Disabling Disabilities

ACTion Art
Artists Creating Together
1140 Monroe Ave. NW
April 8-19 
(616) 885-5866

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
RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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.