Feel the Vibe: The Artist Studio as Gathering Space

Downtown Grand Rapids

April 11, 6 -11 p.m.
avenueforthearts.com, (616) 454-0928

The Next Show
Gallerie Art Haus, Grand Rapids

April 12, 6-10 p.m.
galleriearthaus.com, (616) 638-6885

One of the ways to really get to know a city’s vibe is to find the arts district and spend a little time hanging out.

Art tells stories of time and place, even while being timeless and universal. Artists reveal truths about humankind within the context of their cultural and historical setting.

While the Grand Rapids arts district may not yet evoke the legendary vibe of SoHo or the Left Bank, it is a growing presence that contributes to the vitality and depth of the city’s narrative. This narrative grows richer as the stories are exchanged with the broader community, and a way to encourage this exchange is to open the doors to the studios and invite the public in to the conversation.

Two different and interesting events this month offer just such an invitation.

The fifth annual Art.Downtown. event on Friday, April 11 features several hundred artists showing in galleries, businesses and studio spaces. More than 400 artists in 40 venues are found along the route, all within walking distance of the downtown core. A free trolley is available as well, with friendly volunteer guides handing out maps and providing information along the way.

The event, which includes large art institutions, smaller artist loft studios along Division Avenue and everything in between, brings a hustle and bustle to the area with visitors from near and far exploring the many opportunities to connect with artists. The event grows every year, adding new energy and new surprises to discover.

“We have an exciting group of new venues and artists participating this year,” said Event Coordinator Liz Hertl, noting a couple of examples such as viewing university art students’ work at the DeVos Skywalk and Cathedral Square, and the Grand Rapids Ballet Company performing on an unconventional stage at the Harris Building. 

After a Friday evening wearing comfortable shoes and hopping from place to place, you just might be in the mood for a more stationary, low-key and intimate experience the following day.

As the Grand Rapids art district grows, so too does the collaborative efforts among artist-entrepreneurs to create a year-round opportunity for the public to visit working studios. Converted warehouses and factories offer the chance to visit multiple artists in one large location. One such place is Gallerie Art Haus on Oakland off Market Avenue.

“There’s strength in numbers when we combine forces,” said Co-Founder Mark Bird. “And there’s a unique connection for people when they look at art where it is made as opposed to alone on a gallery wall.”

On Saturday, April 12 the Gallerie Art Haus presents “The Next Show,” the second in its bi-monthly exhibition series located in the common space of the building complex. The casual open house atmosphere includes works of art for sale by resident artists and invited guests, a variety of performance art, and this month’s musical guest is DJ Shamar Alef Ben-Yasara'El. For a list of participating artists visit the Gallerie Art Haus web page.



Hastings Downtown Sculpture Exhibit
Downtown Hastings

Through April 30, 2014
downtownhastings.com, (269) 945-2468

The fourth annual exhibit features 21 unique sculptures placed at locations of close proximity for walking throughout downtown Hastings. An advisory committee of local residents, artists, art enthusiasts and art instructors selected seven of the sculptures, procured by Midwest Sculpture Initiative (MSI). Four of the sculptures are from local artists and there are 14 sculptures that have been purchased and gifted back to the City for permanent display. A brochure with a map is available inside City Hall on East State Street.

Impressions of South Haven
South Haven Center for the Arts

April 25-June 1, 2014
southhavenarts.org, (269) 637-1041

The theme for the Members’ Show 2014 is “Impressions of South Haven,” with an opening reception from 5-7 p.m. on April 25. The exhibition features art in a variety of mediums selected from among the works submitted by SHCA members.

Buster Keaton’s Bluffton: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan
Muskegon Museum of Art

Through May 25, 2014
muskegonartmuseum.org, (231) 720-2570

Step back into local history and the heyday of vaudeville and Buster Keaton with an exhibition of original illustrations from the novel Bluffton, My Summers with Buster Keaton by Pennsylvania-based artist and Newbery Medal winner Matt Phelan. Bluffton tells the story of Henry, a young boy who befriends the most famous resident of Muskegon’s Bluffton neighborhood Actors' Colony. Related programming includes film screenings and an historical Bluffton walking tour.