Tag Archives: Frederik Meijer Gardens

Meijer Gardens concerts: Great names in July but summer is waning

Elvis Costello & the Imposters will be one of a dynamite run of four great shows in five days, July 16-20. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris



July is the peak of summer and often the high-point of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park summer concert series — and there are three takeaways from those facts: a ton of top-notch talent is coming to town; they are mostly sold out but available for a price; and you better make some party plans before fall rolls in.


There will be 10 shows in 19 days this month starting with Sheryl Crow on Wednesday, July 12, and ending with Lifehouse and Switchfoot on Monday, July 31. In between is dynamite run of four great shows in five days, July 16-20 — Huey Lewis & the News, Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Barenaked Ladies, and Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers with the Wood Brothers.


The Shins (a great alt-pop project of James Mercer) may well be the show of the season. (Supplied)

All four shows are sold out, as are all but one of the July shows, including the highly anticipated July 27 visit by The Shins (a great alt-pop project of James Mercer) — at least it is my most anticipated show. But still not sold out, so at regular Meijer Gardens price, is what should be a great show of relatively new-to-the-scene talents of Andrew Bird with Esperanza Spaulding on July 24.


And, of course, Lyle Lovett will be in town. (Supplied)

And speaking of not being sold out … of the remaining 11 shows in August, seven of them still have tickets available, including Lyle Lovett’s annual visit, Garrison Keillor’s latest Prairie Home tour, the Punch Brothers, Tegan and Sara, John Butler Trio, and the improv/jam-band sounds of moe. with Railroad Earth.


Don’t know much about Railroad Earth but like a lot what mandolin/bouzouki player John Skehan said, in supplied material, about the band’s live performances.


“Our M.O. has always been that we can improvise all day long, but we only do it in service to the song,” Skehan said. “There are a lot of songs that, when we play them live, we adhere to the arrangement from the record. And other songs, in the nature and the spirit of the song, everyone knows we can kind of take flight on them.”


After a busy July and August, the Meijer Gardens Summer Concert season will come to an end on Sept. 1 with the season-closing concert by English reggae and pop band UB40 — also not sold out.


Also this month, Meijer Gardens’ amphitheater will host its Tuesday Evening Concert Series, with general admission to the Gardens getting people in for  some great local and regional musical acts. The diverse two-month program features live bands with music ranging from jazz to indie rock to folk, all starting at 7 p.m. Two of the more interesting musical explorations will be the mid August visits of Kalamazoo’s Michigander on Aug. 8 and Slim Gypsy Baggage on Aug. 15.


For complete information on the concert series tickets and admission prices, visit meijergardens.org .


Meijer Gardens summer concerts: No tickets? No problem … yet

A probably sold-out crowd at a previous Meijer Gardens Summer Concert series concert. (Supplied Meijer Gardens/Tony Norkus)

By K.D. Norris



St. Paul & The Broken Bones. (Supplied Meijer Gardens/David McClister)

The first concerts of the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park summer concert series hit the stage this week, and most years aftermarket tickets are all that is available for the majority of the shows — and late comers pay the price: this week’s St. Paul and the Broken Bones show, original ticket price of $35, is sold out but available on StubHub for $102.35.


But this season, at last count, 16 of the 28 remaining concerts were not sold out. But, admittedly, many have only a few tickets remaining, with some of them having been returned for sale by the band.


Some of this month’s concerts with tickets available from Meijer Gardens include this week’s Diana Krall show, on Wednesday, June 7, as well as Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot! on June 18, Boz Scaggs on June 21, Daughtry on June 25 and Trombone Shorty on June 29.


Elvis Costello (Supplied Meijer Gardens)

For my money, the most surprising shows with original price tickets still available include Elvis Costello & The Attractions on July 17 — come on, Elvis will be in the building! — as well as the unique pairing and unique music of Andrew Bird and Esperanza Spaulding on July 24, and the always-great summer night with Lyle Lovett (with his large band) on Aug. 2.


Alas, possibly the show of the Meijer Gardens season, the July 27 visit by The Shins (aka James Mercer) and their inventive, modern alt-pop sounds, is sold out, with originally-priced $57 tickets now priced on StubHub at $111. At that price, you may as well head over to Chicago for the Sunday, Aug. 6, Lollapalooza day of concerts and catch The Shins with a ton of other great bands — StubHub tickets are currently $126.


The Meijer Gardens Summer Concert season will come to an end on Sept. 1 with the season-closing concert by English reggae and pop band UB40.


Michigander (Supplied Meijer Gardens/Adam Podboy)

Starting in July, Meijer Gardens’ amphitheater will also host its Tuesday Evening Concert Series, with general admission to the Gardens getting people in for  some great local and regional musical acts. Starting Tuesday, July 4, with Green On Blue and The Red Sea Pedestrians, the diverse two-month program features live bands with music ranging from jazz to indie rock to folk, all starting at 7 p.m. Two of the more interesting musical explorations will be the mid August visits of Kalamazoo’s Michigander on Aug. 8 and Slim Gypsy Baggage on Aug. 15.


For complete information on the concert series tickets and admission prices, visit meijergardens.org .


Eclectic mix: Meijer Gardens free Tuesday concert line-up ranges from jazz to indie rock

Slim Gypsy Baggage will be one of the “must hear” regional bands at the Meijer Gardens free Tuesday concert series this summer. (Supplied Meijer Gardens/John Rothwell)

By K.D. Noris



While many big-name musical acts come through town as part of the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Summer Concert Series, one of the true pleasures of a West Michigan summer is an evening at the Garden’s amphitheater exploring local and regional acts as part of the Tuesday Evening Music Club concert series.


Red Sea Pedestrians (Supplied Meijer Gardens/Brian Powers)

Starting Tuesday, July 4, with one band known for jazzy explorations and another for musical journeys just about everywhere else — Green On Blue and The Red Sea Pedestrians — the diverse two-month program features live bands with music ranging from jazz to indie rock to folk, all in the 1,900-(mostly grass)seat venue and all starting at 7 p.m.


Oh, and did I mention the concerts are free with Gardens’ admission?


Two of the more interesting musical explorations will be the mid August visits of Kalamazoo’s Michigander on Aug. 8 and Slim Gypsy Baggage on Aug. 15.


Michigander (Supplied Meijer Gardens/Adam Podboy)

Playing that night with singer-songwriter Benjaman James, Michigander is described as “emotive indie-rock, delivered through powerful vocals and cerebral lyrics.” The hook for me is the description of the band from its Facebook page: “Michigander has been the toil and passion of Jason Singer since 2013. It’s being built in basements and churches and vans without mufflers. It’s living on stages, floors, and in studios — sounding big and packing light.”


The next week, playing that night with the “downhome, psychedelic jam band” Bigfoot Buffalo, Slim Gypsy Baggage is led by lead singer Morgan Ingle who, accord to the bank’s website, “grew up in a musical family learning guitar from her father and honed her skills as a gifted singer/songwriter.  … Morgan signatures the Slim Gypsy Baggage vibe with her unique voice and thoughtful lyrics, as she covers the eclectic rock, funk and soulful sounds of the band.”


The hook, though, is checking out lead guitarist Cam Mammina. As the website states: “Cam shreds! … Mixing crunchy indie triphop licks, blues, funk, and surf rock sustains.  Needless to say, Cam brings a energized life and a driving shreddiness to SGBs sound.”


Two possible new words in the same sentence: “triphop” and “shreddiness”.  Oh ya.


The rest of the concert series includes:


Miss Atomic and The Zannies, on July 11. Miss Atomic is described as “a melodic blend of modern soul and pop-rock, fresh to the local scene,” while The Zannies is “an antic mishmash of alt-rock, punk, and blues.”


Rollie Tussing & The Midwest Territory Band and The Muteflutes, on July 18. The first is “an old-timey, unique balance of country, early swing, and blues, backed by vaudevillian percussion,” while second is “lilting, thought-provoking, lyric-driven indie folk rock.”


The Moxie Strings and The Dave Sharp World’s Trio, on July 25. Well known to local audiences,


Moxie Strings (Supplied)

The Moxie Strings is “a foot-stomping, rock-influenced, progressive spin on traditional Celtic and Americana classics and originals. While Dave Sharp World’s Trio is “a collaboration between renowned bassist Dave Sharp, Igor Houwat on the ‘oud’ (a short-neck lute-type, pear-shaped stringer instrument), and percussionist Carolyn Koebel, featuring Arabic-based, impromptu adventures into jazz and folk.”


The Moonrays and 6-Pak, on Aug. 1. Two bands also well known locally, The Moonrays offer “vintage, instrumental surf-rock,” while 6-Pak is “an all-girl band, originally formed in 1967, performing the grooviest hits from that era.”


Amy Andrews (Supplied)

Amy Andrews and Taylor Taylor, on Aug. 22. Amy is “a  modern day torch singer and award-winning vocalist, once referred to as a female Elvis” — not my words. Taylor offers “a fresh, young blend of pop and R&B, performing acoustic guitar-driven originals.”


Finishing up the series, as usual, is local music icon Ralston Bowles, as Ralston & Friends will his the stage Aug. 29. Describing Ralston’s music, let alone that of his always changing cast of “friends” is impossible. Start at “folk” and just enjoy the ride from there.


For more information visit meijergardens.org .


GVSU study: Local economic impact of Meijer Gardens is $75 million 

The crowds that come to Meijer Gardens, shown here for a summer concert, pump money into the local economy, according to a GVSU Study. (Supplied Meijer Gardens/Tony Norkus)

By Dottie Barnes

Grand Valley State University


The overall economic impact of Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park on Kent County is $75.2 million, which supports 804 jobs, according to a study by Grand Valley State University researchers.


The entrance to Meijer Gardens. (Supplied)

Economics professors Paul Isely and Christian Glupker, who conducted the study, reported that the annual economic impact of Meijer Gardens came from three components: the impact of visitor spending outside of the venue, the operations of the venue (including what visitors spend inside the venue) and construction spending.


Isely said one way Meijer Gardens adds to the regional economy is by bringing visitors to Kent County.


“As these individuals come to the county to visit, they spend money on food, lodging, entertainment, transportation and other items,” Isely said. “The combined dollar value of this spending translates into greater earnings for area employers and employees, as well as greater job creation.”


Glupker said direct spending by all visitors outside of Meijer Gardens is $22.7 million, with more than 86 percent of this coming from people outside of Kent County.


“The result is a lot of new dollars into Kent County,” Glupker said. “This happens because the venue draws 445,000 visitors from outside Kent County and each of these individuals spends more as a result of a visit to Meijer Gardens than a comparable local visitor.”


David Hooker, president and CEO of Meijer Gardens, commented on the study by saying: “Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has been embraced and supported by our wonderful community. It is with the community’s support that we can further our unique mission of horticulture and sculpture and bring joy to so many people. The Grand Valley study clearly shows the importance and support of the great cultural community that we have.”


Details of the study shows The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park supports or contributes:

• 804 jobs in Kent County annually

• A $75.2 million economic output annually

• Visitors from outside the county who directly spend $19.6 million at businesses around Kent County annually

• Construction that created 39 jobs during the last year

• 86 percent of visitor spending is the result of spending by individuals who do not live in Kent County

• Nonresidents spent an average $129 per group outside the venue during their visit to Meijer Gardens while in Kent County.


Tull to Shins: Meijer Gardens summer concert series run gamut of genres, prices

Jethro Tull by Ian Anderson, shown, will be one of Meijer Gardens summer concert series. (Supplied/Nick Harrison)

By K.D. Norris



The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park summer concert series, announced this morning, certainly offers something for every musical taste — from the classic rock favorite Jethro Tull (by Ian Anderson) to the college crowd favorite The Shins. It also offers ticket prices ranging from a Huey Lewis high of $95 to a surprising St. Paul low of $35.


Starting June 4 with the teaming of Billy Ocean and Starship in a 1970s and ’80 concert concept called “Replay America”, the Fifth Third Bank Summer Concerts at Meijer Gardens will bring 30 shows to the park’s terraced lawn, 1,900-seat amphitheater.


The Meijer Gardens members pre-sale period will be April 29 through May 12 this season, with general public sale starting May 13. The annual caffeine-driven members rush, or should we say wait in line, starts at 7 a.m. on April 29 at the park.


Huey Lewis and the News will be the most expensive concert ticket the summer. (Supplied)

The most expensive shows this season will be familiar favorites Huey Lewis & The News on Sunday, July 16, at $95 for the public (member pre-sale prices are $5 cheaper); followed by the return of Sheryl Crow there days earlier, on July 12, at $94; and Elvis Costello & The Imposters a day after Huey Lewis, on Monday, July 17, at $90.


The least expensive shows will be emerging “gospel-tinged, retro-soul garage band” sound of St. Paul & The Broken Bones on June 9, at $35, followed by the combination of under-the-radar East Coast jam ban “moe.” and the newgrass sounds of Railroad Earth, on Aug. 21, at $43.


Falling into the “always a great show/always worth the money” category is the annual (usually) perfect summer night with Lyle Lovett and his Large Band, on Aug. 2, coming in at $68 to the  public.


For the avant-garde (modern alt-jazz?) music crowd, the teaming of Andrew Bird with special guest Esperanza Spalding, on July 24, will be worth the $45 and worth the time to get out of one’s music comfort zone.


James Mercer’s project The Shins may well be the concert with the most buzz. (Supplied)

But the must see concert for the cool crowd, and anybody who appreciates inventive, modern alt-pop music, is the The Shins, July 27, at the very reasonable small venue price of $57. The Shins, fronted by James Mercer, will be on the summer festival circuit this year including Lollapalooza 2017 in Chicago.


Some of the other highlights of the concert series will be the sweet sounds of Four Voices: Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Indigo Girls, on June 12; e Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot!, Boz Scaggs, Barenaked Ladies and Bruce Hornsby — the killer Bs — each having a night on the stage; and Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home tour return with “Love and Comedy”.


The summer unofficially comes to an end on Sept. 1 with the season-closing concert by English reggae and pop band UB40.


For complete information on the concert series, and the various ticket purchase/price options, visit meijergardens.org


Meijer Gardens expansion includes expanded learning center, local community education opportunities

Architectural drawings for Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s new Covenant Learning Center, which will be topped by the new Padnos Families Rooftop Sculpture Garden.

By K.D. Norris



The multi-phased building expansion plans of the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park announced last week will include an expansion the institution’s learning center, already a favorite of several Wyoming and Kentwood community organizations including Kentwood Public Schools A.R.C.H. after school program.


The expansion plans include a new 60,000 square foot welcome center, a new transportation center, expansion and upgrades to the concert amphitheater, a new sculpture garden entry plaza and a “reimagined” scenic indoor corridor, and expanded parking and urban garden areas. Overall, project construction is scheduled to begin this fall and continue for approximately four years.


After the new welcome center, however, and most important expansion may be the 20,000 square foot Covenant Learning Center, which will be topped by the new Padnos Families Rooftop Sculpture Garden.


Architectural drawings for Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s new Covenant Learning Center, which will be topped by the new Padnos Families Rooftop Sculpture Garden.

“Today we have two approximately 1,100 square foot classrooms devoted to education,” Meijer Gardens President and CEO David Hooker said when asked by WKTV about the Covenant Learning Center. “Since 1999, our educational programming has grown 305 percent. While our education programming has grown … our space dedicated to education has remained the same. The new Covenant Learning Center will have four approximately 1,200 square foot classrooms, two 1,600 square foot classrooms and one 2,200 square foot Interactive Education Area. The opportunity for additional educational programming is nearly unlimited.”


Wyoming and Kentwood programs at the gardens


Kentwood’s A.R.C.H. after school program is just one of the many programs currently using the Garden’s educational programing.


“The after-school programs from both Kentwood (A.R.C.H.) and Wyoming (T.E.A.M. 21), in particular, have made frequent visits to Meijer Gardens in the past,” said Jessica Hart, Meijer Gardens indoor education manager. “We’re delighted that these groups have been able to enjoy our seasonal exhibitions, Sculpture Park, and Children’s Garden. I expect that the new Covenant Learning Center will allow us additional opportunities to offer educational programs school groups and after-school groups alike in the future.”


A.R.C.H. is a collaboration between Kentwood Public Schools and the Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department. Program activities focus on academics, health, wellness, and recreation/leisure education.  These activities will be offered to children, family, and community members throughout the year.


But the Kentwood program is just one of many groups availing themselves of local cultural educational opportunities. And that is just the way Meijer Garden’s wants it.


Following recent educational additions to other Grand Rapids area institutions, including The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Meijer Garden’s Covenant Learning Center “will engage learners in new ways and reinforce our commitment as the go-to place for cultural education,” according to supplied information.


Part of Meijer Garden’s mission


“Since our beginning, education has been a hallmark of the Meijer Gardens mission — reaching more than 89,000 guests last year alone. In fact, the action word in our mission statement is ‘promote.’ Education is the primary method by which we put life into the word ‘promote.’ The dramatic growth of participation in our educational programming not only underscores the quality and diversity of our classes, camps and events, but also demonstrates a need for more classroom space.”


A key aspect of the new classrooms will be that they will provide outdoor learning areas, with five of the six having direct access from within the classroom. The outdoor learning area will be located east of the building and will include seating areas for students, teaching areas for instructors, and partial shade/cover from the elements.


The expansion plans are the result of a nearly complete $115 million capital campaign titled “Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love”. The campaign currently has raised about $102 million of its goal, according to supplied information.


“If we are successful in our ‘Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love’ fundraising efforts, we will begin construction in September of this year,” Hooker said. “We do not have a precise date at this time for the completion of the Covenant Learning Center or the Padnos Families Rooftop Sculpture Garden.”


The New York firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects Partners has been chosen “to re-envision and expand” the Meijer Gardens facilities, according to supplied information. The firm is known for their design of the iconic Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and, most recently, chosen to design the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.


For more information about Meijer Gardens visit meijergardens.org. For more information about the “Welcoming the World: Honoring a Legacy of Love” fundraising efforts visit meijergardens.org/legacyoflove .


The Weekend Edition: Things to do Nov. 25 – 27

By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma




’Twas the Night Before Christmas

The Creative Arts Repertoire Ensemble continues its holiday tradition with the annual presentation of the “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” ballet Thanksgiving weekend.

The original ballet, based on Clement C. Moore’s familiar poem and set to traditional holiday music, features mischievous mice, dancing stockings, magical toys and Santa with his prancing reindeer, all combining to create a wonderful hour of family entertainment.


Because the show is about an hour long, it is great for any age and a nice way to introduce younger children to the arts. Show times are 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25; 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27, at East Grand Rapids Performing Arts Center, 2211 Lake Drive SE.

Tickets are $15/adults and $10/students. This show does sell out quickly. For tickets, go to careballet.org.


A nativity scene from Italy is part of the Meijer Gardens holiday display. (supplied)
A nativity scene from Italy is part of the Meijer Gardens holiday display. (supplied)

Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World


So you ate a lot of turkey over Thanksgiving and now are looking for a place to walk it off that does not necessarily involve shopping. Head over to the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, 1000 E. Beltline NE, which has opened its annual Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World.


The exhibit features more than 40 international trees and displays as well as the railway garden that meanders through four indoor garden spaces and features recreated Grand Rapids landmarks. There will be narratives and special displays from Iceland, Ghana, Germany and the countries and other counties and cultures.


The exhibit runs through Jan. 8. For more information, visit meijergardens.org.



Have Another

The popular a cappella group Straight No Chaser returns to DeVos hall Friday, Nov. 25, for its “I’ll Have Another…World Tour.”


The North American leg — which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the cappella group’s foundation in 1996 and the first show at Indiana University — will be at 8 p.m. at DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW.


The group became pYouTube sensation with is holiday performances. They have been touring since 2008 and in the past several years and in the past several years have made a departure from holiday music. This year, the group has returned to the holiday classics with its latest recording “I’ll have Another…Christmas Album.” The new album features a number of holiday classics, such as “All I Want for Christmas is You” and “Winter Wonderland,” along with such songs as “Run, Run Rudolph” and “To Christmas” (The Drinking Song).


Tickets for the Straight No Chaser concert are $34.50 – $64.50. The concert does sell out quickly. for more information or for tickets, visit devosperformancehall.com.


mlk9-e1471880123600A walk in the wintry woods


Blandford Nature Center, 1715 Hillburn Ave. NW, is open year around and offers lots of seasonal opportunities.


Complete a self-guided hike using one of the center’s free, themed-trail day packs located at its Visitor Center or rent snowshoes for a different way to explore the nature center’s trails. There are also Blandford’s Heritage Buildings that allows visitors to take a trip back in time along with an opportunity to visit with the songbirds, birds of prey and mammals in the observation area.


Cost is $3 per person. Blandford Nature Center is open 9 a.m. — 5 p.m. Monday — Friday and noon — 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information about upcoming events and activities, visit blandfordnaturecenter.org.

The Weekend Edition: Things to do Nov. 3 – 6




















Phone home…

The Grand Rapids Symphony will perform the score to Steven Spielberg’s heartwarming masterpiece “E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial” as the film is projected on a huge HD screen.


The classic story follows the friendship of a lost alien and a 10-year-old boy named Elliott who end up on a series of adventures to help E.T. go home.


The movie magic happens at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Nov. 4 and 5, and 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6 at DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW. Tickets start at $18 with student tickets $5. For more information, click here.

Jeff Musial

Kid Zone


Kidabaloo takes over DeVos Place Saturday, Nov 5. From a 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. there will be a host of activities for children along with special guests stopping by.


One of those guests is animal expert extraordinaire Jeff Musial. Musial has appeared on a number of shows including “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” “Today,” and most recently “Steve Harvey” for the Harvey’s Halloween special. Musial has made a name for himself as an animal educator along with helping his animal sanctuary. He will be presenting at 2 p.m. Other stars scheduled to come include several from popular television shows on Nickelodeon and Disney.


Tickets are $7/children 3 – 11 and $5/for those 12 and older. There are family four packs for $20. For more information, click here.


sih1e4bt-720-480_581_325_90_int_c1Holiday Shows


Get a jump start on that holiday shopping by attending the Holiday Gift Show at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, 1000 E. Beltline NE.


The show is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, and features items from more than three dozen regional artists and vendors. There will be items from home décor, gardening gear, jewelry, culinary wares, logo items, books, music and toys for all ages, wine and wine accessories.


The Holiday Gift Show is free admission. For more information on the show, meijergardens.org. For information on other upcoming arts and crafts show, click here.



spaceajourneyLost in Space


The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum will open its newest exhibit, “SPACE: A Journey to Our Future,” Friday, Nov. 5.


The exhibition, which runs through May 29, is designed to immerse visitors in the discoveries of the past and introduces them to today’s explorers. Visitors will have the opportunity to ride a lunar module simulator on a journey to the surface of the moon and visit a simulated scientific base camp on Mars.


Meijer Gardens ArtPrize exhibit allows visitors to take their time at ‘Home’


"Ditch Lily Drawing," by Nathan Lareau, is in the ArtPrize 8 Top 20. It is under the installation category.
“Ditch Lily Drawing,” by Nathan Lareau, is in the ArtPrize 8 Top 20. It is under the installation category. (Supplied photo.)

ArtPrize can often seem overwhelming, with 170 venues and almost 1,500 entries, sometimes it seems as though viewers can only run a quick hand over individual works as so many more beckon during the three-week run.


infobox-4-48-38-pmBut the Frederik Meijer Garden & Sculpture Park’s always unique, often astounding, contribution to Grand Rapids’ annual explosion of art is not only a “must see” venue of the event, but it also has a longevity not offered by many of the venues – the show will continue through the end of the year, making it a “must see again, at leisure” opportunity.


Meijer Gardens’ exhibition, “Almost Home: Grand Rapids in Focus,” continues free to the public through the run of ArtPrize 8, Sunday, Oct. 9. It will then continue on display through Dec. 31, available with admission.


In recent years, the Gardens have offered an international snapshot of the modern art world brought home to Grand Rapids. This year’s exhibit still offers a closely curated spectrum – 13 artists and artistic visions – but there is a consistent theme of homemade, homegrown familiarity in the milieu.


“Each artist has a special connection to the city and has offered an original reflection on it,” Joseph Becherer, chief curator and vice president of exhibitions and collections, said in supplied material. “All sculptures and installations were created specifically for this exhibition, reflecting the social and historical, industries and enterprises, the natural and the creative forces that helped shape Grand Rapids.”


The artists in the exhibit include married couples, fathers and sons, longtime local artistic forces and relatively newcomers to Grand Rapids’ artistic home front.


Anna Campbell’s “Chosen Family, Chosen Name, Separatist, Safe Space, Ex-Pat, Invert, Homophile, Homestead”, part of the “Almost Home: Grand Rapids in Focus” ArtPrize 8 exhibit at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. (Supplied Photo.)
Anna Campbell’s “Chosen Family, Chosen Name, Separatist, Safe Space, Ex-Pat, Invert, Homophile, Homestead.” (Supplied photo.)

Two that attracted my attention in my first – all too rushed – sweep through the gallery were Nathan Lareau’s simple yet exquisitely complex “Ditch Lily Drawing” and Anna Campbell’s complex yet exquisitely simple “Chosen Family, Chosen Name, Separatist, Safe Space, Ex-Pat, Invert, Homophile, Homestead”.


For “Ditch Lily Drawing,” Lareau uses the clean, simple lines of dried daylily stalks in all-white mosaic that, when carefully illuminated by shadow-inducing spotlights, ceases to be individual objects from nature and becomes a single, textured objets d’art which somehow reminds one of both Michigan’s cornfields in winter and some distant, cold, almost barren, otherworld.


Lareau, born and raised in rural Michigan where the lifecycle of daylilies are familiar, studied and now teaches at Aquinas College. In his artist’s statement he says: “My background in percussion has cultivated a fascination for rhythm and pattern and leads me to seek out examples of such in the physical world. The daylily possesses these elements not only through its time-measuring name, but also the visual rhythm of its growth.”


Campbell’s mixed media installation “Chosen Family, Chosen Name, Separatist, Safe Space, Ex-Pat, Invert, Homophile, Homestead,” in contrast, uses a variety of seemingly incongruent if not conflicting objects – a polished tabletop with a seemingly random spread of small glasses, a piece of children’s clothing hanging lifeless, roped gateways usually associated with entry or rejection at a nightclub.


Campbell, who is new to Grand Rapids and teaches art and design at Grand Valley State University, says in her artist’s statement that “this work is an assemblage of diverse strategies and terms that LGBT and other marginalized people have used over generations to mark the labor of making and naming home.”


My first impression, at first glance, sees the focal point as the glasses: most are grouped together or at least in some pattern (a family, or group, at home?), while several are separate, either seeking entry to the whole or willingly accepting a different path.


I look forward to spending more time with the work, at leisure, after ArtPrize’s run and finding other nuances.


— K.D. Norris


What’s Next:

Artist in Conversation talks on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 6 p.m. with Ron Pederson and Campbell; Sunday, Oct. 23, at 2 p.m. with Darlene Kaczmarczyk and Lareau; and Sunday, Oct. 30 at p.m. with Norwood Viviano and Joyce Recker. There will be a gallery walk and talk Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. with Becherer.


‘Shout’ it out: Tears for Fears reschedules its Meijer Gardens concert

infoboxAfter being postponed as the June 6 opener of the Meijer Gardens concert season, Tears for Fears’ sold-out show, is back on the schedule with a new Sept. 26. If you already have tickets for the original show, you already are in. If not, there is still a chance.


Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park announced last week that tickets purchased for the June  6 concert will be honored for the new date. Refunds of those June 6 tickets will be available at point-of-purchase until August 1 – when all tickets for the original June 6 date become non-refundable. Tickets purchased for the Sept. 26 date are all non-refundable. Ticket prices are $75 during the members-only presale, and $78 for members and $80 for the public.


Tears for Fears comes to the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture in September.
Tears for Fears comes to the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Sept. 26.

Meijer Gardens members may buy tickets for the rescheduled date during a members-only presale beginning at 9 a.m., Friday, June 24 through midnight, July 1. Tickets can be purchased in-person at Meijer Gardens Admission Desk during normal business hours with no handling fees, by phone at 800-585-3737 with a handling fee of $8 per order, or online at StarTickets.com with a handling fee of $8 per order.


If tickets remain available after the members-only presale, sales to the public will begin at 9 a.m., July 2, the same three ways.


Tears for Fears’ Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith previously announced they had postpone some shows due to “family” matters.


The UK band formed in 1981 and have sold more than 30 million albums worldwide to date.  They have released four albums as a group. Their platinum-selling 1983 debut “The Hurting” and 1985’s “Songs from the Big Chair” produced two massive hits, “Shout” and “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.” Orzabal and Smith released “The Seeds of Love” in 1989, and after a break, reunited to release “Everybody Loves a Happy Ending” in 2004. They are currently working on material for a new release scheduled for 2017.


While there are plenty of goodies in their catalogue, with a fair share of audience “sing-a-longs” to their eighties hits, last year at Bonnaroo they mixed the old with the new and even reportedly preformed a great cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.”


We can hope they will do the same in September.


Schedule and more info on ticket plan is available at meijergardens.org/calendar/summer-concerts-at-meijer-gardens.


— Kady

Meijer Gardens concerts: The Monkees now open season; nine dates still have tickets

The Monkees are now the openers to the Frederik Meijer Gardens Summer Concert series. The group performs June 8.
The Monkees are now the openers to the Frederik Meijer Gardens Summer Concert series. The group performs June 8.

With the postponement, and probable cancellation, of Tears for Fears’ June 5 opener of the Meijer Gardens concert season, The Monkees will be the popular outdoor venue’s opening act on Wednesday June 8 – and contrary to Grand Rapids-area urban legend, the show is one of nine concerts that still have at least a few tickets available.


While many of the concerts routinely sell out on the first day, several initially listed as sold out are actually not yet so, said John VanderHaagen, public relations manager for Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.


“We had a few shows that were sold out (but) have tickets returned to us by the bands, so many of the shows listed have just a few tickets available,” VanderHaagen said this week.


Grace Potter performs Aug. 3 at the Frederik Meijer Gardens.
Grace Potter performs Aug. 3 at the Frederik Meijer Gardens.

The shows with tickets available, according to Meijer Gardens’ website, are the rock/blues powerhouse Tedeschi Trucks Band on June 17, alt rock’s Fitz and the Tantrums on June 26, Afro-pop favorite Femi Kuti & The Positive Force Band and Bombino on July 20, the always-worth-the-money Lyle Lovett – which just sold out today – and His Large Band on July 24, the comedy of Jay Leno on July 28, the indefinable Grace Potter on Aug. 3, the great pairing of War and Los Lonely Boys on Aug. 10, and the sweet sounds of Seal on Aug. 26.


The Leno comedy show may be the most surprisingly “not sold out” show, with Lovett’s annual visit is close behind. Maybe the best concert still available is Potter – who put out some great music with the Nocturnals but whose latest release, 2015’s “Midnight” is billed debut solo release.


The highlights of the Meijer Garden’s summer season, for me, are divided into new school and old school: Of Monsters and Men coming up on June 13 and The Decemberists on July 11 are favs of the new millennium crowd, while Jackson Browne on June 27 and the aforementioned Lyle Lovett may have – shall we say – a more seasoned audience. And, you know, Seal and his lovely love songs, on a late August night, is going to be hard to resist.


By the way, tickets are still available for sold-out shows if you’re willing to pay the price. I won’t tell you where because I hate scalpers, but if you search the web tickets for the Decemberists are available for between $150 and $170 each.


Remember, get their early for good general admission seating, you’ll need special low chairs, and don’t forget the cool sunglasses.


For more information on the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Summer Concert series, including tickets and up-to-the-last-minute info, visit www.meijergardens.org.


— Kady


Tuesday Evening Music Club brings talent to Frederik Meijer Gardens

Complicated Animals performs at the Frederik Meijer Gardens.
Complicated Animals performs at the Frederik Meijer Gardens July 19.

Along with its annual Summer Concert Series, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park also hosts the Tuesday Evening Music Club during the summer and announced the line-up to that series earlier this week.


The Tuesday Evening Music Club brings talented local and regional musicians to the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater stage Tuesday evenings—free to Meijer Gardens members and included in admission for other guests—throughout July and August. The 1,900-seat Amphitheater Garden is one of the most unique and intimate venues in Michigan.


Show times are listed.


Tracing The Roots, July 5 at 7 p.m.
Various artists perform a musical montage that traces the evolution of hip-hop, jazz and blues from their African roots.


G-RAPS, July 12 at 7 p.m.
La Famiglia front man Mike G performs with and hosts this gathering of the most talented hip-hop artists in the city, backed by his band and R&B vocalists.


Camille and Complicated Animals, July 19 at 7 p.m.
Camille: A multi-instrumentalist and songstress that brings a modern flare to classic crooning.
Complicated Animals:: A fusion of indie-pop and Brazilian Bossa Nova, or “Indie-Nova.”


Zion Lion and The Mark Lavengood Bluegrass Bonanza, July 26 at 7 p.m.
Zion Lion: A mixture of reggae, calypso, soca, and zoukous.
The Mark Lavengood Bluegrass Bonanza: High-energy, toe-tappin’, traditional bluegrass.


Dave Hardin and Brother Adams, Aug. 2 at 7 p.m.
Dave Hardin: Veteran singer-songwriter of the West Michigan scene, specializing in vintage country ballads.
Brother Adams: A mixture of folk, alt-country, and psychedelic rock.


Olivia Mainville & The Aquatic Troupe and Delilah DeWylde & The Lost Boys, August 9 at 7 p.m.
Olivia Mainville & The Aquatic Troupe: A gypsy swing folk band.
Delilah DeWylde & The Lost Boys: Rockabilly and 1950s style rock and roll.


Deep Greens & Blues and Nicholas James & The Band Wagon, August 16 at 7 p.m.
Deep Greens & Blues: A mixture of modern and alt-country, 70’s folk, and southern blues.
Nicholas James & The Band Wagon: Country-folk, with a hint of zydeco, and story-driven lyrics.


Cultivating Peace, August 23 at 7 p.m.
Cultivating Peace: An evening of sacred world music traditions, featuring various artists.


Ralston & Friends, August 30 at 7 p.m.
Ralston & Friends: Local music icon Ralston Bowles shares the stage with friends and collaborators from the community and beyond.


To become a member or renew a membership, visit MeijerGardens.org/Membership


A tutorial on how to get your hands on those Frederik Meijer Garden concert tickets

Complicated Animals performs at the Frederik Meijer Gardens.
Complicated Animals performs at the Frederik Meijer Gardens.

The Greater Grand Rapids area was all a buzz last week. Not only did Garth Brooks tickets go on sale  – with 60,000 tickets sold for six-concerts in one day – but the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park released its 2016 summer concert series line-up as well.


And it is quite the line-up with a mixture of returning favorites, Grace Potter, Gavin DeGraw,  and The Beach Boys, and some who have never performed at the Gardens’ outdoor amphitheater such as opener Tears for Fears and Motown’s darling Diana Ross.


“We brought back some such as Jackson Browne because his show sold out so quickly last year and so now those who didn’t get to see him might have the chance to do so,” said Andrea Wolschleger, whose last task as public relations manager for the Frederik Meijer Gardens was promoting the summer concert series. “It really is a nice mix of returning favorites and new faces.”


While tickets are a hot item, with the Gardens at about 95 percent sold for the 2015 summer series, Wolschleger said there is a misnomer that all the concerts sellout right away during the members-only preview sale.


“Actually during the member sale, we might have five or six of the concerts sellout,” Wolschleger said.  There are around 30 concerts in the series starting with Tears for Fears on June 6 and ending with Gavin DeGraw and Andy Grammar on Sept. 7.


Of course, If you are really hoping to snag those tickets for Diana Ross, the best chance is to be a member of the Gardens since the member-only sale starts at 9 a.m. April 30.


“I would recommend becoming a member before April 30,” Wolschleger said. “You are going to want to be able to get online right away at 9 a.m. If you try to get your membership done that same day you might have problems getting online for the members’ sale.”


Becoming a Gardens member – which starts at $50 for an individual ($30 for a student) – now or even a few days before means any problems can be resolved before the sale starts, Wolschleger said. Members also save $2 a ticket. There is an $8 per order handling fee through StarTickets. For the general public, there is a $3.50 handling fee per order plus a $5.25 convenience fee per ticket. There are no fees for tickets purchased through the Meijer Gardens Admission desk during normal business hours.


Members have until midnight May 13 to order tickets. Starting at 9 a.m. May 14, tickets are released to the general public. For a complete list of performers, dates and times, click here.


The amphitheater seats 1,900 and is general admission. Blankets and low-rise chairs that are 32 inches maximum from ground to highest position of the chair are allowed. A limited number of standard-height chairs will be available to rent for $5 on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Concertgoers may bring their own food, bottled water and non-alcoholic beverages. For complete guidelines, click here.

Butterflies and crocodiles unveiled at the Frederik Meijer Gardens

Chrysalides in the Butterfly Bungalow.
Chrysalides in the Butterfly Bungalow.

Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


For Laurel Scholten her favorite part of seeing the butterflies is watching them emerge from their chrysalis.


“If it goes just perfectly, they will slide right out and then there they are,” said Scholten, who this year is overseeing the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies are Blooming exhibition, which officially opens March 1.


In its 21st year, the exhibition will feature about 60 different species flying freely in the Gardens’ Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. The balmy environment, which is 85 degrees and 70 percent humidity, is a perfect setting for the butterflies, according to Scholten.


“They tend to emerge more in the morning and especially when it is bright and sunny,” Scholten said. “This is because it signals to them that they are going to have better conditions to survive in.”


Approximately 7,000 – 8,000 butterflies will be released in the conservatory during the two-month exhibit with anywhere from 500 to 800 in the conservatory on any given day. The life cycle of a butterfly is about two to three weeks.


The Butterflies are Blooming remains one of the Gardens largest exhibitions with more than 150,000 visitors expected to come through, said the Gardens Public Relations Manager Andrea Wolschleger


“I think it is because of the timing,” Wolschleger said. “It’s a warm, sunny exhibition, a good reason to escape the cold and it signals spring.


“Also, I think it appeals to just about anyone. Whether you are 5-years-old or 55-years-old, you can appreciate it.”

A "Crocodile" by Mimmo Paladino is on display in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory.
A “Crocodile” by Mimmo Paladino is on display in the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory.


New this year is the addition of more than 900 nectar plants that will add vivid blooms along with providing nectar for the butterflies. Also make sure to explore the conservatory for two crocodiles sculptures that have “wandered” over from the “Mimmo Paladino: Present Into Past” exhibition that opens Friday, Feb. 26, in the Gardens’ gallery space. The exhibition will feature iconic sculptures from across the artist’s repertoire and new, never before seen work.


“The butterflies really educate people on a variety of topics,” Scholten said, such as pollution since butterflies are the first to be impacted by pollutes. The exhibit also showcases the life span of the butterflies emerge from chrysalides and cocoons in the Butterfly Bungalow, spread their wings for the first time, and are released into the conservatory. Also there is a Caterpillar Room located within The Seasonal Display Greenhouse featuring Monarch caterpillars.


“In fact, one of the number one questions I have is when are the butterflies going to be released,” Scholten said, adding that a sign will be on the Butterfly Bungalow with release times.

A butterfly spreads its wings in Butterfly Bungalow.
A butterfly spreads its wings in Butterfly Bungalow.


The Gardens also hosts a number of family events in conjunction with the exhibit. Various Children’s Activities take place daily during daylight hours in the Lena Meijer Children’s Garden, Tuesday Night Lights allow visitors to bring flashlights until 9 p.m to see the nightlife in the conservatory, and “Who am I” A Butterfly Ballet, presented by the Grand Rapids Ballet, is March 12 and 19 at 12:30 p.m. Tickets for the ballet are $5/members, $8/non-members, and free/children 2 and under.


Butterflies are Blooming will be up through April 31. The “Mimmo Paladino: Present Into Past” runs through Aug. 14. For more information on either exhibit or on the Meijer Gardens, visit the Gardens’ website or call 616-957-1580.