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The Creative Class Can be Found in Grand Rapids

Sep 13, 2017

Once known as “Furniture City” for hosting some of the finest wood furniture designers and manufactures in the world (Think, access to native timber and a major river to carry it to the mills) – the Grand Rapids region identifies as having a large creative class and enjoys its economic benefits.

The arts dominate in this community with dozens of galleries, public displays, art museums, world renown significant gardens, art schools and world renowned sculptures.  Here are a few of the creative class’ must see gems you’d be surprised to find in Grand Rapids:

Alexander Calder:  While he didn’t live in West Michigan, he visited and left his mark. As one of the world’s most recognized American sculptors, in 1969 Alexander Calder’s Le Grand Vitesse was unveiled on Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids.  Known by locals as “The Calder”, it’s become a symbol of the region, and along with the Grand River, makes up the city’s logo.  The Calder, serves as a gathering place for major events, including the Festival of the Arts, the Fifth Third River Bank Run and many cultural festivals.

Frank Lloyd Wright:  The prairie style Meyer May House was built in 1908 for a local clothier and was unique when built amongst the Victorian style homes in the Heritage Hill neighborhood.  The property, which was totally refurbished in the mid-1980’s, is owned by Steelcase Corporation and is open to free public tours.  It’s touted as one of the most completely restored Wright prairie style homes.

ArtPrize:  Begun by the uber-creative, native Grand Rapidian Rick DeVos, this 19-day international art competition and festival is one of the world’s largest and annually awards half-million dollars in prizes.  Any artist working in any medium can participate and the works are shown throughout the city.  The event draws nearly 1,500 pieces of art and 500,000 visitors.  Winners are selected by public voting.

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park:  Through the generosity of Frederik and Lena Meijer (the family that found the Meijer Corporation) the Meijer Garden’s 158-acre park is touted as one of the nation’s most significant sculpture and botanic experiences and a top cultural destination in the Midwest.  Home to nearly 300 sculptures, the park presents the works of Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois and Richard Serra.  Special showings have included pieces by Magdalena Abakanowicz, George Segal, Dale Chihuly and Anthony Caro.  In addition, visitors can browse the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory, the shade garden, the Victorian garden, the perennial and bulb garden, nature trails and greenhouses. 

Food Inventions: Now here’s something that will really surprise you. Grand Rapids is the home of the wet burrito—invented at the Beltline Bar in 1966 and still wildly popular today. Now, that’s creative! But let’s save Grand Rapids’ culinary culture for another posting.

Michigan Legislative Consultants is a bipartisan lobbying firm based in Lansing, Michigan. Our team of lobbyists and procurement specialists provide a wide range of services for some of the most respected companies in America. For more on MLC, visit www.mlcmi.com or connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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