The Rapidian

March 30: Summary of pitches and goings-on




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  • [LITERATURE + ENTERTAINMENT] Teenage Book Fan Club: Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
    6:30 p.m. at Ethel House (441 Ethel SE)
    This is a regular potluck of readers interested in reading together to get through the winter blues.
    Potential questions
    • Some of the other books in the winter line-up included The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Push. These are not obvious teen literature picks. What is the club's criteria for books?
    • Not all the organizers and participants are teenagers. How did they decide that "teenage" was going to be part of the club's theme?
    • How many members are there and how many are able to complete the books within the one-month time frame?
  • [FILM + EDUCATION] Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land
    7 p.m. at Bytwerk Theater at Calvin College (3201 Burton SE)
    The documentary is a comparison of media coverage of the crisis in the Middle East, zeroing in on how distortions in U.S. coverage reinforce false perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    Potential questions
    • Who produced the documentary?
    • What discussion is the Calvin group hoping to spark in GR through this film?
  • [WOMEN + HISTORY] Ladies of the Lights exhibit
    LAST DAYS! TILL MARCH 31 at Grand Rapids Public Library (111 Library NE)
    Lighthouse keeping in the 19th and early 20th centuries was a rugged life of long hours and hard work. At least 50 women in Michigan acted as both assistants and full-fledged keepers during this time. This traveling exhibit from the Michigan Women’s Historical Center, highlights the stories of dedication and determination of the women lighthouse keepers
    Potential questions
    • What were the various paths these women took to becoming lighthouse keepers?
    • How were these women lighthouse keepers regarded in society?
    • What was involved with being a lighthouse keeper and how has that changed over time?

    LAST DAYS! TILL MARCH 31 at Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (41 Sheldon SE)
    $8 general admission
    As part of LaughFest, 19 Holes is a mini-golf course designed by artists. The mini-golf course will take over UICA’s entire building, including walls, windows and ceilings for the month of March.
    Potential questions
    • What were some of the wackiest courses?
    • Are the courses just aesthetically pleasing or were they actually engineered to be possible to play?
    • How did the UICA select artists to construct the courses?


Thursday, March 31

  • [SOCIAL JUSTICE + EDUCATION] 2011 César E. Chavez social justice march/community gathering
    11 a.m. march at 1204 Grandville SW / 12 p.m. community gathering at 1630 Godfrey SW
    The Committee to Honor César E. Chavez invites you to celebrate the life and legacy of César E. Chavez by participating in the 2011 Social Justice March and Community Gathering.
    Potential questions
    • A bus load of participants is coming from Michigan State University for the rally. How big is this rally and are they particularly widespread in West Michigan?
    • What is César Chavez's significance to the community?
    • How many years has this march happened?

  • [ARTS + EDUCATION] Critical reality: Why is arts criticism important?
    5:30 p.m. at Wealthy Theatre (1130 Wealthy SE)
    $10 admission
    While city dwellers proudly conceptualize Grand Rapids as an emerging center of art in the Midwest, local media coverage of artists and events primarily focuses on publicity rather than evaluative criticism. Many members of the arts community are beginning to express a desire for more than just exposure.
    Potential questions
    • The panel includes an ArtPrize representative, art educator, a reporter, an academic and performer. How were the panelists chosen?
    • The Arts Council solicited feedback for an online survey earlier this year about what workshops artists would benefit from. Is this a direct result of that feedback?


Friday, April 1

  • [MUSIC] Coffee Classics Series: Mozart and Sibelius
    9 a.m. at St. Cecilia's Music Society
    $12 admission
    Enjoy conversations with friends and complimentary coffee and pastries, then relax to the sound of the GR Symphony in the Royce Auditorium at 10 a.m.
    Potential questions
    • Friday morning is an odd time for a concert, and 10 a.m. is, at the latest, the start of the workday for some people. What audience is the GR Symphony targeting with this late morning performance?
    • Are these rehearsals on stage cum concerts? Were they planned as serious concerts with all the whistles, bells and expectations (i.e.: penguin tails, gussied up audience) of an evening concert?
  • [ARTS] Meaningless and disgusting (a collaborative show)
    7 p.m. at The Division Avenue Arts Collective (115 S. Division)
    Kyle Church, Alice Gadzinski and Kyle Fierstein are having their opening reception for their first show. In their own words: "...plan to bring a little mixed media meaningless-ness to the Grand Rapids Art Scene. Isn't it high time that art can just be FUN without being bogged down by a CONCEPT or a REASON?!"
    Potential questions
    • Do the three artists feel like art is imbued with too much meaning in Grand Rapids specifically?
    • What, in the artists' minds, does meaningless art look like? Is it art with no composition? No social message? No outstanding materials?

Sunday, April 3

  • [YOUTH + LITERATURE] Teen book spine poetry contest
    April 3-9 at Grand Rapids Public Library (111 Library NE)
    Get creative this Spring Break by stacking up library book spines to create some funny, sad, silly or deep poems. Staff will take a picture of your creations and post them on our website. On Thursday, April 14, a $10 Celebration Cinema gift card prize will be awarded to the winning entry at each of our locations. For teens ages 12-18.
    Potential questions
    • Are there patterns and motifs to the teen poems (i.e.: tragedy or comedy, rhyming, multiple stanzas)?
    • What was the tallest poem? The one with most stanzas? The one with the longest single stanza? Were stanzas split up and laid out visually?


Monday, April 4

    April 4-8 at John Ball Zoo (1300 W. Fulton)
    The John Ball Zoo is planning a full week of activities during spring break. For those with kids on their hands, there will be critter chats, strolling with touchable animals, kids crafts, games and a nighttime safari.
    Potential questions
    • How do the activities for this week vary from typical programming at the zoo?
    • Does the zoo have advice for kids and families prepping to embark on the nighttime safari?
  • [MEDIA + ARTS + TECHNOLOGY] SMart Multimedia Arts Festival
    5:30 p.m. opening reception on April 4, exhibiting till April 8 at Open Concept Gallery (50 Louis NW)
    The fusion of art, technology and reality is evolving rapidly in exciting and innovative ways. Now stop and ask yourself: How do I perceive reality in a virtual world? What is, or is not, authentic about it? And who determines what is virtual autheticity? These questions will be explored during this year's SMart Festival which features a variety of multimedia exhibits from talented local students and artists.
    Potential questions
    • How did the organizers settle on the term "festival" as opposed to "exhibition" when there do not seem to be talks or events scheduled outside of the opening reception?
    • There are a lot of big name sponsors behind the event, from foundations to educational institutions. What is the festival meant to accomplish that so many groups would sign on?
    • With so many sponsors and, presumably, many resources, what sort of unusual or technically complicated exhibits were on display? How long did it take artists to craft together their exhibits, from concept to planning to installment?

Tuesday, April 5

    7 p.m. at The Division Avenue Arts Collective (115 S. Division)
    The first Tuesday of the month is DAAC SWAP. This month's theme is records and VHS.
    Potential questions
    • How does "The Other Committee" decide on themes for each month? What have been some previous themes?
    • VHS and records are analog technology. Are they making a comeback in GR?

Wednesday, April 6

  • [ARTS] Closing reception for exhibit sponsored by Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids
    5 p.m. on April 6 at 532 Ottawa NW
    This is the last week to catch an art exhibit sponsored by the Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids. T'Alyne, a local artist, has works up at 532 Ottawa NW that explores one of Michigan's greatest treasures, fresh water. The closing reception with the artist is at 5 p.m. this Wednesday.
    Potential questions
    • There's much talk about global warming, peak water and changing landscapes. Has local appreciation for the value of Michigan's fresh water sources increased over time?
    • How does the Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids select among the many artists that could be vying for exhibit space?


Thursday, April 7

  • [HISTORY + SUSTAINABILITY] Parks for everyone! The story of GR parks
    7 p.m. at Grand Rapids Public Library (111 Library NE)
    The next exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Library is opening on Thursday with a history of parks in Grand Rapids. On the opening night, the library's historian, the chair of city parks and recreation advisory committee and the executive director of Friends of GR Parks will be sharing the story of GR parks from different perspectives.
    Potential questions
    • What are the various perspectives and how are parks incorporated into the city's master plan?
    • Some of GRPL's exhibits last from one month to a couple of months. Why is this one especially long (runs till October)?
    • What constitutes an exhibit at the library? Is it arts based? Featured books? Historical posters?
  • [DESIGN + SUSTAINABILITY + EDUCATION] Three day symposium on shelter and sustainability
    April 7-9 at Fountain Street Church (24 Fountain NE)
    A symposium on shelter and sustainability will kick off on Thursday starting with a discussion led architect and bestselling author then followed up by other philosophers, architects and urban planners throughout the week.
    Potential questions
    • The site says that there are more events than just the ones going on at FSC. What were some of the other events and where were they? Were they easy to find out about?
    • What conversations in the community and national scene led up to this symposium?
    • Who are the intended participants for the symposium?

Thursday, April 14

  • [ARTS] Bling! Flash! Art!
    5-7 p.m. at Skywalk Gallery, DeVos Place
    This collaborative GVSU Senior Thesis Showcase is part of Grand Valley State University’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. The show features 15 photographers and 14 graphic designers.
    [More: Victoria Veenstra: 616.331.3957, Chitra Gopalakrishnan: 616.331.8164, Performing Arts Center Gallery: 616.331.2564]
    Potential questions
    • How were the collaborations set up? Were photographers and graphic designers paired up or grouped, and did the artists pick who they were going to collaborate with?
    • The showcase is taking place at DeVos Place. Is this GVSU's crowning senior showcase or are there many other senior exhibits and this one happened to land a high profile venue?


Saturday, April 16

  • [ARTS + DISCUSSION] Grand Rapids Slow Art Day
    1 p.m. at Grand Rapids Art Museum (101 Monroe Center)
    Slow Art Day was started to invite novices - and experts - to experience the art of looking at art slowly. It's a very simple process. Volunteer hosts (not necessarily experts) invite people to come to a local museum and view a small number of works of art for 5-10 minutes each. Then everyone meets for lunch at a nearby cafe to talk about their experience. And all this happens the same day around the world.
    Potential questions
    • Last year, the event was hosted by ArtPrize. This year, it's hosted independently. What was the turnout like last year and what encouraged the organizer to repeat the event this year? 
    • In the same vein, why isn't it sponsored again by ArtPrize?



  • [LITERATURE] Pre-reading classes for babies and toddlers
    11-11:30 a.m. on various weekdays at Grand Rapids Public Library (111 Library NE)
    Parents and caregivers are invited to introduce their babies, birth through 18 months, to music, movement, and language in 30-minute classes designed just for their specific developmental stages. Classes geared toward toddlers 18 months to 3 years of age feature hands-on, literacy-rich activities such as stories, songs with fingerplays and other action, and sign language.
    Potential questions
    • Is this a new program at the library?
    • Did the library use any sort of recommended learning models to organize their 30-minute classes?
    • Are the classes part of a series or one-time sessions?

  • [MEETUP] Toastmasters roundtable
    7:30 a.m. on every Thursday at the downtown GVSU campus
    Toastmasters hosts weekly roundtables with the goal of bolstering members' public speaking skills.
    Potential questions
    • When did the local Toastmasters group first begin?
    • Are there other local groups like Toastmasters?
    • What are some of the basic tips they impart for pulic speaking?

  • [TECHNOLOGY] Computer literacy classes at Grand Rapids Public Library
    Grand Rapids Public Library (111 Library NE)
    The library offers free adult education classes that range in level from basic computing to effective use of social media. Click on one of the links above for more information about the specific class.
    Potential questions
    • What does computer literacy encompass?
    • How did the library determine what to fit into each computer literacy course?
    • What are some common things that the "computer literate" take for granted?

  • [FILM] Meanwhile Film Series
    8 p.m. every Tuesday at Wealthy Theatre (1130 Wealthy SE)
    The Meanwhile Bar and Wealthy Theatre team up to present the Meanwhile film series, the only brew-in-view in the greater Grand Rapids area. The cult classics series is curated by Jeff Vandenberg of The Meanwhile.
    Potential questions
    • How did the partnership between The Meanwhile and Wealthy Theatre come about?
    • In the couple of years that Jeff Vandenberg has been curating the series, does he ever worry that he'll run out of cult classics?
    • Does Jeff choose any old cult classic or does he have a set of standards?
  • [ARTS + EDUCATION] Friday nights at GRAM
    5 p.m. every Friday at GRAM (101 Monroe Center)
    $5 admission
    On Friday nights, Grand Rapids Art Museum invites the public to tour their galleries (open late), enjoy live piano music and a cash bar. alleries open late, live piano music, and a cash bar. The evening includes participation in their Friday Night Conversations series.
    Potential questions
    • What are the range of activities for Friday Nights?
    • Why are certain exhibitions (like Princess Diana) excluded from Friday Nights access?
    • What are the range of topics for Conversations?
  • [MUSIC] Weekly Irish music sessions at McFadden's
    7 p.m. on Sundays at McFadden's (58 Ionia SW)
    Whether you are a musician or an Irish music fan, this session is as close to visiting an Irish Pub Session in Ireland, as you can get without flying to the Emerald Isle! Food, beer and drink specials, and toe-tapping traditional Irish Music. Traditional Irish musicians (any instruments - including voice,) are invited to join in![More]
    Potential questions
    • How popular are the weekly Irish music sessions?
    • This weekly event is is not advertised on McFadden's site, so who are the organizers and sponsors of the music sessions?
    • What are some traditional Irish instruments? What are the defining characteristics of Irish music?
  • [DANCE] English ritual dance group holds practice every Sunday
    6:30 p.m. every Sunday at St. Mark's Episcopal Church (134 N. Division)
    Bells of River City members have fun while educating the general public about the tradition of English ritual dance as performed in Grand Rapids, modeled upon but not limited to Cotswold Morris, Border Morris, Mumming, and English Sword Dance.
    Potential questions
    • Opportunity for a photo essay: What do the dances mentioned above look like?
    • How old are these ritual dances?
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