G-Sync

In a break from the past, Jake’s Music Festival shakes things up for its 13th festival by moving to The Orbit Room. The shift is enabling more opportunities for this annual event to continue to evolve in its mission to provide the best of the area’s music talent, who perform to raise funds for our local chapter of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). The lineup is a mixture of styles of music from some of our area’s veterans performers but also newer acts. Joining Jake’s Music Festival this year are The PotatoeBabies, The Autumnatic, The Jet Beats, Papa Vegas, ...
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Each year our local Mexican Restaurant, Lindo Mexico, invites the community to participate in their Día del Niño/Children’s Day celebration. This event is based on the popular Mexican holiday of Día del Niño/Children’s Day and is celebrated every April 30 in Mexico. On this special day, communities place their focus on the children -- our next generation -- by making them feel special through creative play and delicious food. Lindo Mexico’s Owner Gricelda Mata believes that children help to show us how joyful and simple life can be. If you have ...
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Producing an event is really hard work and is something that is often overlooked by most. On April 15, Dance in the Annex (DITA) -- an award-winning contemporary dance troupe from our region -- and ArtPeers will produce their latest theatrical work at Wealthy Theatre, “#shift.”. While seeking to follow their successful works of the past, “#shift” makes a few big changes that will only increase the benefit of this production and those attending this one-night-only event. This work will follow in the footsteps of their past wildly popular theatrical performances of ...
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It is not often that Grand Rapids gets to welcome a Pulitzer Prize-winning theatrical work to the city.  But, luckily for us, over the next couple weeks you will have a chance to experience the power of this artform to transform our minds through the Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids’ production of the Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Disgraced.” This play has been a popular work of art with regional theaters that has garnered both praise and criticism -- all the stuff of good theatre, as it deals with contemporary issues ripped from the headlines and ...
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In 1971, when the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” by Andrew Lloyd Weber debuted on Broadway, the nation was gripped by a time of societal upheaval after so many leaders from the era before had met a similar untimely and violent end as Christ had in his time. What made “Jesus Christ Superstar” so popular at this time of history, and how this ancient story has since been s updated and delivered via a rock opera format, is, by all definitions, still the stuff that good musical theatre adores, from “Rent” to “Hamilton.” “Jesus Christ ...
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One thing that has been missing from local nightlife culture has been the lack of transformation within the spaces where various pop-up events appear.  But that is about to change on Saturday night, when Adrian Butler of AB and Kelley Hughes of Hunt & Gather take over our local award-winning Long Road Distillers’ upstairs space to create a Safari party. This intimate space has proven its short history to be a favorite but flexible setting for everything from rock concerts, like Chance Jones’ reunion show, to too-many-to-count special community gatherings. But, to the best of ...
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There are no shortages of places where you can have a beer or a cocktail, but finding a place where you dance to an eclectic night of finely curated music that isn’t Top 40 or a throwback themed party event can be hard. Lucky for us, over the last few years a fine group of young deejays have been so successful at mining our past and merging it with our future with a series of analog driven events that it is hard to imagine a time when they were not as happening. And while we have had plenty of ongoing events devoted to the advancement of our DJ culture for more than a decade, the ...
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If you have lived in Grand Rapids city limits, then it is quite possible that you have resided in a place that has a rich history of individual lives who have passed through your doorways. But what about the home? What is the history that eludes your wandering eyes as you scan the room asking what is the history of this particular space you call home? Lucky for you, on Saturday there is a chance to don your metaphorical Sherlock Holmes cape, hat and pipe as you join others on a search for your home’s hidden history at a special workshop designed to answer many of your questions. In ...
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Known for its year-round film arts programming, the Grand Rapids Film Festival (GRFF) once a year invites film fans to gather for a film festival that is unlike any other cinematic offering in our community. For starters, while it is a festival devoted to all things film, the organizers invite the public to intersect with this unique art form via three distinct programming entry points. On Thursday, they invite the public to join them at Notos Old World Italian Dining (6600 28th St SE, Cascade) for a special film edition of PechaKucha -- a lively and fast-paced presentation where area ...
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It is hard to imagine, but Art.Downtown is older than ArtPrize -- and, yet, each year both of these free public events continue to create a compelling and rich bookend six months apart from each other that serve not just the city, but our local arts scene through their contributions. Art.Downtown reflects the energy many of us feel as we exit from a cold season, inviting attendees to wander about the city on foot to explore the many spaces that are showcasing art created locally, as well as works from visiting artists. All told, Art.Downtown is 36 venues and is the culmination of hundreds of ...
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If you have been driving around the city these last few days, then you most certainly have encountered a white, pink, and blue striped flag. These flags located in area businesses, arts centers, and community spaces are in celebration of Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV). And while we officially celebrate TDOV on March 31 each year, this year Grand Rapids has a host of events, including a special night of stories in a venue known for producing innovative, community-focussed programming. On Thursday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m., North Monroe neighborhood’s SpeakEZ Lounge presents a night of ...
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"Live Coverage" at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) has been many things over the years, and that is, in part, rooted in the design of this popular event that celebrates 15 this year. What sets UICA’s annual fundraising event apart from all the others is the activities that happen within it each year, as area artists gather to showcase via their tiny pop-up studios the works they have created over the course of the night. But this year, on the occasion of the arts center’s 40th anniversary, it is shaking things up by making a few tweaks to an event you ...
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It is rare to hear of a Grammy Award winner hitting the stage of a local brewery taproom, but it’s even more rare when you consider that this duo both won their Grammys for work on separate projects.  This is the beauty of Ghost-Note — a fresh, percussion-rich duo made up of Robert "Sput" Searight and Nate Werth, whose names are well known in the music industry for their talent. With a blend of beats rooted in West African, Afro-Cuban, and Brazilian samba, Ghost-Note drum and percussion influences bring to the ear musical elements that harken James Brown, J Dilla, and ...
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There are plenty of reasons to love the seventh annual Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival, but none is more fitting than the chance to enjoy all of these films for free. This diverse array of films is brought to our community through the collaborative power of our area’s education institutions of Aquinas College, Calvin College, Davenport University, Ferris State University, and Grand Valley State University, and this event’s contributions to our cinematic culture has been going strong since its debut in 2010. Scheduled to appear this weekend are nine award-winning films ...
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It may be true that the flowers are finally starting to peek out this spring, but nothing will be able to properly prepare you for the sea of stunning florals that are a part of the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s bi-annual Art in Bloom weekend event. Unlike other exhibitions at a museum, this one truly is a limited edition in that these special floral arrangements will only be up for three days. But what a wonderful 72 hours of excitement do they have planned for us. Art in Bloom prominently features imaginative floral sculptures from the area’s leading floral designers in a museum ...
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While many may be able point out the name César Chávez that adorn our nation’s many parks, schools, and even street signs, do folks really know who this man was and what his contribution is to our society? To our Hispanic members of society, he is on par with other groups’ civil rights leaders, as Chávez led, over three decades, numerous hunger strikes, organized marches, boycotts, and other direct actions to support the farmworkers’ rights movement. And while Chávez passed away in 1993, his legacy lives on in so many -- but none had the ...
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A huge part of our city’s success is a direct result of its heritage, but none of this would be possible if it weren’t for great design woven into the fabric of who we are today.  Starting this weekend, we will once again as a community celebrate the impact of design with world renowned speakers, interactive workshops, and special tours at the Fourth annual West Michigan Design Week that runs from Saturday, March 25 through Saturday,  April 1 at various locations in the city. Highlights this year include keynote speakers Jason Mayden, a sneaker designer at Nike, columnist for ...
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What better way to kick to the curb your winter blues than a fashion show devoted to one of West Michigan’s favorite activities: bicycle riding. And who better to host an event than our local She Rides Her Own Way (SRHOW), which has partnered with the Gilmore Collection’s Eve at The BOB for its very first bike and fashion show titled, Ride The Runway. One of the joys of a SRHOW project that Rapid Growth has covered over the last few years has been founder Johannah Jelks’ ability to bring to the table so many diverse people and businesses to create something truly unique. For ...
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Beginning his musical journey at the age of three, when he was fascinated by the rhythmic patterns of a drum, Miles Coleman would grow to become known as the artist known as Mishigami. Along the way, he would study classical piano and be later introduced into the world of jazz, which would influence his distinct electronic style of music. Mishigami is a part of the thrilling new music series at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, Concerts Under the Stars in the Chaffee Planetarium, where while reclining in comfortable seating, attendees can experience the wonder of the cosmos projected above as ...
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Each year on St Patrick’s Day the party faithful seek to find the perfect celebratory spot space for your annual marathon for your liver.  Luckily for you this year, you have two great opportunities spread over two days (three if you want to count last weekend’s flurry of St. Practice Day events).  First, you can select from any one of the numerous bars in our city that will be serving up the best in Irish entertainment on Friday.  But come Saturday, it is time to take your revelry out of the bars and into the streets. In this case I am speaking directly of Irish on Ionia. Irish ...
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One of the beautiful aspects of the Blandford Nature Center is not just the 143 acres on which it is situated with miles of hiking trails, but because once a year they invite the public to be a part of the Sugarbush Festival. This very analog event seeks to educate the public while at the same time give folks a chance to enjoy firsthand the ancient process of taking fresh tapped maple trees and turning the delicious sugary water into the dark and complex maple syrup. This year’s event, which celebrates its 47th year, enables guests of the nature center to learn about the process with ...
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If you have lived in Grand Rapids for as long as I have, then you know that there are those in our community who are real champions of the arts. Most times these folks are easy to spot in our community from their names on the top of our arts buildings to the dedication plates often adorning many of the seats within our local theatrical venues. But there are also those less obvious champions who through their lived experience and devotion to community organizing within the arts have made a lasting impression just as valuable as any name on a building or brick. One such person is our ...
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MOVEMEDIA: World premieres all night long

Friday - Sunday, Mar. 10 - 12, 6:30 p.m. (doors), 7:30 p.m. (performances)

It is hard to imagine that Michigan’s only professional ballet company is celebrating is 46th season, and part of this success is their ability to reinvent and refresh our opinions of this very physical art form. 

This weekend, fans of dance will flock from all over the state to join others at the Peter Martin Wege Theatre for the Grand Rapids Ballet’s seventh edition of MOVEMEDIA. This innovative dance series is stunning for its expansive definition of what makes dance so vital and contemporary, and it is brought to this region through the leadership of Grand Rapids Ballet Artistic

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Starting with a community kick-off celebration held at Rosa Parks Circle on Thursday, Mar. 9, 5:30 p.m, LaughFest 2017 is inviting those looking to have their funny bone tickled with their West Michigan Live Mannequin Challenge. 

From there, the fun doesn’t end until Sunday, March 19.

Highlights of this year’s festival include many showcase series that are quite popular with locals, as well as a long list of new faces and headliners offering truly something for everyone.

A few standouts that could get overlooked as headliners create big buzz are those special events that are connected

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There are many places in this world where, if you have the funds, you will not have difficulty accessing the earth’s vast cultures.

But there are those that are (even) more difficult to reach in our ever-splintering globe following the U.S. November elections. One such place that is enshrouded in mystery is North Korea.

For the small price of a few gallons of petro, you can get to the De Pree Art Center and Gallery at Hope College and peak into this mysterious nation via the visually arresting photographic works of artist Tom Wagner, who made several trips to North Korea from 1995 to 2004.

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The Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical “Rent" has suffered a lot of ridicule over the years, from comics to pop culture lampooning something that became a bit of a cultural phenomenon.

But if you were like me and other artists in 1996, when “Rent” would debut on stage, it was a beautiful, white hot spotlight revealing the lives of folks who for far too long had been overlooked by society. In short, this Broadway stage was filled (again) with people who felt like people I knew in the city and whose real crime was that they were trying to break through to something

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The history of Slows, a barbecue restaurant chain launched in Detroit’s historic Corktown neighborhood, is a tasty one, but also a story with a huge community engagement piece built in right at the start. It was while on a 2011 Rapid Growth bus trip to Detroit to observe and connect with area entrepreneurs  and change-agents that we learned from Phil Cooley, co-owner of Slows Bar BQ (and founder of Ponyride, a Detroit-based nonprofit that supports artists and entrepreneurs), that we would learn that the making a successful restaurant takes a lot more than just a good sandwich. What ...
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Grand Rapids has had its share of women’s sports teams over the years, but the Grand Raggidy Roller Derby is one of the only contemporary sports teams to last more than 10 years. On Saturday, our roller derby teams, the Grand Raggidy Attack and the Grand Raggidy All Stars, will welcome the Barbed Wire Betties from Dekalb County, Illinois and Tri-City Roller Derby from the Waterloo region of Ontario. This is the first time that the Barbed Wire Betties have ever faced the Grand Raggidy Attack, but both teams have a well-deserved reputation for being real scrappers -- so you know this ...
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One of the many new shops to pop up in East Hills is the Louise Earl Butcher, but what makes this neighborhood business stand out is its workshop-themed classes that it offers from time to time. For its upcoming Sunday workshop on sausage making, attendees will have a chance to learn how to make sausage from scratch. And if you are like me, then finally you’ll be able to justify purchasing the meat grinding and sausage making attachments for your KitchenAid mixer. But it is not necessary to have such tools since this hands-on experience in a spacious butcher’s kitchen will ...
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Over the years, we have had plenty of dialogue in our region as to how we can be a greener society, from the way we encourage recycling to the advocacy of riding bikes as a way to offset carbon emissions. And while these are often very public relations-driven efforts, behind the scenes we are a community concerned about our built environment (the resources and infrastructure designed to support human activity, such as parks, buildings and more). Through the addition of advances in green infrastructure, we can begin to reduce the threats of stormwater, delivering smarter policies that improve ...
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Blow Up: Inflatable Contemporary Art

Opening Reception: Thursday, Feb. 23, 5:30 p.m. (through April 23)
Too often art that is nontraditional can get a bad rap for a host of reasons, from being too cheery, kitsch, or nostalgia-driven to being viewed as not highbrow enough for the serious art collector. But once in a while comes a show that hits on these often divergent stressors illustrated above to showcase not only what is possible with an installation but how such works can lift the imagination of the viewer. That is the beauty of “Blow Up: Inflatable Contemporary Art,” a traveling exhibit that originally debuted at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, California before ...
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The beauty of the era we find ourselves living right now is that the technology we use on a daily basis allows us immediate access to information as we seek to understand and solve complex problems in society.  One area that Rapid Growth has been tracking for some time has been our local cooperative movement in all of its forms, from housing and fiber to a brewery and grocery store. On Friday, Feb. 24 at the West Michigan Food Co-op a new documentary, “Food for Change,” will be screened for locals who are curious about this alternative form of community wealth building. Hosted by ...
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Are you sick of the winter chills? Can’t bear the thought of leaving your blue Snuggie? Do you yearn for that inner, satisfying feeling you had many months ago in Michigan when your bones were actually warm?  Well, lucky for you, a much-needed and healing tropical 85 degrees and 70 percent humidity warmth has always been just a few miles away from your home in Grand Rapids at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. And in case you needed more than the promise of warmth and the chance to see Ai Weiwei’s historic “Natural State” exhibition, then the lively and ...
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It is no secret that the biggest beer event on this side of the state is the annual Winter Beer Festival, which is not only turning 12 this year but continues to grow as it attracts craft beer lovers from all over the nation.  And while the Saturday afternoon event at the Fifth Third Ballpark has been sold out since tickets went on sale, the Friday night event is a pleasant alternative for those who like to drink under a sunset and stars instead of the day drinking associated (and redefined) with Saturday’s session. For the serious craft brew freak, here is an exhaustive list of all the ...
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It is hard to imagine that the pipeline from Broadway flows so easily to West Michigan, but if you have been following this trend then it is not hard to see why “Hand to God” is having its Michigan debut at Actors’ Theatre. Just a year ago, one of Broadway’s most shocking successes drew its final curtain, and almost as swiftly our local Actors’ Theatre bid for the rights to stage this play. Unlike most dramatic productions, this play defies all expectations with its edgy, laugh-out-loud humor mixed with poignancy. As a result of this winning combination, this ...
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Prom is a big deal, and on Saturday night at The Pyramid Scheme Retro D’Luxe is looking to trip a few of your switches as they return to the popular downtown entertainment venue with a special installment of their popular nostalgia-driven dance party. For starters, the night’s theme is all 80s music prom. That means you can not only get your groove on with some of the most blindly ambitious and adventurous music ever created, but you will get to experience it like many of us did at our proms: in some of the most outlandish of fashions from the era. Prom season is an economic boom ...
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There are plenty of ways to celebrate Black History Month in our region, but the one event that is a thrill to attend for so many reasons is downtown Grand Rapids Public Library’s Taste of Soul Sunday. At this annual event, you will have a chance to participate in hands-on activities and watch live performances related to Grand Rapids’ African American heritage and culture. Also, as the name implies. there will be plenty of good eats from local restaurants (Daddy Pete's BBQ, Big Ed's BBQ, Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant, Malamiah Juice Bar) to sample at this day-long ...
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Los Tucanes de Tijuana (LTdT), one of Mexico’s most successful musical acts, will be in Grand Rapids on Saturday night, and judging by their long legacy in the industry, this is going to be a thrilling concert for a host of reasons. First, LTdT has created one of the most amazing discographies of any Mexican musical act, with a prolific knack of creating compelling and timely compositions that reflect the times. What started in 1987 at a pub at Bar Razza's Club in Tijuana on the Baja California, their sound has evolved to a commentary on current events. Secondly, they are part of a ...
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Folks are always asking what is the best bet for those seeking to connect more to our local arts scene and honestly, one of the best answers is still “by attending listener supported radio WYCE 88.5 FM’s Jammies.” This annual award show is really a right of passage for musicians who have not just labored to create a new release but have often played out in a variety of venues from brew pubs to patio bars to even house parties and basement shows. And for $5 (suggested cash donation) you will gain access to a thrilling night of music as 25 acts perform across two massive ...
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The headlines these past few weeks have been devoted to a host of topics but none has generated more energy than those that are addressing the latest battle over the plight of the immigrant in America. In advance of their latest musical production of “Ragtime,” Civic Theatre is offering a week out of its February 24 opening a special panel discussion event looking at what makes a city inclusive. Created in partnership with Grand Rapids Public Library, Creating a City of Inclusion: Modern Immigration, Local Impact welcomes panelists from organizations working within immigrant & ...
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It seems with every year as we add more outdoor winter activities in the city, the battle to plan such an event devoted to snow on a day when we can expect to have snow becomes problematic for event producers. So you can imagine the amount of prayers for snow coming from downtown merchants and restaurants who are eagerly awaiting 2017’s Snow Days. This year Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) and their partners are creating something new with Snow Days -- an outdoor festival where truly there is something for everyone over the course of this five-day event that runs February 10 - 14. ...
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Finally a Black History Month event devoted to the power of music and art with a healthy dose of laughter.  Ok, that might be a bit of a stretch considering this special event is Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School Grand Rapids. And you could say it was just another installment of everyone’s favorite no-credit, non-degree art class until you see who is this month’s special live guest model, former Grand Rapidian SuperDre. The fun is at the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill this month and will give those seeking a creative outlet a chance to hang with other artists of all skill levels as ...
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History is full of examples of folks who like to keep things in an orderly fashion as they acquire objects. Whether it be art, shoes, or even those garish state spoons your grandma loved to display in her kitchen as proof that she once got around, collecting is, for better or worse, a part of our culture. Before the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) welcomes the public on Sunday, Feb. 5 to view their latest show, “Finders Keepers: West Michigan Collects,” members will have an opportunity to attend a special opening preview party for this exclusive and original exhibition. (GRAM also ...
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In 1996, Eve Ensler unleashed on an off-Broadway audience an episodic play, “The Vagina Monologues.” And ever since that time we have witnessed numerous new re-stagings of this now classic, feminist-focused theatrical work. The Vagina Monologues is an Obie Award-winning theatrical tour de force showcasing a divergent cast of guest female voices who share tales based on the vagina. The production covers a lot of ground as these thoughtful stories, including a six-year-old girl, a septuagenarian New Yorker, a vagina workshop participant, a woman who witnesses the birth of her ...
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Let’s face it. The last few weeks have been rough for a host of reasons. We all could use some time to just chill. And no other artist evokes an atmosphere of chill more than reggae’s legendary Bob Marley, whose birthday will be the occasion of a returning annual party happening at Eastown’s Billy’s Lounge. Attendees will be enthralled as the music of Bob Marley is performed by the Michigan-originated reggae bands Reggaeloution and Zion Lion. And while it is doubtful that the ghost of Marley will appear, it is possible that a true spiritual awakening could occur since ...
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While the world is full of examples of how artists have connected their works from studio to collector, the advent of the internet unleashed on the world a whole new landscape enabling artists to take greater control of their destiny. When Etsy arrived on the internet, the options for artists and craftsmen to sell their wares were limited and often mismatched (i.e. Ebay). But Etsy did a lot more than just present another platform as it continued to evolve itsbrand to reflect a different corporate value structure. The biggest shift came when Etsy decided to become a Benefit Corporation (or B ...
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For years within the many spaces of our city where I serve as a volunteer, I have made a commitment to drive home the message of what we gain when we place those on the stage whose voices are too often denied the spotlight they deserve. The invisibility of such persons on those stages means that those rising up through the ages have no example, much less clue, if they are welcome or not in said institutions. Friday, Jan. 27 is not just the opening of another new exhibition, “Us is Them,” but is a chance for a generation of people within our region, who haven’t been ...
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When I saw my first Ai Weiwei exhibition, I spent so much time with the works that my hours just evaporated, causing me to almost miss my boat off Alcatraz in San Francisco.  But the truth is that we have never had an artist like Ai in my lifetime who could delve into so many different human rights abuses and still empty a complex set of mediums to convey deeply rooted meanings that could be shared across the world. That was what moved me about  “@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz,” held on the island of Alcatraz. Ai was born in Beijing and spent his childhood in forced exile before ...
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Sure, a new brewery seems to open every other week in West Michigan, but when one who has committed to creating neighborhood-inspired brews are showcasing their pub as a place for community members to gather around a table and not a TV, well, you take notice of what they are doing. Not only is there a real tangible energy here that spills over from the busy street just outside on Plainfield Avenue, but once inside that energy is conveyed via the brightly lit corner south facing floor to ceiling windows. This is the beauty of the Creston Brewery in the heart of the Creston -- the city’s ...
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Situated in a westside warehouse district of Grand Rapids (home to many creative studios and artists’ collectives/businesses), Civic Studio welcomes Whitney Biennial artist Beatriz Santiago Muñoz to Grand Valley State University’s (GVSU) 2016-17 Visiting Artists series, Art and the Radical -- a thought-provoking program of lectures from some of the world’s best artists working on projects that aim to increase dialogue as they transform our understanding of art and our world. Beatriz Santiago Muñoz’s research-based works are created through lengthy ...
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