Guide to the Grand Rapids Art Scene

Grand Rapids has longstanding been a city comprised of creators and designers, beginning with the detailed craftsmanship of our furniture products in the 19th century. Over the past few years however, Grand Rapids has exploded onto the international Art Scene making a name for itself as an epicenter of art and culture, most notably with the introduction of ArtPrize in 2009. ArtPrize, the internationally acclaimed art competition, attracts over 400,000 guests from around the globe each fall. With ArtPrize right around the corner, we want to highlight a few of the other exciting places to check out all of the unique and amazing art that Grand Rapids has to offer, not only during ArtPrize, but throughout the entire year.

South Division becomes the ideal location for checking out the latest and greatest local art and hand-crafted goods on the first Friday of every month. First Friday Gallery Hops, hosted by Avenue of the Arts, combines local art, music, food, and drinks during this event that cultivates strength, unity, and economic growth within the community. Residents of Grand Rapids and the surrounding suburbs come together to stroll the South Division corridor, connecting with local artists in the community, all while enjoying drink specials, gallery exhibitions, performances by local musicians, as well as artwork by various university students. Have Company, Sanctuary Gallery and Studio, and the Collective Artspace are just a few of the sites that participate in First Friday Gallery Hops. The sites can vary from month to month, so be sure to check out their website for the latest list and map of all the participating locations! Visit them online at: avenueforthearts.com.

The Urban Institute of Contemporary Art (UICA), located on the corner of Fulton and Division, features various gallery exhibitions throughout the year from local, regional, and international artists. What makes the UICA a must see destination for art in Grand Rapids is that it offers much more than just gallery exhibitions. The UICA also hosts many receptions, gallery talks, live performances and concerts, as well as educational and informative classes and activities for adults and children. If you are a lover of independent, foreign, or documentary films, be sure to check out the UICA’s 195-seat movie theatre. To see what films are now playing, or what exhibits are currently on display, visit their website at: www.uica.org.

If you have not yet been to the world’s first LEED certified museum, go now! The Grand Rapids Art Museum is truly a work of art in itself. The GRAM is home to world class art exhibits, featuring work from all around the globe. Aside from their astounding exhibitions, they are also home to GRAMStudio, where visitors can drop in and participate in programs, courses, and workshops that allow them to create their own unique pieces of work. The museum also offers camps and programs for kids and young adults, yoga classes, as well as GRAM on the Green, a summer concert series that features live music and dancing! For a list of performances, programs, or their current exhibitions, please visit: www.artmuseumgr.org.

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park is not only a local site for art, it has become a renowned, international destination for art enthusiasts! It is one of the nation’s most significant sculpture and botanic experiences, and Frederik Meijer Gardens is home to Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory. Here, you will also find a number of indoor and outdoor themed gardens, nature trails, a boardwalk, and a 1930’s-era farm. To see what is currently on display, as well as a list of all of their educational and inspiring events, visit: www.meijergardens.org.

Currently carrying over 50 artists, Lafontsee Gallery in Grand Rapids’ East Hills neighborhood, is home to one of the most astounding collections of art in the Midwest. Over the past 25 years, it has made an astounding reputation for itself, winning several awards and decorations for its extraordinary artwork and the progressive culture that it exhibits.

Centered in Grand Rapid’s ultra-eclectic and unique neighborhood of Eastown, Gallery 154, the oldest gallery in Grand Rapids, embodies the culture and energy of its surroundings. Here, you will find work from over 70 different artists from all over the country, offering a variety of art forms on display and for sale, from oil paintings to jewelry. Gallery 154 is an art destination and experience that will not disappoint. Find them online at: www.gallery154.com.

The Fed Galleries at Kendall College of Art & Design, located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, prides itself on being a center of artistic innovation and creative collaboration in the community. Here you can find current works and exhibitions by local, regional, national, and international artists and designers. To learn more about the Fed Galleries, check them out online at: www.kcad.edu/galleries/fed-galleries.

(106) Gallery and Studio, located at 106 South Division Avenue, is operated by the Calvin College Department of Art and Art History. The space houses faculty studios as well as a an art gallery, and the exhibitions embrace faculty, student and community artwork. 106 Gallery is also a part of the Avenue for the Arts project in downtown Grand Rapids. For a list of current and upcoming exhibitions, visit: www.calvin.edu/centerartgallery/studio.

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