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Police officers and Hispanic community team up: Soccer as neighborhood building

While the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) has hosted many community events over the years, I’m hard pressed to find one as inspiring as this one.

On Saturday, a special sporting event will be held at MacKay Jaycees Park on the southside of the city. As reported in Rapid Growth recently, “The beautiful game that's bringing Grand Rapids neighborhoods together,” soccer is proving to be a great unifier of communities. 

For this special match, two teams made up of the GRPD and Latinx community members will take to the field for a special scrimmage match.

This soccer match is the brainchild of La Mejor GR radio personality Chuy Morales who, along with GRPD Chief David Rahinsky, created this festive, first-time event. 

This free match is sure to attract not just soccer enthusiasts but also our Hispanic community members, GRPD supporters, and all Grand Rapidians who are up for a real game changer. Free food and beverages will be provided to spectators as well as participants. Spectators should plan on bringing chairs or blankets to watch the game.

For more details on this special match, please visit their Facebook event page.

Grand Rapids Film Festival Spotlight: What is possible from the mitten state

Friday, Oct. 13, 6 - 10 p.m. (rain date Saturday, October 14)
Michigan has a lot of creative talent and one area where we are really beginning to flex our muscle is within the filmmaking community.

Showcasing the works of our state’s filmmakers and those fans of this art form is the Grand Rapids Film Festival who, since 2009, has aimed according to its website is “to increase regional access to and overall production of quality films that provide meaningful, constructive and encouraging entertainment while harnessing the transformative power of film.”

Making good on the festival’s pledge to provide more space for such celebrations of Michigan film comes their Spotlight event, which is a socially-driven community event happening on Friday, Oct. 13. 

Presented by the Michigan Film and Digital Media Office, Spotlight’s free outdoor cinema will feature two Michigan filmmakers—the winners of the April Festival’s Best Michigan Feature and Short.

Opening the night’s film program will be Jason Honeycut’s 14 minute short, “Supermom.” The film tells the story of a daughter who believes her mother to be a real-life super hero, something that the film convincingly leads us to believe might just be right. It stars Justine Herron ("Kevin Hart - Let Me Explain") and John Hensley (lead of "Nip/Tuck," "Teeth," "Hostile III”).

The main feature at Spotlight is “Something Fun” a film from University of Michigan graduate Chad Rhiness. In the film, Veronica Atburn returns to her hometown after a year of traveling the United States, reunites with her high school friends, and forces everybody to stop rehashing the past and start doing something fun.

Spotlight is free to the public, but if you want to enjoy a beer from Brewery Vivant or something to nosh on from Blue Spoon’s food truck, then bring your wallet. And while the film program begins at dusk, arrive early to enjoy a live DJ, interactive games, a photo booth, or just chill around the fire. Be sure to pack chairs or blankets for this special outdoor screening event.

Filmmaker Adam Khalil: Redefining the narrative

While there is no shortage of visual media these days as streaming services penetrate our phones, tablets, laptops, and even our TV screens, finding content that challenges the very structure of narrative or documentary filmmaking is often a rarer breed. 

Lucky for local fans of documentary filmmaking comes a film from a man with roots in our state who is on the road this fall screening his latest work, "INAATE/SE/ [it shines a certain way. to a certain place./it flies. falls./]”, to Wealthy Theatre.

The story of "INAATE/SE/ [it shines a certain way. to a certain place./it flies. falls./]" re-imagines the Seven Fires Prophecy, an ancient Ojibway story that is being discussed more and more within contemporary circles. Within this film the structures of time are not subjected to European culture’s presentation, instead the film is a kaleidoscopic experience for the viewer as Khalil blends documentary, narrative, and experimental filmmaking as the linear is disrupted, creating what is best described as a story that crosses from filmmaking to art. 

From the film's Vimeo page, "INAATE/SE/” employs "acute geographic specificity, and grand historical scope, the film fixes its lens between the sacred and the profane to pry open the construction of contemporary indigenous identity."

“'INAATE/SE' is a truly unique film that affirmed and disrupted my knowledge of Native Americans,” says Grand Valley State University Professor of Visual Studies and Foundations’ Paul Wittenbraker,  “It resonated with me as a settler person who lives in a richly indigenous place.”

This special program, the first for the newly formed Department of Visual and Media Arts at GVSU, will include the screening of "INAATE/SE/” followed by a discussion with local artists Shane McSauby, Kay Mayer, and Krzysztof Lower, who are all part of the curatorial team who have brought this film to our city.

In addition, if you enjoyed the film or just couldn't make Sunday’s screening, Khalil will be at GVSU’s Allendale campus as a part of the university’s Visiting Artist Lecture Series. Check their Facebook event page for all the details including directions to the lecture.

Wicked: Three weeks under a spell from Oz

Opening Thursday, Oct. 19, 7:30 p.m. (through Nov. 5.)
After years of dreaming this day would arrive, finally the smash Broadway production of “Wicked” arrives in Grand Rapids for a fun-filled three weeks, making this one of the biggest and longest running touring shows to arrive in our city. 

For those who have been living under a rock the last few years, “Wicked” is a musical that tells the story of “The Wizard of Oz’s" Glinda the Good and Elphaba, who in this production is a young, green girl who will go on to become the Wicked Witch of the West. 

This family-friendly and visually stunning musical pre-dates the popular film “The Wizard of Oz,” so don’t look for Dorothy or her little dog, too.

What you will get is a true Broadway spectacular, which has won many awards but even more hearts. There are many show-stopping moments but the chance to see the thrilling “Defying Gravity" in our town is sure to take your breath away at DeVos Hall.

But don’t delay purchasing tickets, since “Wicked” has nearly sold out its entire three week run in our city.

If you would like a peek into the world of Oz as seen in "Wicked", please visit this link for a special preview of the show. 

Detroit 67: Reimagining the riots of 1967 with a familiar beat

Opening Friday, Oct. 6, 7:30 p.m. (through Sunday, Oct. 14, 3 p.m.)
It is hard not to reflect on progress or the lack of as we approach the local debut of “Detroit 67” the Ebony Road Players, whose latest production will be held at the nomadic by design SiTE:LAB’s latest home/venue on Franklin Street. 

It has been fifty years since the 1967 riots in Detroit and over the last few months, the Motor City has commemorated this time period in our state’s history with gallery shows and tributes.

Now locally comes a special two weekend performance of the play “Detroit 67” by Dominique Morisseau and helmed by first time Director Amisha Groce.

The play is the story of a party that stalls when a stranger appears inside a basement underground joint where Chelle and her brother Lank are running like a classic Detroit side hustle. 

With the rioting happening above ground, "Detroit 67" builds like a sitcom of the era as the story unfolds. Another device used in the play to propel it forward is the music of Motown used here in a manner that creatively adds a fresh perspective to these songs. 

“Detroit 67” is the winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History and is presented locally by the Ebony Road Players whose mission according to their website is "to inspire, educate and engage cultures of our community with high-quality theater productions focused on the Black experience."

Please check the ticket site for availability. 

From Russia With Love: Ballet’s legacy behind the iron curtain on stage in Grand Rapids

Opening Friday, Oct. 6, 7:30 p.m. (through Friday, Oct. 13)
While Russia dominates the news these days with talks of hacking and the tampering of the 2016 election, many folks may not know the huge debt the arts owes the Russian people who have given us some of the world's greatest works of art from fine art to theater to dance. 

Playing to that deep Russian legacy comes a special night of dance from the Grand Rapids Ballet featuring four one act ballets including “Flames of Paris Pas de Deux,” “Raymonda Pas de Dix,”  “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux,” and “Giselle Act II.”

This special program is also a chance to see one last time dancer Dawnell Dryja Black on stage. Black has performed 15 seasons with our local Grand Rapids Ballet and will be retiring after her final performance on October 13, so do not delay in getting ticket for what will be a thrilling night of Russian Ballet.

For tickets please visit the Grand Rapids Ballet's website

Animal Blessing 2017 in the Garden of St. Francis of Assisi: Furry or not, all welcome

While kitten videos often can change your mood for a few minutes, imagine for a moment what  a live experience for you and your own pets at the annual Animal Blessing at the Dominican Center at Marywood’s Garden of St. Francis of Assisi can do for your weekend.

Known for producing events that are welcoming at the core, this annual Dominican Center service invites animals of all shapes and sizes to attend this blessing. That means expect to see dogs, cats, goldfish, bunnies, salamanders, chickens, hamsters, guinea pigs, and even pot belly pigs who have all graced the event in the past.  

This year, since it is a big game day for Michigan and Michigan State, attendees who are fans of these teams can feel free to dress their pet up in their favorite school coolers. 

Officiating is Pastor Ginny Makita who will be offering a blessing to all pets and attendees…regardless if you brought a pet with you or not. Even if you have recently lost a pet, please feel free to bring a photo of your forever friend to have it blessed, ushering in a layer of comfort for your soul. 

Pulaski Days: We are all Polish this weekend

While the Westside of Grand Rapids is often considered the destination neighborhood for  Pulaski Days due to their inventory of neighborhood halls, you can actually find plenty of stops on the eastside of the city to play this weekend as you partake in all things Polish. 

And when determining where  you will spend your Pulaski Days, you have so many options because this weekend festival spreads all over the city and includes a parade, plenty of Polish cuisine, and of course, polka dancing. 

There are so many options for you to consider that we suggest, before visiting Pulaski Days this year, that you view this easy to navigate guide to help your plan your stops. (Yes, "Stops" plural because there is so many places you will want to visit.) 

The best part, in my opinion, is the chance to tour so many neighborhood halls that are open to the public all weekend, giving this group a chance to showcase the delicious handmade food and raucous music of the Polish people, often led by an accordion.  Let’s Polka!

Salsa Dancing 101: The Armentality way

We all face moments of uncertainty in our lives and the times we most often feel this paralysis is right before we make the leap into something new. So I’m hear to say, “Make a leap because it is good for the soul.”

And that is exactly what I am encouraging you to consider this week, right as we start our weekend.  

On Thursday night, you have an opportunity to add a few new moves to your dance floor repertoire as the Armentality Movement Arts Center invites folks to attend its Salsa Dancing 101 class. 

Salsa, with a history stretching way back to the 19th Century, is a mix of different cultural moves rooted in the Caribbean region. From this humble start it gave birth to the dance forms of Son, Son Montuno, cha cha cha, Mambo, and Puerto Rican bomba and plena.

Your teacher for this introductory Salsa 101 class is Laura Amenta, a dance instructor who is sure to get even the stodgiest of non-dancers up on the floor. 

Amenta reminds us that previous dance experience is not necessary. She encourages you to bring a friend or just arrive solo for the class. Either way is fine, since I know from personal experience with Amenta that she has one of the most loving and encouraging souls I have encountered in this city. 

Cost is just $35 but the ability to learn some sweet new moves that you can bust out on the dance floor is truly priceless. 

Sunset Cruise w/ The Bootstrap Boys

While the city is packed with tourists looking at art in every nook and cranny of downtown Grand Rapids, you have a chance to escape it all…and this Saturday your ticket out is a riverboat docked in nearby Jenison. 

On Saturday at 5:30 p.m., The Grand Lady Riverboat will begin boarding passengers for a special 6 - 8 p.m. sunset dinner cruise with special guest musicians, The Bootstrap Boys. 

The Bootstrap Boys are a popular four-piece country band rooted here in Grand Rapids.  As described on their website, “They’ve been laying down country-fried originals and well curated covers that run the gamut from classic outlaw hits to old cowboy songs, gospel to pop, all in their own Up-North-Down-South style since 2015.”

Admission to the concert on the The Grand Lady is just $15, but if you want to enjoy the dinner being offered on board, it is an additional $13. 

The dinner menu includes grilled beef or veggie burgers, bratwurst, BBQ pulled pork, and hot dogs. They even have a kids menu offering. 

Also on board is both nonalcoholic and alcoholic service for your enjoyment on the river. 

We strongly recommend reservations since this special concert event looks to sell out. Follow this link to book your passage for an inspiring night of music from The Bootstrap Boys. 

Blue Bridge Music Festival: Bringing back the beautiful noise

ArtPrize has plenty of things that you can enjoy at a strolling pace, but sometimes you want to really cut loose. And for those moments there is the return of the Blue Bridge Music Festival held on Friday and Saturday on the historic Blue Bridge.

Like last year, the festival will feature artists from all over the country (as well as many locals) who are competing in ArtPrize Nine via this free festival. 

Sure, most times when you think of ArtPrize, it is natural to pigeonhole it as a festival for what one might call traditional fine art, but as this festival reminds us again in a bold way, music is an art form, too.

Each of the acts are eligible for the ArtPrize Nine public vote competition in the time-based category with the public also invited to cast a vote to award an additional prize: ArtPrize Song of the Year and a $1,000 cash prize courtesy of HopCat.

Here’s the lineup for the Blue Bridge this year: 

Friday 
4 p.m.  Live broadcast on WYCE w/ Quinn Matthews
5 p.m.  yolonda Yogi lavender
7 p.m.  The Bootstrap Boys
9 p.m.  Michigander

Saturday
12 p.m. Live broadcast on WYCE w/ Quinn Matthews
2 p.m.   Brad Fritcher's Moods
4 p.m.   Asamu Johnson and The Associates of The Blues
5:30 p.m. Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish
7 p.m.   Watching for Foxes
8:45 p.m.  The Great Ones: JROB & Lady Ace Boogie

For more details, visit artprize.org/music.

Oktoberfest West Michigan 2017: Chugging towards Munich

Grand Rapids may be Beer City, USA but if my Instagram feed of my friends living now in Munich is an indicator, then Munich is Earth's Oktoberfest City.

But since a trip to Munich may not be in the cards this fall season, you can enjoy the next best thing at the city’s only Oktoberfest held at the westside’s John Ball Park. 

This German-styled "Volksfest," brought to Grand Rapids by our local Edelweiss Club, will feature specialty imported beer on draft, as well as many other German beers and wines. 

Dance to a variety of live acts, from traditional German musicians to modern German pop, featuring special guest artists Ein Prosit German Band, the Oktoben German Band, and many more.  

And if dancing is not your scene, then enter your name in the hat for the various contests of  feats of strength with a stein holding contest (for men and women) or the beer keg toss. Both of these events should be a blast to witness live at the park. 

And should you get hungry, grab some schnitzel and wursts as you enjoy this two-day festival.

The event is free to attend, including access to the festival grounds, music tent, and food vendor area; however, there is a $5 cover for an "over 21" wristband which will be required to drink alcohol at Oktoberfest West Michigan. Proceeds raised this year will be shared with Kids’ Food Basket. 

ArtPrize Nine: Ready or Not….

Wednesday - Sunday, Sept. 20 - Oct. 8
Love it? Hate It? or just ambivalent? Either way, it doesn’t matter because ArtPrize Nine arrives in Grand Rapids from September 20 through October 8 and this year it is bigger than ever.

ArtPrize, an open and independently organized international art competition taking  place each fall in Grand Rapids, awards more than $500,000 in prizes each year.

But ArtPrize is so much more than just the prize money as the city rolls out the red carpet to artists, venues, curators, and educators to welcome their contributions to this annual art competition. 

In addition, ArtPrize offers music events, performance art, a movie series, and a Critical Discourse speaker series, which brings art experts to Grand Rapids to share insights and enable discussions all about art. 

There is even an series of education days where nearly 19,000 PreK-12th grade students from 203 schools in 59 school districts across Michigan attend ArtPrize for field trips and additional learning experiences.

All told since 2009, more than 2.9 million visitors have cast 3.2 million votes as artists from near and far around the world have received $4.1 million in prize money.

So however you choose (or not) to experience ArtPrize this year, just remember there are no shortages of events to sample the many diverse offerings of ArtPrize Nine. 

SiTE:LAB: Opening preview party at their new space

While everyone is dashing around downtown this Friday night, art insiders know that on Friday night is a special kick-off party from one of ArtPrize’s most popular destinations, SiTE:LAB.

But unlike in years past, for 2017 this popular space-bending traveling art event will be sitting out this year’s ArtPrize 9 as they prepare their latest space for their big return in 2018. 

To introduce the public to their new space—a former school and later government facility—  SiTE:LAB is welcoming the public to see the raw space before they embark upon the major work to overhaul this old gem of a building.  

This kickoff party will have plenty of Brewery Vivant beer that you can enjoy as your socialize and dance to the soundscapes crafted by DJ’s SuperDre and the Grand Rapids Soul Club.

For those seeking to drive to the location versus using Uber or Lyft, free parking is located in the NW corner of Madison Ave and Franklin St.

Last month, Rapid Growth celebrated SiTE:LAB’s release of a new book examining the two years they inhabited their Rumsey Street Project, an endeavor made possible through their connection with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County. You can read the essay, “Encounters at Rumsey Street,” by Art Critic Gregory Volk, here.

Landslide: The Music of Fleetwood Mac

Friday - Sunday, Sep. 22 - 24, 7:30 p.m. (doors), 8 p.m. (showtime)
A few years ago, area musicians performed a tribute concert based on the popular album “Rumors” by Fleetwood Mac. Having attended it (and as someone who has seen Fleetwood Mac perform numerous times,) I can with confidence say it was one of my favorite musical experiences in the last decade. 

For starters, this band (and subsequent solo music projects) has not only produced more than 50 Billboard 100 charting songs, but 45 of those songs charted within the Top 40.

And while Fleetwood Mac may have formed in 1967, they are still capturing the imagination of audiences around the world with their music.

On Saturday night comes another opportunity for fans of Fleetwood Mac’s distinct musical style to experience a special concert with tribute band Landside as they take to the DeVos Performance Hall stage with our Grand Rapid Symphony. 

So if you are fans of classics like "Over My Head," "Say You Love Me," “Rhiannon," “Landslide,” and “Tusk,” then get tp this special Pops Concert Series happening Friday through Sunday.
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