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The imaginative world of connecting to others

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

Three artists create worlds that cultivate a positive impact on their viewers, and community
Artist Hugo Claudin in his venue, Mexicains Sans Fronteries

Artist Hugo Claudin in his venue, Mexicains Sans Fronteries /Imaged used with permission from the Artist

During First Friday's: The Market be sure to check out:

First Friday's: The Market is bustling outdoor arts market located on South Divsion from Weston to Cherry.

Everyone of all ages are invited on Friday, August 5th from 6pm-9pm.




Crush Art Vendor Booth

Crush Art Vendor Booth /Imaged used with permission from the Artist

Artist Marco Riolo and his Gumball Monster creations

Artist Marco Riolo and his Gumball Monster creations /Imaged used with permission from the Artist

Hugo Claudin has been a pillar of the alternative art and underground music industry for over ten years. A radical advocate for cultural growth he explains, “It was not until I visited a migrant camp that I knew [things] were wrong.” He walked away feeling as though cultural differences in Grand Rapids were not embraced. Today, Claudin's venue, Mexicains Sans Frontieres provides a musical haven that is an alternative to traditional venues. A space for people who celebrate artistic expression, the venue is bright, energetic and intimate. A resident along the Avenue for the Arts for over a decade, Mexicains Sans Fronteries recently won the title for best alternative gallery in Revue Magazine through public vote. His artistic and cultural identity shape the enviroment of Mexicains Sans Fronteries. His vision “was a mission to find the other. It is important for the youth to see what is out there other than what is the status quo.  I like the underdog, the other, the hidden, and the mysterious. Most of the musicians that come through my place are part of this community,  the Weirdo nation,”

Originally from Fort Lauderdale Brittney Noelle, aka CRUSH Art, relocated to West Michigan three months ago. She found herself interested in Michigan's art trends, “If I want to evolve as an artist I need to experience different people and lifestyles,” she said, “Michigan is something I am still trying to figure out.” Life in Michigan pushes her out of her comfort zone, encouraging her to meet new artists and build business opportunities. “Moving to a new city where I know no one is super exciting and super depressing at the same time,” CRUSH Art is as bold, bright, colorful, and unapologetic as Brittney’s personality which reflects her dynamic life experiences. “Graffiti, Surf and Art are the three words to describe CRUSH Art,” she explains. While her artwork begins as something personal, her audience connects to the finished product drawing on emotional elements from their own lives. “Everyone has a spot in the wave, but we all share the same wave," she described.

Inspiration for her gallery exbibition at"Up in Smoke" at Smoking J’s (133 S. Division) came from the friend who passed away. For Brittney, this was a way to connect herself with the feeling of losing a friend. Art is a way to express her feelings, and challenge herself, but she sticks to what she feels is authentic, "Find a space that is your own, with a door, to close off as a 'safe haven'”, Brittney said, “Hang up a board, calendar, and notes to yourself. Write yourself a letter why you started, why do you want to be an artist, and  positive affirmations.”

Using art as tool to embody emotions and build connections between the artist and the audience is also integral to artist, Marco Riolo. He creates joy and connects to people through his custom illustrations named Gumball Monsters. Riolo’s Gumball Monsters are fantastical and magical custom illustrations and exhibit his unique strength of focusing on the positive possibilities in life. His grandmother encouraged him to meet many people with different cultures, experiences, and life journeys.

Gumball Monsters are guardians of good and they fight off nay-sayers and hate in the world. “Magical, imaginative, and awesome” are three words he chose to describe Gumball Monsters. This is an interactive artistic encounter with Riolo during which he conducts a mini interview to get a sense of a person’s expressed inner fears, desires, and dreams. “Everything has fantasy in it, everything has impossible in  it. I believe it is where I come from and makes life amazing because it makes the world a better place.” “The fantasy world is something that I believe can help empower others,” he said about increasing possibility thinking, “It’s the reality of a creative and imaginative mind. It is the ability to enjoy our imagination.” He expresses his passion for life to help make the world a happier place as a methodology best described as to “love on each other.” This encapsulates his life perspective and the way he treats everyone.

Don’t miss your opportunity to connect with these three fantastic local artists during Avenue for the Art’s First Friday's: The Market on August 5th from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.

  • Hugo Claudin’s music venue Mexicains Sans Frontieres is located at 120 Division Ave S. Apt 226 and is hosting an Mr Tim Kaiser with Special Guest Jeremy M. Ensley 8-10 PM, entry fee is $10.
  • CRUSH Art's opening "Up in Smoke" will be at Smoking J’s located at 133 S. Division and will be up through August 28th.
  • Marco Riolo and gumball monsters will be outside the Woosah Outfitters located at 131 S. Division

The Avenue for the Arts is a neighborhood title for the South Division commercial corridor. We are residential, commercial and nonprofit groups working together in a creative community. We are residents in Heartside, and active participants in shaping change in our neighborhood. In 2005, we choose the Avenue for the Arts as a title to represent our commercial corridor and the projects and events that we create. Because the Avenue is powered by volunteers guest writers create our Rapidian content. Special thanks to Colleen, a psychology graduate from GVSU on official leave from Master in Social Work Program with special interest for local music community relations for her coverage of "The Market on First Fridays."

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