The performing arts stages around Grand Rapids are likely to look a little empty this fall. Broadway Grand Rapids and St. Cecilia Music Center are among the organizations putting their fall performances on hold. Several other organizations have spent the summer coming up with creative ways to deliver performances to audiences — virtual performances as well as limited audience performances are both options they may utilize.
While it’s certainly disappointing, these organizations are finding creative ways to engage with their patrons and many of them expect some of the innovative solutions they’ve come up with are here to stay, even if COVID-19 eventually fades into the background. The best way to stay abreast of in-person and virtual performance schedules this fall is to keep an eye on these organizations’ websites and social media.
The pandemic also caused ArtPrize to cancel its event this year. After a year off, we were all looking forward to the return of this public art event downtown. Instead, I suggest you get out and enjoy the many murals and permanent public artworks that are scattered throughout our great city. And, learn about three visual artists who have been busy creating new works this year. We spoke with Jasmin Bruce, Chelsea Michal Garter and Nick Nortier.
You also can go online to view “My Dearest Friends,” a collaboration between DisArt and artist Oaklee Thiele that looks at the impacts of COVID-19 on people with disabilities. Thiele’s illustrations are paired with audio recordings and interviews to “capture, archive and share stories submitted by the disabled community living through the COVID-19 pandemic.” This is an eye-opening look at a community of people often deemed “disposable” during the pandemic.
If you do decide to venture out by foot this month, you might also spot fading advertisements of bygone times in Grand Rapids — several of which have been unearthed when adjacent buildings were torn down. One of those historic symbols of GR’s past life is the former Joppe’s ice cream shop sign that still hangs from its former home along Plainfield Avenue. While little of the sign remains intact today, you can see what the sign used to look like later next month.
Managing Editor, Grand Rapids Magazine