Four Ways to Experience Arts and Culture in Grand Rapids

If you’re looking for unique arts and culture events, a visit to Grand Rapids is in order. From LiveArts, an extraordinary, collaborative stage production, to the amazing beauty of the new Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, you’ll want to catch everything that’s happening in Grand Rapids this spring.

Here are four ways to experience the arts on Michigan’s west side from Experience Grand Rapids. 

1. LiveArts

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 1.27.00 PMFor starters, you won’t want to miss LiveArts, a multi-media extravaganza about the vital role arts plays in our lives. LiveArts takes place at Van Andel Arena on April 24 and is a unique collaboration between the Grand Rapids Symphony, Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra, Grand Rapids Ballet, Opera Grand Rapids, and Broadway Grand Rapids.

The performance will include 1,500 performers and feature highlights from familiar music, like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” and Beethoven’s “Choral” Symphony No. 9, as well as dancing, visual effects, and more.

As you watch and listen, you’ll be drawn into the story of a young boy who discovers his passion for the cello and follow his journey as he attempts to master the instrument. Instead of taking place entirely on a traditional stage, LiveArts is creatively using multiple levels in the production.

Another unique component, says Roger Nelson, Vice President and COO for the Symphony, is the addition of visual elements. “In an ordinary concert presentation of the symphony, we ask people to use their imagination,” he says. “This show is different because in addition to hearing the music and watching the performers, people will see coordinated lighting, graphical images, and larger-than-life images of the performers.”

You can click here to read more about LiveArts in our first post on the event. Or, click here to buy tickets for LiveArts.

2. DisArt Festival

For 2 weeks, from April 10 – April 25, venues throughout Grand Rapids will host an international exhibition of artwork by artists with disabilities for the DisArt Festival. The 16-day festival will feature innovative work by over 35 international artists, with the aim of changing public perceptions about disability and connecting people through art.

DisArt logo[1]Head to the GRAM at 6PM on April 10th to hear the Curator Talk that kicks off the DisArt Festival, then join the fun at other kick-off events that will take place throughout the evening at a number of venues around Grand Rapids. During the festival, you’ll have the opportunity to view a film festival, a fashion show, several cultural education events, and dance performances as well as more traditional art exhibits. Check here for a complete list of DisArt Festival events.

When you visit the DisArts Festival you’ll also have the opportunity to see the U.S. premiere of Art of the Lived Experiment, which will be on display at three downtown locations: the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM), Kendall College of Art and Design, and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (UICA). Art of the Lived Experiment was curated by artist Aaron Williamson for the U.K’s DaDaFest International 2014 and includes a range of artworks, from sculpture and painting to photography and ceramics, by artists from around the world. The collection will remain in Grand Rapids through July 31st

Another exhibition you can see both during and post-festival is artist Riva Lehrer’s The Risk Pictures. Lehrer’s work has been displayed at the United Nations and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, among other locations. Visitors to Grand Rapids can see The Risk Pictures at The Richard App Gallery from April 11 – through June 30th. M

For more information, visit the DisArts Festival website.

3. The Discovery of King Tut Exhibit

For an entirely different kind of experience, check out the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s super cool exhibit, The Discovery of King Tut, which opens May 16 and runs through January 2016.

Photo courtesy of the Grand Rapids Public Museum

Photo courtesy of the Grand Rapids Public Museum

King Tut (short for Tutankhamen) became pharaoh when he was only 8-years old and died mysteriously about 11 years later. For unknown reasons, his name was erased from Egyptian monuments and he was all but forgotten until British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered his tomb in 1922.

Two parts comprise the exhibition at the Grand Rapids Public Museum: First, you’ll be transported, via media, thousands of years back in time to the world that existed when King Tut ruled. Next, you’ll learn how Howard Carter discovered his tomb all those years later.

The second part of the exhibition is a reproduction of the three incredible burial chambers discovered by Carter. The exhibit uses scientifically produced reconstructions of the chambers and their contents, so you’ll essentially see what Howard Carter saw when he made the discovery.

You can read more details and find ticket information on the GRPM website.

4. The Grand Opening of The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden at Frederik Meijer Gardens

Photo courtesy of Dean Van Dis

Photo courtesy of Dean Van Dis

If you’ve been to beautiful Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, you’re not alone. With more than 550,000 visitors annually, it’s a destination that attracts people from all over the world to see sculptures by artists like Rodin and Moore, explore the latest gallery exhibits, play in the magnificent children’s gardens, enjoy Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory (wonderful anytime of year but especially nice to visit in the winter), take in a summer concert, or stroll through the bountiful outdoor gardens and—one of my kids favorites—Michigan’s Farm Garden.

Beginning June 13, 2015 visitors can add the 8 ½ acre Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden to their list of must-see exhibits.

The Japanese garden represents the culmination of 3+ years of hard work, begun in 2012 following the initial idea proposed by Fred Meijer in 2009. Designed by Hoichi Kurisu, president and founder of Kurisu International, Inc., the Japanese garden is in an ideal setting that includes elevation changes in addition to a variety of horticultural elements, including scenic bridges and waterfalls. As you walk through and explore the new Japanese garden, you can expect to find tranquility and simplicity in its beauty.

Photo courtesy of Dean Van Dis

Photo courtesy of Dean Van Dis

In a departure from traditional Japanese gardens, the Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden will also contain sculptures, in keeping with Frederik Meijer Gardens’ dual mission of horticulture and sculpture. To honor the essence of the Japanese garden tradition and philosophy, these contemporary sculptures will offer thoughtful and thought-providing aesthetics amidst the naturally peaceful setting.

For more information on the grand opening of The Richard and Helen DeVos Japanese Garden, click here.

So many events, all in one place: it’s time to experience Grand Rapids!

Five Spectacular Michigan Destinations Nominated for 8th Wonder of the World

We all know that Michigan is a beautiful state and home to some pretty amazing places, but are we home to any “wonders of the world?” Travel website Virtual Tourist is on a quest to find the 8th Wonder of the World, and several Michigan spots are in the running.

Below see a roundup of the Michigan destinations up for the title and vote for your favorite here from now through September 30th.  

What do you consider the “8th Wonder of the World?” Tell us in the comments below.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Empire, Mich.
Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore encompasses a 60 km (35 mi.) stretch of Lake Michigan’s eastern coastline, as well as North and South Manitou Islands. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park was established primarily for its outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations and ancient glacial phenomena. Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Lakeshore also contains many cultural features including an 1871 lighthouse, three former Life-Saving Service/Coast Guard Stations and an extensive rural historic farm district. Learn more about the Sleeping Bear Dunes here.

Frankenmuth
Frankenmuth, Mich.
Willkommen. In German it means welcome. In Frankenmuth, Michigan’s Little Bavaria, welcome to family time, welcome to playtime, welcome to Christmas time all year long. It’s a place with horse-drawn carriages and covered bridges, riverboat cruises and world famous chicken dinners, big water parks and small-town strolls. Frankenmuth is the perfect place to simplify the agenda and spend the whole day with family. Frankenmuth is a place to enjoy the simple things in life. More information can be found on Frankenmuth’s website and in the video below.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Grand Rapids, Mich.
One of the world’s most significant botanic and sculpture experiences, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park serves more than a half-million visitors annually. Meijer Gardens was recently ranked in the top 100 most-visited art museums worldwide by Art Newspaper, the leading publication in global art news. The 132-acre grounds feature Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory; one of the largest children’s gardens in the country; arid and Victorian gardens with bronze sculptures by Degas and Rodin; a carnivorous plant house; outdoor gardens; and a 1900-seat outdoor amphitheater, featuring an eclectic mix of world-renowned musicians every summer. The internationally acclaimed Sculpture Park features a permanent collection including works by Rodin, Oldenburg, Moore, Bourgeois and Plensa, among others. Indoor galleries host changing sculpture exhibitions with recent exhibitions by Picasso, Degas, di Suvero, Borofsky, Calder and Chadwick. Click here for more information.

Soo Locks
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
The Soo Locks have already been referred to as one of the great wonders of the world and are still the largest & one of the busiest waterway traffic systems on earth! Watching huge vessels pass through the Locks is a unique experience that cannot be seen anywhere else in the United States! The Locks consist of two canals and four locks that allow vessels of many types/sizes to safely traverse the 21-foot drop in elevation of the St. Mary’s River between Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan and Huron. From viewing decks, you can watch “Lakers” and “Salties” (ocean-going vessels) as they travel the seaway between ports and navigate the rise/drop of the water levels. More information can be found at the Soo Locks website.

Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area
Saugatuck, Mich.
The Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area is a 173-acre tract of magnificent duneland along the Lake Michigan shore owned by the City of Saugatuck. The land is home to several species of rare plants, birds and animals, and demonstrates the unique geological and ecological features of Great Lakes dunes. It’s freshwater parabolic dunelands are designated by The National Trust as one of the 11 most endangered ecosystems in the world. The Natural Area is open year round and guided walks are held every Saturday morning at 10 am from May 25, 2013 to Sept 14, 2013.

Head over to the 8th Wonder of the World contest page to cast your vote today!