Festival of the Arts: Music, dance, art, and meat on a stick

Friday - Sunday, June 1 - 3
Festival of the Arts arrives back into downtown with all the boldness of Alexander Calder’s La Grande Vitesse that inspired it.

However, it was not always love at first sight. In 1969 when La Grande Vitesse was installed in front of City Hall in downtown Grand Rapids, it was thought by many to be a waste of money or ugly. 

This 43-foot-tall, vibrant red stabile over time would melt locals’ hearts as the city would come to adopt the symbol, adhering it everything from street signs to taxi cabs, and even the city flag. 

In fact, I am fairly certain that this warming up to love “the Calder” (as locals call it) has a lot to do with Festival organizers, whose labor each year centers on the sculpture. They even produce an annual event poster that is beloved by many visitors and residents ever since. (The poster pays homage to Calder each year by including a reference to the artist or his work.)

This three-day community event features several stages of performances for music and dance, a juried Regional Arts Exhibition at KCAD, and too-many-to-mention food booths run by non-profit organizations, with a few offering meat on a stick.

As an added bonus, while the main outdoor aspects of this weekend event happen June 1-3, the juried Festival Art Exhibition opens early on Wednesday, May 30, from 5 to 9 p.m. at The Fed Galleries at KCAD. The opening night artist reception will feature all the winning and juried artworks on display as well as a chance to meet the artists attending. This special art exhibition will run through June 23.
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