ArtPrize ~ Intersections

ArtPrize 2014 has arrived, and brought with it summer-like weather! I was supposed to be working on my blog re-design yesterday. Instead the warmer temperatures and a blazing ball of sunshine beckoned me outside. Lucky for me, my entire city is currently an art exhibit. It was truly an incredible day.

It’s difficult not to share every single photo I took yesterday. If you’re not familiar with ArtPrize, you can read about it here. The more you learn about it, the more you’re going to want to plan an early autumn trip to Grand Rapids. This isn’t just another local art contest. Artists from all over the world converge on the city of Grand Rapids for 3 weeks. The public gets a say in the voting. There are sculptures in the park, statues on the streets, murals on buildings, installations in the river, musical entries, and even a burlesque show titled ArtPrize, The Musical. It’s a spectacle.

I shared the featured photo above on Twitter last night. That particular exhibit has received quite a lot of buzz, with good reason. I had to see it twice yesterday. I hope to see it again before it’s gone. I don’t know how, but I got a few seconds alone with “Intersections” by Anila Quayyum Agha last night. My husband snapped a photo of me gazing upon it in awe. The cube that seems suspended in midair is carved from wood. The light on the inside casts intricate shadows all over the installation space. This piece has a room all to itself inside the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

I saw hundreds of pieces of art yesterday. There are about 1,000 more to see. I won’t be bored anytime over the next couple of weeks. Oh, and while I was out in search of entries, I stumbled upon a park I haven’t visited in nearly 20 years. Since it’s less than a mile from my house, I really can’t say why I haven’t been there. I forgot about it I guess. The view of the city from that park is stunning. In a couple of weeks, all of the trees in this picture will be splattered in reds, oranges and yellows. I will be back for that for sure.



Here is the featured photo again. If you want to see all of the intricacy in larger detail, just click on it to open it up:



Good luck to all of my magically creative friends who have entries this year! I can’t wait to stop by and admire your talent!

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Record Store Day ~ The Rev Charles Way

Founded by Eric Levin, Michael Kurtz, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave and Brian Poehner in 2007, Record Store Day (RSD) was established as a way to honor the culture of the independently owned record store. It is now celebrated internationally on the third Saturday of April each year. In 2014, that day was April 19th, and what a day it was.

April weather in Michigan is unpredictable at best. Record Store Day 2013 brought us snow. RSD 2014, however, was a gloriously sunny 65oF. Whatever the temperature, RSD is the first day of my favorite season, the festival season. From now through the month of October, the downtown Grand Rapids area is alive with music, art, dance and film. There is inspiration around every corner. I live for this time of year. It got kicked off in fabulous style on Saturday, thanks to my friend, Reverend Charles Preston Smith.

Charles, frontman for the popular local band, PotatoeBabies, started the tradition of live Record Store Day music at Dodds Record Shop. The first year he walked into the store unannounced and asked the owner where he could plug-in his amp. Here is a photo of the PotatoeBabies’ inaugural RSD performance at Dodds:


In 2013, Charles bought that record shop. In addition to headlining PotatoeBabies, on top of being on the forefront of the GR local music scene, and in spite of a regular day job, he welcomed a massive undertaking in restoring Dodds to its former glory. After 30 years in the same location, Dodds’ inventory had become overwhelming. It has taken months to reopen aisles and clear space for a stage. Thanks to Charles’ dedication, no longer is Dodds a cluttered collection of forgotten treasures. It is a museum of music history, all genres in all formats for all ages. In addition to the preservation of music history, Dodds will be known for parties and even weddings. One lucky couple was married there, by Charles himself, just a few weeks ago. Cool.

With him at the helm, Record Store Day 2014 was the biggest and best yet. Not only did bands perform on the street outside, but there was also a lineup of bands inside. I don’t know if you know this, but being insulated by tens of thousands of records does amazing things for a building’s acoustics. I’ve seen the band Bitters play at least a dozen times. They never sounded better than they did this past Saturday. I can’t get over how much fun my husband and I had with our son that day.


Of course, the weather was irresistible so if indoors wasn’t your thing, the music was flowing out on the sidewalk as well.


If this has got you feeling a little nostalgic and craving some vinyl, go see my friend Charles at Dodds Record Shop. Charles has invested countless hours, and his own blood, sweat, and tears into refashioning the downtown Grand Rapids icon into something special and unique. Hear the story of Dodds’ revival straight from his mouth and make an appearance on the 24/7 VinylCam while you’re at it. Learn more about his efforts here:

A new era for Dodds Records:

Heartside record shop to showcase memories:


Dodds Record Shop, Record Store Day 2014 lineup:


And now I look forward to Festival of the Arts 2014, a weekend long celebration in the streets of downtown Grand Rapids where we appreciate food, friends, art, dance, music, and of course, Rev Charles Preston Smith and the PotatoeBabies. Look for an article on that event coming this June.

Grand Rapids

Steven Fox Writing’s Alphabet Challenge, Day 7, “G” ~ A poem about home: Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Or, Beer City USA,
The place that I love,
Live, work and play.

It’s a city of culture.
It boasts fine cuisine,
Breathtaking landscapes,
And sunsets pristine.

Beaches and fishing,
Symphony, ballet,
Fine artisan markets,
Film fests and Broadway.

Home of Art Prize,
And Blues on the Mall
Swing dance, ice skating
Hockey and baseball.

A remarkable town
Not one to be missed
A visit belongs atop
Of your bucket list.


Photo from Art Prize 2012, courtesy of