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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.

The Underground Series: Jazz artists return to a popular East Hills gallery

Some of my favorite experiences in an art gallery have not just been the viewing of visual art, but how some venues are able to transform their space to host other artistic practices.

LaFontsee Galleries of East Hills is one such place in our city that is expanding our perception of an art gallery as they bring back for the 2018-2019 season a jazz music series with four live concerts held the last Sundays of October, February, March, and April.

For this next season, fans of jazz will have a chance to hear Aretha Franklin’s Drummer, a French Jazz Accordionist, and many other exciting musicians based in New York and Chicago.

The Underground Series is a collaborative effort of the popular gallery and AdventureMusic.org and on Sunday, October 28 at 3 p.m., they will kick the season off with accordionist Julien Labro.

Billed as “Julien Labro and the Chanson Experiment,” this first concert will channel the sounds of the south of France with modernized classic songs from popular artists Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Michel Legrand, Charles Aznavour, and others. It is sure to be an amazing concert filled with something for every Francophile who will venture to East Hills this Sunday.

Also appearing later in The Underground Series is the renowned jazz musician and multi-genre drummer Gayle McKinney of Detroit (Feb. 24, 2019), Chicago saxophonist and bass clarinetist Geof Bradfield (Mar. 31, 2018), and The Alex Harding Organ Trio with special guest J.D. Allen (Apr. 28).

To guarantee a seat at this special kick-off event, please purchase tickets in advance at Adventure Music’s site.

Ana Navarro: Listening to one's lived experience is why this local series is tops!

When we set out to create a list of distinct events to consider attending this next week, GRCC Diversity Lecture Series’ guest speaker tweeted, “A US Permanent Resident was turned into mince-meat by the Saudis. Thousands of Floridians lost their homes, thousands more are without power. And the President of the United States is on Twitter calling one woman, 'Pocahontas', and another one, 'horse-face'. It must be Tuesday.”  

Now before your eyes roll your eyes back in your head, this is a tweet from Ana Navarro who is coming to Grand Rapids and is unabashedly a proud GOP member who is addressing a concern many in the GOP have raised for some time but have not been heard over the noise of our current political climate. 

That is why the GRCC Diversity Lecture Series reminds us of the power of dialogue, but also of giving pause to listen to each other in our communities.

According to the series organizers, “Ana Navarro is a Republican Strategist and a Political Analyst for CNN and CNN en Español. She also is a political contributor on ABC’s ‘The View.’ The Miami New Times named her a ‘Republican power-consultant,’ and the Tampa Bay Times called her ‘a sought-after voice in Republican politics and an adviser for any presidential hopeful.’”

Navarro has served as Ambassador to the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission and has also worked in the private sector, representing private and public clients on federal issues, particularly related to immigration, trade, and policy affecting Central America. 

As always, this popular local speaker series is free to students and the public and is sure to inspire dialogue that can spill over into the various watering holes within walking distance of the lecture series location. 

If you would like to follow Navarro on twitter, follow her at @ananavarro

Brewer's Grove Planting & Party in the Park: Get dirty for community and sip with beer gods

Two things are best enjoyed during October once you give up Halloween for blood sugar health reasons: tree planting and drinking beer in the crisp air.

And lucky for us, the two activities will meet on Friday afternoon in the city of Grand Rapids’ Riverside Park located on the mighty Grand River.

At this special annual Brewer’s Grove Tree Beer(s) event, you will get to assist in planting trees alongside the city’s favorite Grand Rapids Area Brewers.

Many years ago, the Emerald Ash Borer epidemic impacted thousands of trees in our region, including hundreds in Riverside Park. To help restore but also plan for a stronger forest for the future, the community is invited to join these brewers along with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks’ Urban Forest Project to help plant 30 trees.

Since this is an open container event, those who are 21 or older can feel free to bring some beer to share at 3 p.m. when the brewers and tree planters will shift gears to kick back over a cold one.

Over the few hours that follow, brewers and those gathered in this community beautification project will brainstorm and muse on what the tree-themed ingredients and beer could be for the 2019 Tree Beer. (The special citywide release of this annual limited edition beer will be released mid-February, 2019.)

7th annual Zombie Dash 5K: The best, scariest 75 minutes of your weekend

The city has seen plenty of zombie fun since the wildly popular Rob Bliss-produced Zombie Walk took over Rosa Parks Circle in 2008.

Now, 10 years later, we may have witnessed a lot of zombie-themed events and parties, but none can compare to the thrill of the annual Zombie Dash 5K that takes over the riverfront neighborhoods just north of Downtown. 

This seventh annual post-apocalyptic 5K takes place on the streets, paths, and bridges of Grand Rapids' north end.

Runners are encouraged to study the map in advance to know where the various zones are for this run and what to expect at each one. Hint: Some zombies will be lurking and waiting for you so that they can steal your “life strips,” which are modeled after flag football … except this time you are just trying to avoid losing one of your three strips and becoming some local zombie’s supper.

The goal is to stay alive and run fast, but remember, this is also a fun run so timing is not a factor. (Survival is.)

The key is to enjoy yourself while getting your heart rate up with some good old-fashioned apocalypse fun. To learn all the details as well as view the exciting upgrades and course for this year’s run, please visit their site here.
2019 Articles | Page: | Show All
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