Hey, Ladies

Hard Femme
Con Artist Crew Gallery, Grand Rapids
Aug. 10, 7 p.m.

Hard Femme brings together more than 15 artists that each explore themes related to femininity, and promises to be much more than a salute to the ever-inspiring lady lumps.

Curator Miranda Sharp said the Aug. 10 show contains work that shows you don’t have to be weak to be feminine.

“The work deals with having feminine traits but still being kick ass,” she said.

When Sharp began brainstorming for the exhibition, she originally envisioned it as an all-female show, but thought that limiting the roster to ladies-only would eliminate the possibility of fully exploring the ever-changing face of femininity.

The exhibition includes a range of media including painting, photography and sculpture. Local artist Robert Coombs will be one of the male artists included in the exhibition. His photo series “Disabilities and Sexuality” was one of five finalists in the 2-D juried award in last year’s ArtPrize competition.

“His work is wonderful,” Sharp said. “We’re so excited to feature it in this show.”

The term ‘hard femme’ is often used as a gender identifier in LGBT communities, yet Sharp said the phrase is becoming synonymous with anyone who partners feminine qualities with all-around bad assery. Part of the exhibition’s goal is to challenge gender perspectives and get people thinking about what effects phrases like these can have.

In addition to featured works, representatives from The Bandit Zine, the “always free, always radical” local submission-based publication will be on hand passing out the latest issue that focuses on “radical self love.” Previous issues have dealt with a range of themes including sexual and gender identity, and you may have seen its adorable raccoon logo gracing the covers in a variety of local shops and businesses.

Sharp said there will be a few surprises at the show and anyone who’s attended a show at the Con Artist Crew gallery knows that expecting the unexpected is par for the course.

“Working with Con Artist Gallery was a perfect fit,” Sharp said. “We developed the idea a lot together and it turned out better than I could have imagined.”

Sharp is a Grand Rapid-based illustrator who received her BFA from Kendall College of Art and Design in 2012. She will have paintings included in the show and said her work always involves sweetyet-sinister themes revolving around dessert, danger and heroines.

Photo: "Baller" by Robert Andy Coombs


Dream Fields by Andrea Kowch
Muskegon Museum of Art

Aug. 15-Oct. 27
Artist Reception
Aug. 15, 5:30 p.m.; Artist Talk, 7 p.m.
muskegonartmuseum.org, (231) 720-2570

Andrea Kowch has been described as a "powerful voice emerging, demonstrating a highly sensitive consciousness that informs a culturally-laced symbolism." Dream Fields features 12 paintings and related preliminary drawings by the Michigan-born artist. Her work reflects influences of Northern Renaissance and American art to the rural landscapes and vernacular architecture of her native Michigan. Kowch has exhibited at museums, shows and galleries all over the country including Art Basel Miami, the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Brooklyn Art Gallery. The exhibition is part of the Muskegon Museum of Art's new "Made in Michigan Artists" series and builds upon the MMA's longstanding tradition of featuring visual media by contemporary Michigan artists

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
Aug. 6 & Aug. 13, noon
Free; donations welcome
kiarts.org, (269) 349-7775

On Tuesday afternoons, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts hosts ARTbreak, a series that highlights a different artists or theme each week. On Aug. 6, a documentary about Tanaka Kyokusho, a highly celebrated bamboo artist who combines traditional technique with contemporary sensibilities is featured. The Aug. 13 event will screen an American Visions documentary that explores the influence of European Modernism on American art, narrated by Time magazine art critic Robert Hughes. Each event is free and open to the public, who are welcomed to bring a bag lunch. Coffee and snacks are provided. For a complete list of event topics, please visit the KIA’s website.

Friday Nights at the GRAM
Grand Rapids Art Museum
Every Friday, 5-9 p.m.
$5/Free for Members
artmuseumgr.org, (616) 831-1000

Take a break from your usual Friday night haunt and unwind with a dose of culture, courteousy of the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Each Friday this month features live music, cash bar, extended gallery hours and a Friday Night Conversation led by guest speakers, community leaders and artists. Plus, the GRAM on the Green program brings music and entertainment to the steps of the museum with performances from local bands and free activities taking place in the Rosa Parks Circle plaza. August is the last month of the summer programming, so mark your calendars.