Art parties = one big night downtown

Art   parties = one big night downtown

Elijah Brumback

Not since Art Prize has there been an event featuring the Grand Rapids artist community as large as the upcoming one-night festivities slated for Art.Downtown. Friday.

Downtown Grand Rapids will percolate with open gallery shows, free live music, revamped museum exhibits and bar hopping, all conveniently aided by two free trolleys cruising the Heartside district.

The event is an extension of the artist community and downtown Grand Rapid’s Spring For the Arts effort that started in 2007.

In 2009, the event was expanded and grew into a larger branding initiative promoting downtown culture through the work of local artists and loads of volunteer hours.

This year, Art.Downtown. will feature more than 400 hundred local artists and 25 eclectic locations around the city including the Division Avenue Arts Collective, the West Michigan Center for Art and Technology, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art and a multitude other creative outfits.

“We want people to come downtown and stay downtown all evening,” said Jennifer Schaub, event coordinator and associate of the Neighborhood Revitalization Project at Dwelling Place, a co-sponsor of the event. “There will be something for everyone from projections and films, to traditional painting, jam sessions and amazing installation art.”

Of particular note for those affiliated with Grand Valley State University will be the work of fellow students, professors and alumni featured throughout the massive network of exhibits.

“Kendall College and the Downtown Alliance have been a huge part of this event and GVSU has always been blown out of the water by Kendall,” Schaub said. “It’s awesome to see GVSU involved more this year and hopefully even more in the future.”

While the event will feature some of what Schaub describes as Grand Rapids’ “rock star” talent, it is also heavily staked in showcasing student-produced works.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this event, especially because it is so large,” said Alexandra Holton, painter and GVSU senior. “To still be in school and to be asked to be a part of something like this helps keep me inspired to keep making art. As a student it shows you that you can be a part of the art world and also help to inspire your community to be more aware of the arts.”

Holton praised the Grand Rapids art community for being more accessible than most large cities. She is excited about the direction the group Avenue for the Arts is steering the Grand Rapids art community, and she hopes to continue to be around to see the continued changes. Holton also added Grand Rapids is a great inspiration to her work and often directly responsible for the art she creates.

“I think the GR art community has such unique things going for it,” said Stephanie Voeleck, another of GVSU’s featured artists. “It has the grassroots small town feel in a relatively large city. It’s quite ideal actually. It’s the artists that are going to places that big businesses left neglected and making them glow again.”

Voelck said events such as Art.Downtown. and Art Prize are great publicity for the city of Grand Rapids and they touch on what is really important about the neighborhoods, which are the events that get people out, involved and socializing in the urban atmosphere.

Because the event is so enormous, it will be physically impossible to see all the exhibits. But according to Schaub, some of the must-see attractions are: The Mustache Gallery, the Heartside Gallery, the Michigan Land of Riches exhibit, the Kendall studio spaces and the Temporary Spaces works.

Also, Schaub said to be on the look out for the various after parties held in some of the “swankiest” and “phat” pads downtown.

Maps, outlining all the exhibits will be available for all patrons. Art.Downtown will run from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday.

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