Make the Most of ArtPrize 2013 with a Walking Tour of Grand Rapids

ArtPrize 2013 kicks off in just a couple of weeks! From September 18 – October 6, artists and visitors from around the world will flock to Downtown Grand Rapids to display and see artwork.

If you’re heading to the event for the first time or just want to see more of what the area has to offer, a walking tour is a great way to do so! Kristin Coppens of Blue Cross Blue Shield fills us in on an Art Walk that’s being offered on Saturday, September 21st during the first weekend of ArtPrize.

ArtPrize is about to kick off the fifth year of being a world-renowned art phenomenon. The competition is the world’s largest art prize decided upon by public vote and has transformed the Grand Rapids community with a vision of integration and creativity.

The 19-day competition offers plenty to see throughout the Grand Rapids city limits, along with a calendar chock full of events that supplement the art. Wondering the best way to see the over 1,500 entries this year? Make your way through the ArtPrize locales by way of Art Walk.

Walking is a great way to boost physical activity and exercise. In addition to weight loss, walking strengthens cardiovascular abilities, lowers disease and cancer risk, and helps keep bones and joints strong in situations like arthritis. 30 minutes of physical activity is recommended five days a week; however, you can accomplish those goals in shorter 10-minute increments throughout the day.

Sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Wolverine Worldwide, both ArtPrize sponsors, Art Walk incorporates the ArtPrize entries with a health component. Taking place on Saturday, September 21st this year, Art Walk is comprised of both guided (by ArtPrize volunteers) and self-guided options.

Art Walk will kick things off at 8:30AM with opening comments from Jeff Connolly of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blake Krueger of Wolverine Worldwide. There will then be a guided warm-up exercise with a provided fitness professional before the 9:00AM start of the walk. The guided portion is expected to complete by approximately 11:00AM. Additionally, Wolverine Worldwide and Blue Care Network of Michigan will both have various tents set up at Rosa Parks Circle with health information, footwear, fitness information, goodies, and more.

With two different routes, ArtWalk will take participants through two of the five total neighborhoods hosting art. The first route will be through the Center City neighborhood, a total of one mile. The second route will take participants through the Westside neighborhood for a total of 2.2 miles. Each route will begin and end at Rosa Parks Circle downtown; there will be snacks and water provided between routes.

Art Walk is a great way to kick off the first weekend of ArtPrize and see a great deal of this year’s entries during the first round of voting. Walkers are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water bottles with them. No registration required; we look forward to seeing you!

Kristin Coppens is responsible for blogging and social media at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan throughout the West Michigan region. Kristin is a writer, social media enthusiast, and information junkie. A self-proclaimed foodie, techie, and political nerd, she is a dedicated promoter of Grand Rapids community development, urban engagement, arts, healthcare, wellness, supporting and buying local, entrepreneurism, and the city as a whole.

Photos included are by Ian Anderson of StellaFly, Courtesy of ArtPrize.

Will you be checking out Art Walk during ArtPrize? Let us know in the comments section below!

Experience the Magic of Classical Music with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Have you ever experienced the world of classical music? The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is something Michiganders and visitors alike don’t want to miss. Today, Leonard Slatkin, Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, fills us in on the history behind the DSO and what’s new for concert goers this year.

Join Leonard for a live webcast this Sunday, November 11th at and follow #DSOLive on Twitter. Let us know if you tune in, or if you’re planning to check out an event in person this season!

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your background like and what led to you becoming Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra?

A: I come from a musical family and my previous music directorships were with the St. Louis Symphony and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C.  In addition to my role in Detroit, I am also currently the music director of France’s Orchestre National de Lyon and principal guest conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Q: What do concert goers seem most excited about when attending a DSO performance?

A: The live experience. There can be almost 2,000 people in the hall but there are also 2,000 opinions as to how they enjoyed, or did not enjoy, the concert.

Q: What makes the DSO, Orchestra Hall and the Max M. Fisher Music Center unique?

A: As one of the great halls of the world it is inviting both visually and acoustically.  Musicians love playing here and the intimacy and warmth of our beautiful home make the audience feel very much a part of the DSO family.  We’re also excited to be situated in the heart of midtown, near our friends at the DIA, Wayne State, and the Detroit Medical Center, and playing our role in the revitalization of our city.

Q: What do you like most about working in Detroit?

A: The spirit of optimism that prevails throughout the city. We never give up because it just simply is not the Detroit way.  And as many people know, I’m a diehard baseball fan who tries to never miss a Tigers game when I’m in Detroit.

Q: What’s new for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this year?

A: We’ve hired several key new musicians, all immensely talented and many of them settling in Detroit, including concertmaster (Yoonshin Song), principal flute (David Buck), English horn (Monica Fosnaugh), French horn (Johanna Yarbrough), principal percussion (Joe Becker) and strings (Sheryl Hwangbo, Rachel Harding Klaus, Peter McCaffrey and David LeDoux).  Turning to our programs this season, we perform all nine Beethoven symphonies this February, all of which you can experience at Orchestra Hall or online at, and all four Ives symphonies, which we’re taking to New York City as part of two back-to-back performances at Carnegie Hall, the orchestra’s first visit to that legendary stage in 17 years.

Q: What concert would you recommend to someone who has never experienced a live classical concert?

A: At the DSO we have programs to fit a variety of tastes.  For some it might be a Pops concert, like Home for the Holidays or the Music of Lennon & McCartney; for others it’s an educational event featuring the talented students of our Civic Youth Ensembles.  A good place to first experience our classical offerings would be the December performances of excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.

Q: How are the Live from Orchestra Hall webcasts and other digital initiatives expanding the DSO’s impact?

A: It is still too early to know but with over twenty five webcasts so far, it is clear that we have expanded our audience base to a global perspective – we’ve had viewers tune in from over 75 countries.  There is no question in my mind that this is the path to the future and we are proud to be the first orchestra to make ourselves available to music lovers for free on the web and through mobile devices.  Our Community Concerts and Neighborhood Series, both of which take us into venues throughout southeast Michigan, have also contributed to remarkable audience growth this past year.

View a Live from Orchestra Hall encore clip below:

Leonard Slatkin, called “America’s Music Director” by the Los Angeles Times, became Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2008, having previously held that position with the St. Louis and National symphony orchestras.  Leonard also currently serves as Music Director of the Orchestre National de Lyon and Principal Guest Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony and appears regularly with the world’s leading orchestras.  An avid fan of the Tigers since joining the DSO, Leonard and his wife, composer Cindy McTee, live in Bloomfield Hills.



Merry-Not-Scary Family Fun at ZooBoo

Looking for something fun to do with your family to get into the Halloween spirit? There’s still plenty of time to check out The Great ZooBoo at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek! Today, Kari Parker, Binder Park Zoo’s marketing manager, fills us in on this family-friendly event and other happenings at the zoo this year.

Q: What is ZooBoo and who should attend ZooBoo?

A: The Great ZooBoo is a merry not scary Halloween event that has been ongoing and beloved by families and Zoo visitors for 26 years.  This ever popular trick-or-treating experience is a wonderful way for families to be immersed in a festive fall atmosphere, while creating memories with their children.  What better way to celebrate fall than meandering through the Zoos many trails of lighten jack-o-lanterns with crunchy leaves underfoot while sipping hot apple cider!  Weather depending, visitors will even get to see some of our more cold weather-hardy animals like the American black bear cubs that we rescued from Alaska this past summer or the graceful and endearing snow leopards among others.

Q: What’s the history of ZooBoo at Binder Park Zoo and how has it grown over the years?

A: Binder Park Zoo first opened in 1977 as a small children’s petting zoo. With great dreams and aspirations a team of dedicated volunteers and staff set out to mold and shape Binder Park Zoo into the leading cultural attraction it is known for today.  With the growth of the Zoo came new exhibits and events like The Great ZooBoo.  In 1987 the very first ZooBoo took place and remains much the same today, a merry-not-scary family Halloween event.  ZooBoo has been added to the must do list for families for years and continues to be a fall tradition that many look forward too.  Binder Park Zoo is a non profit so we rely on gate admissions and fundraising events like The Great ZooBoo to help feed and care for our animals.  The funds raised during ZooBoo allow us to feed and care for our animals all winter long.  There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes and even though we close for the winter we still have a group of dedicated fulltime zookeepers working around the clock to look after all of our animals.  When families come to The Great ZooBoo, not only are they spending time together and making memories, they are helping to instill a love for nature in their children and helping us to continue our many conservation efforts.

Q: What are some new attractions or activities at this year’s ZooBoo?

A: Halloween wouldn’t be complete without trick-or-treating, and The Great ZooBoo offers that and lots more!  The Miller Children’s Zoo is transformed from a petting zoo into the exciting BooVille Carnival where youngsters can enjoy the carnival atmosphere and play a variety of games to win fun prizes. The Binda Conservation Discovery Center will also be open, offering a place where children can view several small animal exhibits, participate in interactive activities, and take in the nightly entertainment venues. As always, there will be hayrides, train rides, and a festive fall atmosphere like none other!

Q: Are there other fun events or activities happening at Binder Park Zoo this fall?

A: During our winter months the Zoo is anything but still!  We offer a variety of educational opportunities for children like the popular Knee-High Naturalists, a program perfect for your pint-sized conservationist.  All of our education programs are designed with kids in mind and provide an outlet for little ones to express creativity, explore nature and wildlife, as well as to broaden their world of experiences.  As a leader in conservation education, approximately 75,000 children and adults received the benefits of the Zoo’s formal and informal education programs.  Our strongest educational efforts take place here at the Zoo through the roughly one third of a million people who visit each year.

In addition to off season education programs each year, the Zoo offers an event called Holiday Nights in December. This is a wonderful way to experience wintry evenings at Binder Park Zoo. Guests stroll along lighted paths and can view some of our weather-hardy animals on exhibit enjoying the winter season. These special evenings include carousel rides, special holiday activities, dinner with Santa and his animal friends, and story time with Mrs. Claus. Holiday Nights run each evening December 14-16 & December 20-23.

Q: What types of conservation programs is the Zoo currently involved it?

A: Binder Park Zoo is home to 38 endangered or threatened species and participates in 18 different Species Survival Plans (SSP) and 20 Population Management Plans (PMP).  Global conservation efforts take place at Binder Park Zoo in cooperation with organizations like the International Snow Leopard Trust and the Cheetah Conservation Fund, in Kenya Africa.  The Zoo also participates in local conservation restoration efforts as well like the Michigan Piping Plover Recovery Program, Karner Blue Butterfly conservation, Adopt and Beach and Highway programs and helped contribute to the success of the bald eagle’s comeback.

Q: Where can people go for more information?

A: For more information about Binder Park Zoo, visit or call the Zoo office at (269) 979-1351. To stay on top of all the latest Zoo news, find Binder Park Zoo on Facebook.

Kari Parker has been the Marketing Manager for Binder Park Zoo for a total of 8 years. She received her education at Western Michigan University where she earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree specializing in marketing.

Are you planning to attend ZooBoo at Binder Park Zoo? If you’re looking for something closer to home, here’s a list of several other Michigan zoos taking part in similar events:

For other ZooBoo and Halloween-themed events happening across the state, visit