more about what exactly this concept means through the local lens, the Well House’s How To Design Your Urban Garden Space planning event is just the ticket to creating change in action. On Monday night people are encouraged to attend and bring images or drawings of their home space so that staff members at the Well House can assist in helping them ...
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Sitting in the Wealthy Theatre’s Koning Micro Cinema earlier this week as Mosaic Film Experience unspooled their Top 6 award-winning films, it was hard not to get a bit excited to share via social platforms what we witnessed on the big screen as members of the media were invited to see first-hand the 2013 award-winning works before they will be announced this weekend. In short, these are six solid works of cinema art from high school and college students that are going to inspire you for a diverse set of reasons. At one point in one of the films, I applauded loudly in reaction to what ...
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After its beginning in 1998 at the San Francisco Opera, the classic Tennessee Williams’ 1947 Pulitzer Prize winning play and film of the same name, "A Streetcar Named Desire" – a new opera, will finally arrive in Grand Rapids after a rapturous run in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. When it arrives at DeVos Performance Hall it will be celebrating its Michigan premiere as it bypasses Detroit for a Grand Rapids debut. For many years folks have been clamoring for a modern opera to make its way here. After a run of the classics, Streetcar in this new format is true to the ...
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In 2011 I wrote, “before there was ArtPrize, SiTE:LAB, ArtPeers, ActiveSite, (the) Avenue for the Arts and a host of other art-themed events held in raw spaces or places of business, there was the Free Radical Gallery (FRG) event.” FRG began as the brainchild of East Hills neighborhood resident Mark Rumsey and sought to bring attention to the empty store fronts of Wealthy Street neighborhoods by asking landlords to open their walls and storefront windows to artists who would inhabit the space for a one-night-only art show. In those days securing space was not a problem, but as ...
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The issue with most artists markets these days is that you are never quite sure what to expect. That is, to say the least, a wonderful compliment as to why we need to be explorers of our own culture. The same is true of the 5th Annual Recycled Art Market, whose Facebook event page does a great job of showcasing the work coming to the event. This year’s market at their new location on 1720 Plainfield Ave NE – the new home of Grand Rapids City High school – has many exciting items in store for you. Each year the organizers do a great job of ensuring that no one style is ...
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Office for Public Culture: The Artful Twofer

Thursday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m. (KCAD) / Friday - Saturday, Oct. 25 - 26, 10 a.m. (GRAM)
Fresh off the heels of ArtPrize comes a stunning series of Office for Public Culture (OPC) events made possible due to an incredible collaboration with local, regional and international partners to achieve what I believe to be one of the highlights of our fall contemporary arts schedule. As reported in G-Sync in the past and as reflected in the journals, magazines and books on contemporary art, the very way we define art is once again undergoing an exciting transformation and its impact could literally change the world. On Thursday night Kendall College of Art and Design’s Federal ...
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When AIGA West Michigan (AIGAWM) launched at the JW Marriott, I think all of us expected something truly remarkable from our design community, but to be honest, when I walked in that room to see every seat taken in the ballroom and standing room only, I knew they had started something that was long past due. Up until that launch, they were connected as a community to the state chapter but rarely got to break out --until that moment. Ever since, they have produced one event, lecture, party, and learning session after another that inspires our design community in ways we may never be able to ...
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Taking a break from the too-many-to-count October festivals in our city, the folks at BarFly Ventures are hosting a fall version of their Irish on Ionia party with a nod to the electronic music scene of West Michigan as they debut Halloween on Ionia. BarFly and McFadden’s Irish Saloon will stage their event on Ionia Avenue between Weston and Oakes Streets to host its massive street party. The first 1,000 individuals who download the new HOI2013 App on iTunes or Google Play and complete their ticket purchase will receive a VIP wristband. These mristbands will garner the ticket holder ...
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Joint ventures between arts organizations are nothing new. In fact, it happens more often these days in places as far off as Los Angeles, whose most recent large scale and very ambitious Pacific Standard Time exhibition devoted more than a year to showcasing across multiple venues California’s contribution to the art world. Even our local Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) and Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) partnered in early 2013 to present Graphic Design: Now in Production. It was so large in scale that it had to be split between their two exhibition spaces just to get the show ...
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Beer City Party (Park) & Midtown on Tap

(Riverside Event) (Thursday, Oct. 17, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.), (Midtown) Saturday, Oct. 19, 2 - 10 p.m.
Riverside Park / Midtown Green, 753 Fountain St. NE
What a relief after all the big ticket beer affairs attached to eateries and vast spaces converted into a Mecca to Michigan Beer to have an opportunity and within days of each other to celebrate the joys of our craft beer movement in a style totally fitting of its roots. To have two big events focused on builidng up our community is truly remarkable and worthy of our winning Beer CIty USA  title. For Thursday night’s Beer City Party in the Park at Creston’s Riverside Park, fans of Michigan beer are invited to swing by their favorite brewery to fill up or purchase a growler on their ...
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Zoo Goes Boo

Opening Friday, Oct. 15, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Growing up when I did it always seemed a waste that we would go to such trouble to design a costume for Halloween to have it be over just a few hours after you put the costume on and headed out the door. More than 20 years ago, John Ball Zoo figured out that kids and families enjoyed extending the fun of this season and created its wildly popular Zoo Goes Boo – a dress up event at the zoo. Over the course of the event kids are free to roam about in trick or treat celebration with a zoo’s touch with an emphasis on goofy and not spooky. The favorite activities are returning like the ...
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After a long run of high profile and concept contemporary exhibitions at the GRAM, I am sure it is a breath of fresh 18th century air for many to see this impressive collection of American paintings arrive in Grand Rapids by way of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It is not a bad thing that our contemporary run came to an end; in fact it is quite impressive when you see the roster of paintings and the artists who created them. Masterpieces of American Landscape Painting begins visually with works rooted in Romanticism (early 1800s) and travels over time to the early works of Modernism ...
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There are many products by which a city is remembered or recalled. We have had our share of chairs that travel about the world today; we even have had our share of Amway salesman jokes (although this one tends to be reserved these days for audiences like the aging David Letterman and his sect.) But one reputation that is carried forward is that which we crate by what we do and not just make happen. This is true of Thriller! Chiller! Film Festival who this year will be in the unique spot of presenting one of the most advanced film festivals of our region with solid critical approve for their ...
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Anyone who says that I’m not a fan of a kid-themed event has clearly never interviewed my nieces or nephews ...or even their kids now. I love a well-planned event devoted to lighting up their imaginations but one that instills a greater sense of community in our adults, too. East Hills Council of Neighbors welcomes its first Kids Day event at Congress Elementary – a result of a conversation between board members Ryan VanderMeer and Elizabeth Hoffman-Ransford a few months prior as to how few children’s events are happening in our city’s neighborhoods. This rain or shine ...
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“Harvest Party is my absolute favorite beer day of the year,” says Joey Basch, Entertainment Coordinator at Founders Brewing Company that is celebrating the 10th annual Harvest Party on Saturday, “Not only does this annual event commemorate the release of Harvest Ale, our wet-hopped ale…it’s also a true celebration of American hops!” And according to Basch and other brewers connected to Founders, this is quite frankly going to be Harvest Ale's best year ever! “Basically, since it took two weeks to brew enough Harvest Ale to satisfy demand, we used ...
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Over the last few years, our local Tribute Show music series – a nod no doubt to New York’s iconic Loser’s Lounge concert - has asked area musicians to cover songs by a particular artist in a concert format, offering up free interpretation of the works in a one-night-only showcase of our area's talent. And as always, the bands did so to raise funds for a good cause in our community. The success of this platform locally spurred another interesting offshoot in programming, with the arrival of the album live concert format. In this incarnation, our area musicians formed a ...
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The best part of this time of the year is the heightened sense of mystery that is built into all our area’s events as they get closer to Halloween. Keeping with this tradition is the "mysterious on purpose for a purpose" event, The Captain’s Affair, a debut fundraiser for the Creative Youth Center, and organization whose focus is “to prepare kids for life’s adventures by supporting their writing and amplifying their voices.” They offer children a chance to become published authors and assert their identity while building confidence in their writing in an ...
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In one of the nicest additions to come out of the Avenue for the Arts after years of events and leadership from Dwelling Place’s Jenn Schaub, a new generation of leaders is emerging and adding to the steadily growing list of activities happening on the Avenue for the Arts. A group of shop owners and galleries has recently committed to a six-month experiment of hosting an area-wide neighborhood business project called First Friday. The event, which launched in September, seeks to engage the downtown crowds with an area that lots of folks sometimes view as a problem area. (It’s ...
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Bassnectar: Come Join The Party

Saturday, Oct 5, 6:30 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. concert
The last time that Bassnectar performed in Grand Rapids was in 2010 and he packed the Intersection Lounge to capacity, selling out the venue. As the house lights came up, I met back up post-concert with the promoter, who said, “I hope you enjoyed the show because this is probably the last time he will be able to play here.” When I inquired as to what he meant by that, he informed me that this act is growing at meteoric pace. And he was correct in that Bassnectar has since taken his visually rich, electronic dance music-fueled act to every continent but Antarctica. So why the ...
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The future of our city will be meaningless if we forget the past. Nowhere in our city is the mission to recall our history given more importance than the Grand Rapids Historical Society – a society which hosts an ongoing lecture series featuring individuals from our community who have researched a topic and created a presentation for the public. While the topics are diverse in scope, the GRHS has touched on subjects ranging from our vanished train stations to famous mug shots, and occasionally gives attention to informative place-making activities like how to research your own ...
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The history of music, photography and even the movie musical genre are full of examples of posers who look the part but, upon dropping the needle on the record (or not auto-tuned mic) reveal their real talent is truly skin deep. Pia Zadora, anyone? However, on Sunday night - and on the outskirts of the westside’s Other Wealthy District - sits the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill, who will welcome to their intimate venue the singer Candye Kane. While the name might sound familiar, it could because in the ‘80s Kane was more known for the occasional film that often earned her an X ...
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Each year at ArtPrize new surprises appear in the city, and some of the best ones are those not necessarily created by an artist but by a team of individuals with a commitment to continually upping the ante on the event’s programming. One area that has always delighted many in our city has been the lecture series but, as Kevin Buist, ArtPrize’s Director of Exhibitions, points out, this year there are some important changes and a new, purrfect addition. “The ‘Can Art Save Cities?’ panel, which is kind of the centerpiece, is designed to question some of the ...
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What’s not to love about Bottom40 – a pop-up dance party event that was born out of a basement in a Eastown house in 2006 and has been booty poppin’ the nightclub scene with some of the best smiles a venue could hope for ever since. If you need proof, then just Google them and look at the fun photos from over the years. “Basically, ArtPrize dominates our city and it’s everything people talk about for a few weeks in the fall,” says Bottom40 co-creator Jonathan Bell. “We felt like it was only appropriate to keep the theme going for everyone, so this ...
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Normally our girls would not be too concerned about facing Hammer Time until you look at what is really at stake in the ring this time. They’ll enter Rivertown Sports for the first time since the spring floods that not only destroyed much of their gear but also forced them to relocate as the track has to be rebuilt. The last time our Grand Raggidy Roller Girls faced off in the rink, it was in September 2009. And while they came out on top each time, Hammer City is ranked much farther below our team, which recently was awarded the #40 spot in the world rank of all derby leagues – ...
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It is hard to believe how quickly summer went this year, but for our area Grand Rapids Ballet, over the last four months since they last performed, they have hardly been lounging by the lakeshore reading Balanchine & the Lost Muse: Revolution & the Making of a Choreographer by Elizabeth Kendall. If anything, someone from the Grand Rapids company was probably dancing Balanchine on the water’s edge through the gently blowing beach grasses while bathed in moonlight. Dancers love to dance and in my experience enjoy performing even in the most remote of places. For one night only the ...
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Since 1980, Actors' Theatre of Grand Rapids has provided our region with innovative dramatic productions that are quite often on the cutting edge of what is happening. Its productions encompass not only the American Theatre wing of culture and arts through the subject matter they present, but often also feature award-winning works from those much-lauded playwrights as soon as they become available for regional theatre’s programming. Coming off the heels of a series of historic U.S. Supreme Court cases concerning the nations' LGBT is this timely and dramatic play Love! Valour! ...
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The Pillowman: Murder Mystery Bedtime Story

Opening Thursday, September 19 to Saturday, September 28 (see website)
As an adult, when you revisit any one of the classic bedtime stories from popular childhood authors Grimm, Anderson or Aesop, you have to raise an eyebrow (as I did) as to why we would share such things with children right before we turned them over to the darkness of bedtime. Even I, without kids, have to wonder if these tales of yesterday are suitable for bedtime stories – and, if so, then why we don’t just jump the literature line heading straight to Edgar Allen Poe? Admittedly, what attracted me to the play The Pillowman is not that it is the only play (to the best of my ...
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The organizers of the newest installation of the Duncan Littlefair Great Speaker Series knew when they planned their event that its kick off had to be something truly out of this world to compete with ArtPrize. Sure, the kick off night of the Power of Music, referred to as the “Prologue,” is a free public screening of the very first best picture Academy Award winner Wings (1927), and this silent classic will be accompanied by the original score, Catherine the Great, played on the church’s Austin/Allen Pipe Organ by Dr. Steven Ball – a scholar with extensive study in ...
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Grand Valley State University’s Kutsche Office of Local History has partnered with Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities and other organizations, including the Chicago Young Lords – a historically significant organization that is credited as one of first Latino Civil Rights groups in America – to commence a new year-long program beginning on Monday, September 23. Adopting the Chicago model of capturing the oral history of the Young Lords movement, this one-day kick off event will begin in Grand Rapids at the Cook Library Center with a walking tour of the Grandville Hispanic ...
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On the eve of ArtPrize, many local organizations either brace for the onslaught of competition or dive in full-on and headfirst, hoping a bit of the spillover excitement will come their way. It is no secret that my favorite part of ArtPrize is the speakers arriving in town over the course of the 18-day event, but this year, building on the excitement of their programming, is an independently organized conference from ArtServe of Michigan that opens the weekend prior. Resonant 13 is a Creative Many Statewide Summit that will include leading voices from the Midwest and the nation who are ...
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