To connect and integrate more deeply with all generations and cultures, arts organizations across the United States are spending more time and energy building their engagement efforts with today’s youth. While these organizations have a strong interest in increasing participation among younger adults, they often struggle to sustain interest and attendance. To better understand the motivations of young people, arts organizations in the area are providing opportunities for teens to lead through their own artistic expression. We talked with a handful of local organizations about what those opportunities look like and why they matter.
Holland Symphony Youth Advisory Committee
Dixie Longate embodies everything brilliant about drag. She’s beautiful, buxom and bawdy; she throws shade at everyone in the room and makes them laugh so hard they nearly pee their pants; her entire show is a wildly satirical cultural critique of heteronormativity and capitalism — while simultaneously capitalizing on both; and yet, in the end, she’s really just a big ball of love who makes everybody feel good for having been in her company.
A hint of dance, a dash of American soul, a splash of color and prodigious talent ushered in the Grand Rapids Symphony’s 2017-2018 season on Friday night. This season marks the first under GRS Music Director Lehninger’s full leadership, as well as the orchestra’s return to Carnegie Hall this April.
Preview Week for ArtPrize Nine is underway. As the denizens of West Michigan encounter the “radically open” art competition, New York-based artist Tyler Loftis hopes to convey that high-quality art can be “radically accessible” too.
Andrew Woodstock has garnered national attention for his work. In 2012, his entry Tuskegee Airmen placed in the Top 50 in ArtPrize and now the large-scale watercolor piece resides in its new home at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. His 2016 ArtPrize entry was a little more colorful, but used the same technique as his 2012 Tuskegee Airmen and 2014’s Civil War. Honors and awards include being a featured artist at the Society of Illustrators in New York City and winning ADDY Awards for Excellence in Illustration.
On the Tuesday night after Labor Day weekend, three actors and seven musicians transformed a giant barn in Augusta, Michigan into an outrageously energetic yet intimate and beloved Vegas lounge act. Just as The Barn Theatre morphed into the Sands Hotel and Casino, 2017 became 1960 as tribute artists The Vegas Rat Pack took the stage for the summer stock theater’s final week of performances this season.
Sometimes it pays off to put yourself out there.
For Linda LaFontsee, co-owner of LaFontsee Galleries, the value in art worth collecting distills down to a very personal moment.
“When you first look at a piece of art, your gut reaction is something you should hold onto, because it’s not going to go away.”
Sparking that personal connection is critical to the success of local artists, as well as the vibrancy of an entire community. But artists cannot achieve success without the support of other key players.
Now in its ninth year, ArtPrize continues to grow in both size and scope, drawing more than 500,000 visitors to downtown Grand Rapids. And with hundreds of artists showcasing their work in dozens of venues throughout the city, it certainly feels larger than life during its 19-day run.
Dixie Longate is quite the character, in every sense of the word.
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