In 2008, a then-new Local Works study revealed that more than 60 percent of every $100 spent at a locally owned store is reinvested in the community, compared to just 43 percent from non-local store spending. But I think if you were to hang with the artists of our community, you would find, as I have, that our artists in our city are very generous, often taking proceeds from a sale and buying the work of other artists.
This weekend I want to suggest four artist-driven market events where you can invest a little but make a huge impact in the lives of many.
Uptown Holiday Shop Hop:
Thursday, December 4, 4 - 10 p.m.
The first really big kick-off market in December each year for as long as I can recall, the Shop Hop is located across four neighborhood business districts in the Uptown region of Grand Rapids. But since I am devoting this entry to galleries that focus on art by local artists, please consider adding to your must-stop-by list these neighborhood favorites: LaFontsee Gallery, Rich App Gallery, East Fulton Arts and Antiques, and Acorn Studios. Many places also are featuring local artists like Salon re: which is showcasing Paul Jendrasiak's photo works.
Avenue for the Arts' First Friday: Friday, December 5, 5 - 8:00 p.m.
This Holiday Edition of their monthly First Friday event will showcase jewelry, clothing, accessories, home decor, knitted accessories, paintings, prints, ceramics, photographs, and other giftable items in shops that include Vertigo Music, Have Company, Parliament the Boutique, The Local Epicurean, or any one of the galleries on the S. Division strip.
Holiday Artists Market: NEW VENUE ALERT - Steelcase Town Hall, 901 44th St. SE, Saturday, Dec. 6, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. & Sunday, Dec. 7, noon - 5 p.m.
One of the city's largest holiday artists markets has outgrown its own space so it is off to a bigger venue, and this time it lands on the south side of the city with a venue fitting for such a large offering. More than 50 artists to visit and choose from, so what are you waiting for, a map? (Click here for your map.)
Vinecroft Artists Market: Saturdays, Dec. 6 & 13, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
At Vinecroft Artists Market this year, you are sure to see a lot of your favorite artisan's handwork, from wooden bowls, letterpress note cards, photographs, woodblock prints, felted figurines, platters, one-of-a-kind jewelry, and handknited hats from any one of the 12 artists exhibiting at this annual event.
But this year, as you stop by Fred and Gina's booth space at this popular artists workshop/gathering place, something will be missing, and that is why you will see a lot of hugs and maybe a few tears. On Wednesday, Nov. 26, their darling daughter Christina
silently passed away while in her chair reading a book.
Chris touched many in our community as she followed very closely in her parents' footsteps, whose reputation for service to community, art, and historical story-keeping in our region is truly inspiring. Chris mirrored her parents' light in our community and this week her funeral and visitation services featured packed lines as long as 45 minutes to greet the parents and her siblings.
I personally have never witnessed such an outpouring of grief, but also never so much love and light. It is my hope that in the spirit of Thanksgiving that we will remember that people like Chris represent what is possible when you devote yourself to making the city a better place for everyone.
And while I will see her touch everywhere I go in the city going forward, I will miss her warm smile in this world but know that where ever she is now, Chris is making that place better for those around her. She was an angel who brought light to all she touched but sadly left us too soon.
As Gina said at the visitation I attended earlier this week, "Look around this room. This is the result of one person stepping forward to become involved. I wonder who will come in to fill this void." I echo Gina's observation. Is it you?
Admission: Free (to spend liberally.)