First Friday Art Walks are a staple in the Grand Rapids creative arts community. With COVID-19 and the cold winter weather, the event has been shifted from in-person to virtual. Katie Marshall, board member of Grand Rapids Arts and executive director of the MacRostie Art Center shared her thoughts on how these events have shifted through the past months.
“Grand Rapids Arts, which is the organization that coordinates First Fridays, has tried a number of different ways to organize the First Friday Art Walk since the pandemic began,” said Marshall.
In summer 2020, First Friday Art Walks included some outdoor activities, as well as virtual options. Since the weather has turned colder, most activities are now offered in virtual and some in-person formats. A list of current art events and ways for people to engage with local arts organizations is sent out on the first Friday of every month and posted on GrandRapidsArts.org.
For the month of February, a variety of events were highlighted. Two new exhibits are the Macrostie Art Center (MAC) were available to see at the MAC galleries or through exhibit videos on the MAC’s website.
See Friday, page 8
from page 1
“In Thin Air: There Is a Lot More Nothing Here Than Meets the Eye,” a series of mixed media woven sculptures by Dave Browne, and “Beyond Whitness,” a photography exhibition by Monika Lawrence were featured.
Many performances took place at the Reif Performing Arts Center earlier this month, as well. These included “Babes in Toyland,” an original adaptation by Katie Smith and a performance by Brazilian entertainment duo the B2wins. Lastly, local jazz artist Sam Miltich presented a live online concert via Facebook Live.
“Right now, First Friday is less of a single event in its current configuration, but it gives people the opportunity to experience some art by local artists and support our local arts organizations,” Marshall stated.
Marshall added that they are looking forward to when people can come together again downtown Grand Rapids to take part in the monthly art walks.
“In the meantime, we want to keep our artists and arts community visible during this time,” Marshall commented. “Creative expression can be so helpful to people during challenging times, and even though many of the traditional ways we’ve connected with the arts look different, our local artists are still out there creating, and our arts organizations are working so hard to provide opportunities for people to experience the arts in their everyday lives.”