G-Sync

In East Hills' Cherry Hill business district a new Revolution/Evolution is about to begin, and you might be surprised at what you discover. OK, so Revolution/Evolution is not an in-the-streets event but an art exhibition of the photographic works of Cuban artist Roberto Salas (son of photographer Osvaldo Salas) and Ann Arbor-based photographer Jack Kenny. This show contains many instantly recognizable iconic photos from the 1950s and '60s by Salas of Havana and the outlying regions. Salas' photos act as a documentary of the revolutionary time in Cuba where change was coming, ...
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Who could have predicted that the best new local event launched in 2010 would have been Yassou! - our city's premier Greek festival on Grand Rapids' east side. And when the food, music, and dancing is this good, it is easy for a cultural attaché to get really emotional at such a wonderful display of a culture that seems to always find more room for … well, more. And more is what you get when you attend Yassou!, where traditionally outfitted folks offer to those who visit a hearty taste of their culture in this heritage celebration. The food reflects the handmade ...
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Fans of the handmade and the written word are in luck this weekend as the 2nd annual Grand Rapids Zine Fest arrives this year -- bigger and better than ever at downtown's West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology.   For the uninitiated, a zine is, in the simplest terms, a very limited run of an often-handmade publication that uses the principles of DIY and DIT culture in its production.   These are not items that will hit the best-seller list of the New York Times, but the attraction is their beautiful ability to remain small and to give voices to folks who might not otherwise have one ...
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After decades of watching films where all too often the hero of the story is embodied by a white adult male, a series of feature films and documentaries is finally emerging that seeks to examine an area often overlooked: youth.   This can be seen in the recent releases like Richard Linkletter's Boyhood and the 2014 Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize: Documentary for the soul crushing and honest portrait of young adolescents in Rich Hill. The Mosaic Film Experience – a local organization committed to showcasing compelling stories told via film by area high school and ...
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GRandJazzFest: The Little Festival No More

Saturday & Sunday, Aug. 16 & 17, see website for complete schedule
The word jazz means many things to many people because it is so diverse. But when you say it in the summer in Grand Rapids, you are probably referring to the growing scene that was born out of the city's first outdoor jazz event started in 2012, the GRandJazzFest. What started as a one-day event has quickly grown in popularity, becoming a two-day festival committed to inviting musicians from all over the state to perform. On Saturday night, the festival welcomes Rick Braun – a star trumpeter and vocalist who has performed with Tina Turner, Sade, and Rod Stewart. Sunday's ...
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If you have ever wondered what a community garden could be, or what it would entail to begin one, then the Eastown Food Garden Walking Tour is your ultimate insider event.   Starting at the Eastown Neighborhood Associations office at 6 p.m., attendees will begin this 6th annual walking tour and visit 6-8 gardens on this just over a mile walk. This walking tour will include gardening examples from the first timer to a final stop, where the host will share a taste from their local garden that has been farmed in the city over generations. On this tour the guide will be pointing out key ...
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Modern life is full of career restarts, and the Tip Top Deluxe has a whopper of a star that embodies this reality. Once destined to be an opera star, Candye Kane – appearing next week at this intimate westside bar – dropped out of college after she fell out of love with the constraints of her musical form in 1976. Her musical journey since then has taken her down the path of punk, as she created a punk country act before taking another turn into adult modeling and stripping. She eventually went back to college and earned a degree in women's studies at Palomar Community ...
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When attending a concert performance, it is rare that one gets to count on a thing becoming "The Thing" that happens right before the big break. It does happen, but for the most part we never really know until history confirms it was so. But one place where music greatness has reliably launched has been via local promoter Hugo Claudin's many projects over the last couple of decades. This weekend at his Avenue for the Arts live/work space, you can experience Jamaican Queens at his Mexicains Sans Frontieres. According to co-producer Dan Climie (and Austin Kane of LiveSmiths), ...
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Chances are, if there is a fountain of youth, then Bill "Billy" Vits has discovered it. Not only has this musician led a bright life in the stage lights of DeVos Hall, where he is the principal percussionist with the GR Symphony, but Vitts is also an energetic band mate of our surfer rock band The Concussions, who perform in full skull masks and often in 80-plus-degree heat. When he's not performing, Vitts can often be seen out in the city supporting other musical acts. (He is often spotted tapping out a beat at his table.) How he has the energy to accomplish so much is ...
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Ever find yourself in the company of others and notice, even after diving head-first into topics as expansive as mortality, the end of the world, love, selfishness, God, technology, and the fate of mankind, you find yourself wanting more?   Lucky for you, there is another chance to submerse yourself in such topics again -- this time delivered with such an incredibly rich and brilliant musical score that you might not ever want to leave the bar after The Soil & The Sun steps on to Founders Taproom stage for the release of their newest album, Meridian. This new release not only features ...
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Sometimes the path to something new can be found within our city borders, and yet for others this story can only be unleashed after some travel. Talim – a new web series premiering at Wealthy Theatre - is the story of the latter as three friends go on a journey through India in search of greater meaning.   One of the filmmakers, Jonathan Kumar, describes Talim as "a film to awaken the senses and provide a mid-week boost of good storytelling and adventure." (Talim in Turkish means "to drill.") The web series follows the stories of three other individuals in India: a ...
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This city has adopted many changes over the years and one that seems to be the most in vogue is the concept of the First Friday. This mad dash to hit each and every venue or organization from the patron side is truly maddening considering the runner-like pace one must adopt to hit each one. (It is honestly impossible to do it all in one night.) When you add the desire of many to disappear to the shores of Lake Michigan each weekend, then you can see how hosting an event in the city with such competition can make an event planner's goals of attraction a literal scheduling nightmare. But I ...
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Before you attempt to drive your ‘beamer’ into the Urban Center for Contemporary Art's (UICA) gallery space this Friday night be warned that it's not a downtown version of the Wyoming mall parking lot car cruise night for German cars. But you would be correct in thinking it has European ties because in Europe a beamer is a projector that "beams images onto a surface," says UICA's Exhibitions Curator AJ Paschka. ‘Bring Your Own Beamer Grand Rapids’ is an international, one-night-only art exhibition with a remarkable list of filmmakers bringing ...
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Sometimes you feel like going home after work and staying on the couch watching TV is wrong. For those nights, thankfully we have alternatives like The Bike Pub Crawl Will Not Be Televised Part IV. Organized by Brad Smit – a local bartender in our city – the bike pub-crawl will include stops at places that have held off on installing TVs in their establishments. The tour starts at Harmony Brewing Company of Eastown and then winds through the city's neighborhood watering holes The Meanwhile and Brewery Vivant before landing around 9 p.m. at Heartside's The Pyramid ...
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Into The Woods: Sometimes People Leave You

Opening Night, Thursday, Aug. 7, see website for evening and matinee options.
One of the greatest stories in the history of American theater is the career and work of Stephen Sondheim. Many have attempted to understand his scope of topics over the years but often come up empty handed in trying to pigeonhole him. The best I can come up with after seeing so many of his productions, both on stage and those that translated to the big screen, is that he writes about the emotions we feel inside with such an universal appeal but always as if he were lifting our inner hopes and fears from us in the audience. The SouthSide Theater Company, which has brought to life so many ...
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There has been no shortage of bands in our region chock full of boys one moment jamming in their garage then, later, leaping to any one of the number of stages around the city. But until recently, the all-girl act was a bit of a novelty -- until now. With groups like Girls Rock Grand Rapids emerging as options for young female musicians, this is about to change really quickly here in our region. One act that is celebrating its third release at the downtown go-to-spot for the singer-songwriter scene is the all-girl string band, Nobody’s Darlin’, who have been plucking around ...
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Hip-hop in Grand Rapids is not rare, as evidenced by the July issues of Revue and Recoil Magazine, which both devoted covers to hip-hop artists and the scene. But with the appearance of El Gremio, a Spanish language act not afraid to dele into the arena of hip-hop, they help fill a void with a distinct sound born out of the timba of ethnic salsa, which gives birth to other familiar styles including rock, funk, and soul. Local musician Julio Villalobos has been very busy these last few months inviting more and more Latino acts to place Grand Rapids on their tour destination maps. The result ...
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Since landing in the epicenter of our city, Vault of Midnight's newest store in downtown Grand Rapids has wasted no time in acting as a host of fun-filled events. While they host many of these events within their colorful space on Monroe Center in downtown Grand Rapids, it is their events at a neighboring business, the Pyramid Scheme, that are turning heads. Downtown dwellers and business owners are watching as they up the ante all the time with board game parties and their more recent Girls Read Comics Too event. The latest event is sure to be a huge hit as they invite fans to a very ...
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For the uninitiated to 1970s camp, let me be perfectly clear and save you some trouble if you think you are heading in to watch Fred and Ginger dance the night away on the big screen.   If you simply read the Rocky Horror Picture Show description and took it in at face value ("a newly engaged couple's car breaks down in an isolated area and must pay a visit to the bizarre residence of Dr. Frank-N-Furter"), then it is perfectly clear how you could assume this might be some long-lost Jerry Lewis flick. That is, until you see the man dressed in your wife's Frederick's of ...
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Please, for the love of William Shakespeare, if you do not like your theatrical experiences full of witty fast-moving dialogue and peppered with musical numbers (that will leave you humming for days), or simply have a distaste for the unbelievable slapstick, physical comedic hyjinx, and an occasional pre-scripted audience participation, then please do not go to Circle Theatre's production of One Man, Two Guvnors directed by Todd Avery. It is just too painful to know that someone could end up with a ticket that is not into this style of humor and deprive someone else of this ...
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All I know is that if I cannot hear Jennifer Hudson's Academy Award-winning voice booming over the Ah-Nab-Awen Park on the west riverbank of downtown Grand Rapids, then I am not going. Because while this story, based on a stage production of the same name, is loosely repackaged for the big screen as director Bill Condon imagines the music phenomena of Detroit's Motown and its stars' rise to the top of the charts, it really comes down to that purely magical movie moment where, for just over five minutes, the air leaves your body while Ms. Hudson's character Effie White belts ...
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My friends who are passionate about pets and animal welfare always remind me of the needs of others, so I am happy to share back with them that for everyone who goes online and purchases a ticket to the Valentiger album release party at The Pyramid Scheme, you will get Stray Animals on Saturday night.   Ok, now before you call Kent County Animal Control -- which has better things to do than listen to your reactionary rant -- and multitask by firing off a letter to our publisher, Jeff Hill, I really want to be clear here. The album is called Stray Animals and if you purchase a ticket at this ...
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The Spoke Folks is a bike co-op near the soon-to-be-opened train station in downtown Grand Rapids' southwest neighborhood. But for one night they will be taking their mobile bike repair station, called a tricycle, on the road to The Meanwhile, which is sure to be ground zero for the East Hills neighbors who are looking to get their bikes tuned up while also boning up on their repair skills. The mission of The Spoke Folks reminds me of the old story that you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day, but teach him how to fish and he'll feed himself for life. In this case, not ...
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What could be more appropriate than celebrating the brewing company that sparked a revolution here in Grand Rapids with drinking and dancing in the street? Nothing else, since Founders Fest is the biggest beer celebration in our city. It's time to look ahead and secure a ticket to Founders Fest, which returns to Grandville Avenue between the brewery and the The Rapid's Central Station. The day will be filled with special releases of beer, local grub, and a chance to connect with local artists, sharing everything from fine art to music. The big names appearing this year are ...
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Any parent will tell you that when the opportunity arises over the summer to place a child in the care of someone else to take over the entertaining, you jump at the opportunity. At Aquinas College, Circle Theatre is debuting A Sleeping Beauty Somewhere in Time - a bold update of an old Norwegian folklore tale. This version of Sleeping Beauty, written by Randy Wyatt, is a story of a furious uninvited faerie who crashes the royal christening of a new baby and, in doing so, delivers a bone-chilling prophecy: this infant princess is doomed on her 16th birthday. As any modern parent who has ...
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Sometimes the best links to other cities are the ones that we create on our own rather than waiting for others to figure it out. This is exactly what Chris Protas of Grand Haven's Fire Barn Gallery did in the purposeful collaboration with the SLAG Gallery, as he welcomes this Brooklyn, NY gallery's spring group show Preliminary Study: RSI-T (part 2) to open in three area West Michigan galleries with three consecutive receptions in a row. The three stops in our region include Grand Haven's The Fire Barn Gallery (6/30), The Muskegon Museum of Art (7/1), and Grand Rapids' Richard ...
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If you missed the New Belgium Brewing Company's Clips Beer & Film party in Ah-Nab-Awen Park the last time it was here, all you need to know is that New Belgium curates an eclectic collection of 20 short films for every attention span and interest while keeping a focus on the hipster guidebook of what is cool (in a good way). This year, expect an adrenalin-filled collection of really enjoyable films focused on sports, makers of all sizes and flavors, and babes of all gender (and degrees of iconic facial hair) as you get to sample not only New Belgiums' best but their rarest brews, ...
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West Michigan-based companies Pilot Malt House, the Michigan Hop Alliance and Mitten Brewing Company, as well as West Michigan-based homebrew club The Brewsquitos Homebrewing Club and a host of local firms, are proud to welcome to Grand Rapids the 36th annual National Homebrewers Conference Mashing In Michigan. While the use of the word "conference" might send some racing for the escape button, hold on a moment, as this event has something for everyone, from the weekend brewer to the guy in charge of making sure things are consistent as recipes scale up. Seminars cover topics like ...
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One of the most consistently wonderful festivals in the state of Michigan just keeps better with each passing year. This year the 16th Waterfront Film Festival appears to not be letting up as they bring the best of Hollywood to our pleasurable shoreline: We're like Cannes but without the cost or stuffiness. Heading to South Haven this year will be 34 feature films, of which 21 are Midwest premieres and 13 are Michigan premieres. As with any film festival of this scale, the opportunity to bump into an actor or director is even greater than at many other, larger festivals. While there is a ...
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It is no secret within many circles of our city that one of the most vibrant examples (yet best-kept secrets) of urban planning and development is happening in the heart of the Madison Square neighborhood of Grand Rapids. Not only have new buildings been popping up, but so have a host new businesses as well as a new spirit for getting everyone to the table in the planning process in this neighborhood. And while the leader of this movement, LINC, has been hosting a series of events as well as opening a new café, their annual street party, Rock the Block, is also turning heads. This ...
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The Michigan Modern event is in full swing and if you have not stopped by to attend any one of the numerous art exhibitions on display at the GRAM, Kendall College of Art and Design's Federal Building or UICA, then you are missing one of the greatest art events in our city's history as the roots, growth, and future of our region's influence on the world of design is on display. The Michigan Modern: Design that Shaped America symposium begins on Thursday night and all eyes are on the opening night's lecture by Todd Oldham. New York-based designer Oldham will address the GRAM ...
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The most influential art movement since Pop is graffiti and it is being propelled forward into the history books by the changing tastes of a newer and much younger audience as well as by art lovers of all ages who are lining up to purchase such works. Attempting to plant a white-hot spotlight on this emerging art activity is a new art exhibition, COMMIX, organized by local gallery Con Artist Crew at the UICA. It is one of the first institutional spaces to showcase such work at this level and with such a carefully curated focus. This newish art form, when adopted by cities under the moniker of ...
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"The musty scent; dust motes floating through forgotten treasures," writes Miranda Sharp, co-director of her second show, The Thrift Shop, at the Glitter Milk Gallery. Not missing a beat after their wildly successful (and sold-out) opening exhibition last month, Sharp and her business partner/artist Josh McVety will transform their newly remodeled Glitter Milk Gallery into a thrift shop. This curiosity-driven showcase of 20 artists will be responding to the theme of being thrifted to satisfy curiosity. I am sure it will throw off many who stumble in thinking they may have discovered ...
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It is hard to imagine, but our local chapter of Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School in Grand Rapids is turning five. To celebrate, you can expect all the decadent fun you have come to expect from this art school meshed with a performance art night devoted to boning up on your drawing skills (and held in a bar!). Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School started in Brooklyn in 2005 and quickly spread worldwide as part of the contemporary alt.drawing movement. According to the international site, "Artists who attend draw glamorous underground performers in an atmosphere of boozy conviviality." ...
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What better way to welcome the warm season of summer than by attending one of the best parties where half of the audience is real dogs? Seriously, the BISSELL Blocktail Party is a party for you and your best friend - your doggie. Hosted each year by the BISSELL Pet Foundation, this event allows crazy dog owners and their pups to mix and mingle while also noshing on an array of hand-passed treats, including the always festive and creative yappetizers (for your pooch). The auction always contains some of the most memorable items since, in my opinion, pet owners tend to be most generous. ...
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Many years ago when ArtWorks was first beginning, I was leading a group of students in a photography class. Part of our time together involved visiting museums and, lucky for me, a photographic show was on exhibit. But as we walked from image to image, I noticed a few kids were lagging further and further behind. When I asked them why they'd stopped, their reply upended the balance as they became the teacher with one simple question: "Where are the people who look like me?" They were right. There were no representations of African-American women in any of the images, much less ...
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Spring's weather wasn't the only thing delayed this year after our never-ending winter: tulips seemed unable to yield up their color until after the Tulip Time tourists had left the area, and there is little hope if you go to the beach this weekend to sunbathe that you will be able to get in the water without the threat of hyperthermia. But luckily for those in search of the feeling of surf and sand, on Saturday night at Founders Tasting Room The Concussion will not only be bringing their four honyoks to the stage for other honyoks, but they will also be delivering a new CD release ...
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Two of the three obvious benefits of being a filmmaker from West Michigan will be on stage as a part of the West Michigan Film Video Alliance's monthly 4Walls event next week. For this very special night, the first benefit is the inclusion of three excellent panelists: Christian Gaines, executive director of ArtPrize; writer, director, and actor Anthony E. Griffin, who also happens to be the festival director of Thriller! Chiller! Film Festival; and Grand Rapids filmmaker Joel Potrykus. They will all be on stage to discuss how to navigate the choppy waters of the film festival circuit. ...
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Sarah Mayne has worn many hats over the years that I have known her but she has always had one dream that has been delayed until now – to run a community performance arts space devoted to dance and theater. It may seem like a stretch that we need another theatrical space but in fact, Grand Rapids is really lacking performance spaces. Ambrosia Theater hopes to fill that void with their brand new East Hills neighborhood location. Presented over three days, Mayne is inviting fans of dance and theatre to consider attending any one of Ambrosia's weekend programs, from the exotic ...
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BrekFEST: Served All Day Long (and Twice)

Friday & Saturday, May 16 -17, see site for show times
Eastown  
Back in the day (and in NYC), it was a trend that the hottest places to be were often the very venues without a visible address or map. As I scoured for an address to the House of Pancakes and the Waffle Haus – both local places I have been but also actual homes acting as impromptu event spaces in the city – I have decided since they have elected to hide this critical info (until revealed via a ticket purchase) I will play along with the charade. But it is no game when you look at the line up that BrekFEST has booked into what can only be described as a revolving door of talent ...
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Picnic in the Park: Clean It Up/Party On It Later

Saturday, May 17, 9 - 11 a.m. (clean up) & noon - 3 p.m. (picnic)
Eastown  
Spring is the best time to get your yard work done because when executed properly (and on time,) it can yield a near-carefree summer's worth of enjoyment. And what better way to approach a park in Eastown than by giving a little of your time this year at the annual Sigsbee Park clean-up, where for years the neighbors have come out to participate in this annual event. Realizing not everyone can get to the park that morning, Eastown Neighborhood Association is partnering with area businesses to present their 2nd annual Picnic in the Park event as an opportunity to thank the workers who labor ...
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When the Second Annual Well House Plant Sale opens on May 17, you can expect some big changes on already display – with more changes coming in the very near future for the Southeast Grand Rapids neighborhood organization committed to eradicating homelessness in our city. The Well House's Urban Food Growing program will be hosting this daylong event featuring 1000s of heirloom plants including tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, broccoli, eggplant, greens, herbs, and more, for sale at $2 per plant. With each sale you will be supporting a program in our city that enables their residents, now ...
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Active Commute Week (ACW) might be winding down on Friday, but that does not mean that the benefits of participation are coming to a close. Far from it, as Brewery Vivant invites everyone to join them at the community celebration at their East Hills location for the Handlebar Happy Hour. You don't have to ride a bike to be welcome here; in fact, you could walk or even take the bus. The organizers just want you to get here to celebrate. As an added incentive, the first 100 ACW Challenge participants get a free beverage on Brewery Vivant. If you wish to know more about all the 2014 Active ...
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Fans of austerity must love chamber music. The very foundation of this style of classical music is rooted in the simple and bareness of the presentation of these works. But when I look at the structure with a new set of eyes, I see similarities to the startup culture, where a leader is present (but not often evident) as musicians, like collaborators, engage in a thrilling conversation told through the composition. The result is that chamber music concerts are much more intimate than an orchestral piece of music, reflecting a style of music often referred to as a conversation. For the last ...
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It is not uncommon to see the roots of opera's greatest hits spilling over into our lives since for all its stereotypical association with the upper class, it is one of the best art forms to showcase the duality of the human existence. (Hint: It is messy like our lives, where happiness can be fleeting and tragedy often befalls the loving.)  The societal spillover of our local Opera Grand Rapids' Madama Butterfly as their season closer is a work of art that is well known in our world. Madama Butterfly has emerged from the chrysalis to take on new forms and is often modernized. We see ...
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A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Young Bottom's Drive for Love

World Premiere, Fri. - Sun., May 9-10 & 16-17 at 7:30 pm; Matinees May 11 & 18 at 2:00 pm
It is not uncommon these days to see works of art debut here, which only solidifies my belief that we are truly becoming BetaCity, USA.    This is never more evident than during a world debut, like that of choreographer Olivier Wevers, featuring the collaborative work lighting designer Michael Mazzola. It arrives in the form of a modern dance adaptation of William Shakespeare's  “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Grand Rapids Ballet (GRB.) Making the leap from the theatrical page to the ballet stage, this very condensed version of the popular Elizabethan work is told ...
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TRIP THE LIGHT: kiss the sky (one last time)

Series Final Performance: Saturday, May 10, 7 p.m. (doors), 8 p.m. (curtain)
One of the best indicators of spring in the city is the annual dance event, Trip The Light – an annual contemporary dance showcase event presented by Dance in the Annex (DITA), loosely composed around a theme and then executed under the direction of DITA's founder and artistic director Amy Wilson. And yet when we roll around to spring 2015, Trip The Light will be no more, as Wilson after five years is announcing that this is the last one.   The theme for the fifth outing is Trip The Light: kiss the sky and will feature all the wonderful aspects this modern dance showcase has produced ...
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This weekend is a great time to begin your trial run of an event many more of us will begin to enjoy over the coming months when the temps in the city rise and tempt us to wander to the lakeshore. And while the water will be too cold to dip even a lowly toe into the icy surf, the events are already beginning to heat up. On Friday night comes a brand new event from the Muskegon Museum of Art entitled ON TAP. This beer-and-cider-focused event in an art setting will feature lakeshore brands of craft brews, including Saugatuck Brewing Co. (Neapolitan, Oval Beach Blond), New Holland (Sun Dog, Full ...
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If you have never heard of or stopped by The Spoke Folks then you are missing something really amazing in our city. The Kickstand Kickoff – a first-year event being held outside the Folks facility (and a few steps from the soon-to-open new Amtrak station) -- offers you a chance to ride your bike to an outdoor event where you are a big part of their mission at this unique co-op for cyclists. The people I have encountered cycling in our city are very diverse, and as a result, The Spoke Folks have programmed the day with something for everyone as local singer/songwriter Stacy Feyer-Salo, ...
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Warning: If you use wheatpaste to adhere your art or design to an unsecured wall in the city, you will be arrested. (Good, I got that out of the way to please the lawyers.) I applaud Glitter Milk, the newest gallery on the art map, for their foray into educating our community on the importance of street art and for devoting a portion of the gallery's programming to the education. Glitter Milk tackles some of the tricky legalities that will usher in dialogue locally around what the difference is between this form of art and outright vandalism. And while many will want to debate me on the ...
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