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 want to encourage you to change your patterns this Friday night and get to Gaspard, a gallery on the Avenue for the Arts presenting its final exhibition, Free.
Gaspard has been unique on the Avenue in that they always understood the need to present fresh contemporary work that might not always connect with our local audience. It may not be for everyone, but those who do present this uniquely versioned art proudly in their homes do so with an absolute reverence for the Gaspard artists works.
Free will be the final chapter of Gaspard's two-year story and will feature a group exhibition with works by Chris Cox, Jeff Kraus, and Jacob Bullard with supporting exhibition graphic design by Ben Biondo.
The gallery space will still function as a place for the remaining members of Gaspard to pursue creative and publishing projects but the members are clearly moving on, as Chris Cox departs for Detroit to secure a MFA in photography at Cranbrook Academy of Art and Ben Biondo relocates to Los Angeles to advance his graphic design business. Artists Jeff Kraus and Jacob Bullard will continue their work in Grand Rapids but will be shifting their focus within their respective businesses.
The end of the Gaspard model is a sad one for many in the arts, but if you have lived here long enough, then you have come to understand that talent circulates and cannot be contained within our borders. The desire to explore is a big part of the themes these artists have explored in their works, and the best anyone who continues on in Grand Rapids can expect is that someone will be inspired by their influence and build upon what came before them.
Sure, you can still plan to attend one of the many events along the Avenue for the Arts, including the one-year anniversary of Have Company (a shop devoted to DIY/DIT culture), but Gaspard's unique gallery space on the very edge of the district offers just one last opportunity to experience something rare – a true contemporary art gallery devoted to sales with work truly outstanding in every way.
In short, this is my absolutely-don't-miss event, since after this exhibition closes, so will much for our community as these change agents begin next steps in advancing their careers. They will be missed but you can still secure a work of art while they are with us. That would be the best way, in my humble opinion, to keep their legacy on the Avenue alive.