When one thinks about “Grand Rapids” and “art,” it’s impossible not to think about ArtPrize. The event helped put Grand Rapids on the map and into the national art discussion. However, before and after the crowds leave, the art community of Grand Rapids is still here, and has been here for a while. Organizations like the Grand Valley Artists are providing valuable opportunities for area artists of all skill levels to connect, learn, provide critique and improve.
Founded in 1955, Grand Valley Artists is one of the oldest art organizations in Michigan. According to Bob Kraai, it was founded in response to a greater emphasis being placed on modern art in the city. Grand Valley Artists sought to bring more awareness to Realism and traditional art. Members would meet to draw, discuss and share their art with each other.
This volunteer-run organization currently meets in a space north of Leonard on Monroe in the Coopers Landing building. A quick look at the group’s monthly calendar shows a plethora of opportunities for artists of all medias. A photography group meets twice a month and there are recurrent meetings for figure sketching, plein air/still life, still life studio and portrait sketching. Plein air painting, for those curious, is the act of painting outside, in the open air. Be on the lookout for this group out and about town. The organization also offers monthly critique sessions that take place the first Thursday of each month. Artists are encouraged to share their work and thoughts. These are great opportunities to see one’s work through a different lens. In addition to the meetings, the organization produces a monthly newsletter highlighting artists, showings, and art events around town.
Perhaps the Grand Valley Artist’s most well-known event is the annual Reed’s Lake Art Festival. 2017 marks the 52nd year of the popular festival that takes place along Wealthy Street in East Grand Rapids. Each summer hundreds of people visit the festival to experience and purchase art from fine artists from all over the country. One quick note, if you’re interested in participating this year, you can fill out an application – the deadline is March 1, 2017.
The organization isn’t just for artists. Those with an interest are welcome to attend events and most of the programming is available to non-members for a minor fee. With that in mind, the Grand Valley Artists are hosting a Photography Group Artists Reception this Saturday Nov. 5, from 4 – 8 p.m. Examples of “photographic composites, hand colored black and white silver gelatins, tin types, collodions and metallic prints” will be on display as well as refreshments. The reception will be taking place at the Grand Valley Artists’ space at 1345 Monroe Avenue Suite 140, in the Coopers Landing building.
For more information about the Photography Group Artists Reception and Grand Valley Artists in general, visit www.grandvalleyartists.com.