Kalamazoo Art Hop
May 5, 5 p.m. Free
Discovering an area's artful offerings can be challenging, whether you're a first-time visitor or a longtime resident. Questions of where to go and what to see abound, but there's one type of event that can easily help provide some answers: a gallery hop.
Gallery hops are community events put together through partnerships between area businesses, artists and organizations with the aim to createan evening of culture, commerce and entertainment. One of the longest-running gallery hops is Kalamazoo's Art Hop, which is celebrating its sixteenth year. Held the first Friday of each month, Art Hop brings droves of people into the downtown area to experience what it has to offer.
Four times a year, Art Hop expands to include more galleries and more businesses, and the second of these expanded evenings take place this month. 53 stops are included on the May 5th event that will run from 5-9p.m.all throughout downtown Kalamazoo.
"Our May event is one of the largest," said Beth McCann, deputy director of the Kalamazoo Area Arts Council, which coordinates the art hops. "We include more of the downtown community, the merchants, restaurants, salons, all kinds of folks."
McCann said the art hops began with only three or four stops but over the years have blossomed into one of the main draws of the downtown area.
"The idea is to come into downtown Kalamazoo, park your car, grab a brochure, and hop from place to place," she said.
Brochures are available at any of the stops and help visitors navigate where they will go and what to expect. McCann said the hops, is a great opportunity for people to try out new places and create an entire evening of activities, including dinner and live music.
Participating artists open their studios, allowing the community to not only see and discuss the work, but also get a sense of where they create their pieces. McCann said this month's hop features a handful of artists that haven't participated before, and the range of mediums will include unique offerings such as bonsai art and glass blowing.
"We try and have something that will appeal to everyone," she said.
For additional fun, Art Hop hosts the free Chalk It Up, which will turn Kalamazoo Mall into a giant chalk mural. Reservations are not required, but they are encouraged for any groups that want to create their art in specific areas. Judges will select first and second place winners and will award $100 and $50 prizes.
OTHER ART EVENTS
GRPS City Wide Art Show
Free for exhibiting students and their families
uica.org, (616) 454-7000
There's nothing quite like a child's imagination, the fruits of which can often be seen clinging to the refrigerators of proud parents. Now there's an opportunity to check out some of what Grand Rapids' youngest artists have been creating throughout the past year, and you can expect much more than finger paintings. The annual spring exhibition highlights the talents of students from 75 K-12 Grand Rapids Public Schools, an eclectic mix of more than 350 works ranging in medium.
Annual Student Exhibition Week
Kendall College of Art and Design
Opening Reception May 7, 4-7p.m.
May 8-10, 9a.m.-9p.m.; May 11, 9a.m.-2p.m.
kcad.edu, (800) 676-2787
Kendall College is home to a wellspring of talented, up-and-coming artists, and this exhibition is one of the few opportunities the community has to see the students' cutting-edge creations. This year's show takes place inside the Old Federal Building, giving the work one of the most beautiful and historical backdrops in Grand Rapids. Undergraduate work and graduate work is on display and ranges from oil painting to fashion design, and during the opening reception, many of the artists will be on hand to discuss their work.
Live Painting: Justin Kellner
May 11, 12-3pm
lafontsee.us, (616) 451-9820
Award-winning artist and Kendall College alumnus Justin Kellner's paintings will be on display through May 24, and for one afternoon he will be in the gallery creating a new piece. Kellner's current body of work contains mixed-media acrylic painting that focuses on the negative impact humankind has on various natural ecosystems, specifically the sulfide mining in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This exhibition is Kellner's first solo show.
Avenue for the Arts, Grand Rapids
April 12, 6 p.m.
Free; $6-$8 for GRAM walking tours
Now in its fifth year, Art.Downtown. continues to bring artists and community members together to celebrate local art.
Lasting one night only April 12 from 6-11 p.m., Art.Downtown. has more than 30 downtown venues featuring more than 300 artists. A broad range of artwork is displayed, including ceramics, painting, photo, performance, music, film and more.
"I think that the thing to know about the event as a whole is that it's very eclectic," said Jenn Schaub, coordinator for Avenue for the Arts.
But one thing will be unifying the event: most of the artists participating have connections to the Grand Rapids region.
"I would say like, 99.9 percent are going to be local," Schaub said.
To help people navigate the event and fit as much as they can into the night, Art.Downtown. brings back the three Grand Rapids trolleys. The trolleys will stop at seven anchor locations including the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM), Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA), Kendall College of Art and Design and Avenue for the Arts.
To further help, volunteers are at these sites to pass out maps. "Badges," a new feature this year, are also used to help attendees. These will show what media are displayed in a location.
Besides bringing artists and community members together, Art.Downtown. gives people the chance to connect with local artists and start a dialogue about the artwork.
"We do a lot to create an infrastructure where there is a conversation about the work that's hung in a space, not just hanging the work," Schaub said.
Most locations have a curator and a documenter who are there to spur on the conversion by asking the audience about what they are seeing, and how they are interacting with the show. Artists will be identified by nametags so people can talk about the work.
"[W]e're really hoping that is a way for people to engage, not just attend," Schaub said.
For people who want to get a more in-depth look at local and regional artists, Art.Downtown. is also partnering with the GRAM to do walking tours, which are $8 for the general public and $6 for members and artists.
"As participants tour Art.Downtown., led by an Avenue for the Arts insider, they will gain insight into the artistic process and what it means to be a local artist working in Grand Rapids, today," said Andrea Morgan, docent coordinator at the GRAM.
This two-hour tour begins in the GRAM galleries and moves on to other venues along the trolley route.
Jessica Hacker, volunteer coordinator for Art.Downtown. and curator at UICA, also hopes the event brings a sense of community and an appreciation for the arts.
She will take over the UICA's retail store as part of its new program this year. The UICA is inviting guest curators to resign the space however they like.
"The feel of the space is going to be really spring oriented" Hacker said." This is the time of year where I really miss nature so bad. I think most people have nostalgia for the outdoors, so it's going to be just a really inviting, welcoming feel with a lot of green (and live plants)."
To keep with the theme of Art.Downtown., Hacker is keeping the space "hyper-local" by giving preference to more than 20 artists who have a history of being active in the neighborhood surrounding the UICA.
"The products on display are going to be a range of local, handmade objects for the body, mind and home," she said.
Artists Creating Together
1140 Monroe Ave. NW
The abilities of art are endless. It can teach, inspire, challenge, and in the case of local organization Artists Creating Together (ACT), it can heal. ACT has been bringing art to children, youth and adults with disabilities since 1986 and is the largest organization of its kind in Michigan. This month, it's hosting "ACTion Art," an exhibition showcasing the work from adults with disabilities from around the state.
"The focus of the program is to give these artists the experience of professionally showing their work and sharing their art work with the larger community," said Becky Baker, program
coordinator at ACT. In addition to exhibiting their work, participating artists have the opportunity to win an ArtPrize Sponsorship Award. Three artists will be selected by a jury to enter their work in this year's ArtPrize competition, something ACT also did last year.
"Helping to break down some of the barriers to participation in ArtPrize is still something that we would like to offer through this program, but we don't want that to be its primary focus," Baker said.
This year's exhibition will focus more on giving the artists the opportunity to connect with other creative types and members of the community.
"These artists who participate have such incredible talent, but so many of them never get this kind of exposure or know how to go about selling their artwork or displaying it in a community venue. We would like to give these artists that experience, working alongside them and guiding them in that process," Baker said.
On Wednesday, April 17, ACT will host an Art and Coffee night, which will be devoted to spurring discussion and forging connections between attending artists.
"This will be a time for participating artists and others guests to gather over coffee and cookies and dialogue about art, their experiences as artists, and more," Baker said.
In addition to hosting unique exhibits like "ACTion Art," the organization formerly known as VSAalso works with individuals with disabilities through school programs, workshops and residencies, hospital projects and a variety of community events.
The work featured in the exhibition was solicited through an Open Call for Work and features more than20 artists in a variety of media.
An artist reception will be held Friday, April 12 from 5-7p.m., and the winners of the ArtPrize Sponsorship Awards will be announced.
Other Art Events
Avenue for the Arts
April 12, 6-11p.m.
avenueforthearts.com, (616) 855-0435
One of the most exciting art events of the year returns this month with more than 300 participating artists and 30 destinations. Three trolleys circle the downtown district, ready to transport you to galleries, restaurants and shops throughout the night. Local artists are on hand to discuss their work, showcase their spaces and show the community what makes the Avenue one of the most treasured areas in town.
Real to Reel: Ai Weiwei Never Sorry
Saugatuck Center for the Arts
April 11, 7p.m.
$5 SCA members/Students
$7 general admission
sc4a.org, (269) 857-2399
Saugatuck Center for the Arts will show the 2012 documentary about Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. Directed by American filmmaker Alyson Klayman, the film follows Weiwei's clashes with the Chinese government and his use of art and social media as means of expression and dissidence.
Art Talks presented by Open Concept Gallery
University Club, 10th Floor, Fifth Third Bank building
April 30, 5:30p.m. Cocktail Hour, 6:15p.m. Dinner, 7:15p.m.Lecture
$25 for Dinner and Lecture; $9 Suggest Donation for Lecture Only
Open Concept Gallery recently began a new lecture series focusing on various issues within the contemporary art world. This month's event features guest speaker Nathan Kemler, Collections Manager from the Grand Valley State University Art Gallery. Kemler will speak about GVSU's various collections and discuss what goes into selecting and acquiring art from an institutional perspective. A three-course dinner will be offered before Kemler's lecture for those who purchase tickets; however, guests are invited to attend the lecture only.
Graphic design gives shape to the thousands of messages we encounter every day — from soup can labels to your favorite online news source. A genre that often goes overlooked in the art world is getting this special treatment this month in a collaborative exhibition between two well-established Grand Rapids arts institutions.
"Graphic Design: Now in Production," the exhibition between the Grand Rapids Art Museum and Kendall College of Art and Design, explores the way designers use color, typography, images and systems to make surfaces around us come alive with meaning. The ambitious exhibition looks at cutting-edge ideas and breaking cultural revolutions in the world of visual communication, paying special attention to examples of the 21st century.
Each site will devote gallery space to different aspects of graphic design, creating cohesive looks at the various manifestations of artform. The Fed Gallery at Kendall will include posters, magazines, books, storefront design, and film and television, while the GRAM will look at typography, branding and identity, and information design.
The exhibition marks a historical moment in the histories of two important institutions as both the GRAM and Kendall have long played integral roles in the art and design culture of the community. Kendall recently expanded its presence downtown, renovating and moving into the Old Federal Building, which was home to the GRAM for quite some time.
It is the first time Kendall and the GRAM have worked on such a project, and GRAM Director and CEO Dana Friis-Hansen said the exciting collaboration "simply makes sense."
"West Michigan is a center for design and creativity," Friis-Hansen said. "GRAM is committed to the presentation and interpretation of design history and contemporary expressions, and Kendall is a recognized leader in design education. The continued collaborative spirit between the two organizations creates a strong base of knowledge and opportunity in the community."
Dr. David Rosen, president of Kendall College of Art and Design, agrees.
"Joining these two extraordinary forces for art and design in the region provides the exhibition even greater energy and meaning. The new relationship brought about by the union is also energizing each of our two exceptional institutions."
The collaboration between Kendall and the GRAM isn't the only partnership taking place. The exhibition was co-organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York. Co-curators of the exhibition are Andrew Blauvelt, curator of architecture and design, Walker Art Center and Ellen Lupton, curator of contemporary design, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.
A variety of additional programming including presentations, lectures and interactive events will be held in conjunction with the exhibitions, creating an environment ripe for discovery, exploration and connection.
OTHER ART EVENTS
A Nickel and a Kopek Photographs by Bill Franson, 1952
Inner City Christian Federation, Grand Rapids
Through April 1
iccf.org, (616) 336-9333
The Inner City Christian Federation occupies one of the most recognized buildings in the Cherry Hill Business District, and the organization has recently begun to host art exhibitions that parallel the beauty of the architecture. Currently on display are a series of black and white photos by Bill Franson over a period of seven years that documents his family's adoption of a child from Russia. The exhibit is on loan from Calvin College and can be viewed Monday-Friday 9a.m.-4p.m.
In Retrospect — James Karsina
LaFontsee Gallery, Grand Rapids
Through March 23
lafontsee.us, (616) 451-9820
This month, a retrospective of one of Grand Rapids' most celebrated artists will be on display, showcasing more than 30 years of work. Karsina is known for his bold palette and abstract explorations of the environments of the Midwest. His pieces have been shown all over the country and are collected in more than 40 corporate collections and 450 private collections. New and old works ranging from delicate drawings on paper to bold acrylics on canvas will be featured, an explosive mix ready to be rediscovered or seen for the first time.
Reflections: African American Life from the Myrna Colley-Lee Collection
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
March 2–May 26
$5, $2 for students
kiarts.org, (269) 349-7775
Costume designer and heralded arts patron Myrna Colley-Lee shares 50 works of her collection, creating a narrative of community and place. Paintings, collages and fabric works are among the mediums found in this selection that focuses on the figurative and representational to depict scenes and landscapes of the American South. Noted artists such as Romare Bearden, James VanDerZee, Elizabeth Catlett, Eudora Welty and Betye Saar are among the works featured in the exhibition, which was organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington DC, in collaboration with the office of Myrna Colley-Lee.