Grand Rapids Creative Youth Center Writers Gathering

Last night, we headed downtown to McFadden’s to check out an underground writers event held by the Grand Rapids Creative Youth Center.

CYC is a not for profit organization that is new to us. After receiving an invitation, I did some online research and was fascinated to learn what great work they are doing in the community.

The organization is led by Calvin graduate, Lori Slager. Lori owns and operates Sparrows Coffee Tea & Newsstand coffee shop which is located on Wealthy Street in the Baxter Neighborhood.

She stared CYC as an effort to work with under served individuals in the Grand Rapids Public Schools. CYC’s efforts help empower children with the creative skills imperative to becoming successful adults.

They provide one-on-one attention and project based learning. They inspire the community to find, develop, and share their voices.

They also provide an inspiring environment in which young minds can learn to express themselves through creative and expository writing.

They help them explore visual communication tools that will work hand in hand with their verbal skills. They provide excellent mentors to Grand Rapids’ young writers.

They. They do a lot of things. Learn more about them by ‘liking’ their facebook page and learning how you can get involved.

Find them on Facebook link:

Photography: Terry Johnston :: Story: Stellafly

Artist Rebecca Green: “Old World, New World” at Saugatuck Center for the Arts

Last weekend we hit the lakeshore this weekend to join the Saugatuck Center For the Arts and Artist Rebecca Green for her solo show, “Old World, New World”. The collection featured over 30 pieces, all of which have been created in the past year. The work ranged in size, medium, and subject, and will include a number of new paintings.

The show was curated by Miranda Krajniak and promotioned by Sarah Abel. Thanks so much for inviting us to this terrific opening.

For more information on the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, visit their website:

Find them on Facebook:

Jane’s Addiction plays DeVos Performance Hall

Perry Farrell turns 53 years old next week and is still seriously smokin’ hot. In fact, Jane’s Addiction as a whole is way sexier today then the first time I saw them at Lollapalooza back in the early ‘90s.

When we heard that Jane’s Addition was coming to Grand Rapids, we didn’t hesitate to buy our tickets and begin our attempt to secure a photo pass. An exciting and edgy show coming to Grand Rapids is always welcome — particularly for a Gen-Xer like me.

DeVos Performance Hall served as the perfect venue for these guys. An intimate setting where any seat really is a great seat. I was excited to find that the tickets my husband had bought were in the ‘Dress Circle.’ I had no idea what that was until I walked up to the front of the theather, literally 3 rows aways from the stage. At showtime, the lights dimmed and recognizable Pink Floyd tunes played in the darkness. Floyd’s music was a perfect segway into with their mellow opener “Underground” from 2011 album “The Great Escape Artist”.

They didn’t stay quiet for long. FarrellNavarro, drummer Stephen Perkins and bassist Chris Chaney kicked it into high gear with “Ted, Just Admit It…”, also known as the “Sex is violent!” song which got the crowd on their feet.

They played all of the gen-x classics – “Been Caught Stealing,” “Classic Girl,” “Ain’t No Right.” Of course they didn’t forget  “Jane Says,” complete with the steel drums and encouragement for the audience participation.

The entire show was a mix of interesting theatrics consisting of local performers from Grand Rapids’ Daredevil Circus, kinky bondage videos, strobe-lights and super hot rockstars.

The end of the main set was played for over ten minutes with “Three Days,” transitioning into “Stop” giving Navarro an opportunity to grab the spotlight with his amazing guitar solos.

We cover a lot of music but this show stood out for me from all the rest. Maybe it’s because I’m in my 40s and it was a delightful trip back in time with great memories of  parties and youth. Maybe it’s because at the end of the show, each of the band members walked along the edge of the stage, touching the hands of the fans. I am not one to get starstruck but when Dave Navarro looked into my eyes and held onto my outreached hands for several seemingly long seconds, I turned into a lovesick teenager. I will never forget that feeling.

The sexual sound and energy of Jane’s Addiction has truly only gotten better with time or perhaps it’s that I appreciate them so much more now. A huge shout out to Bari Lieberman for securing Tim a great spot to shoot. We wish the entire band all the best and look forward to their return. Shine on, guys!

Jane’s Addiction on the web:

Jane’s Addiction of Facebook:

photography: Tim Motley :: story: Stellafly


The Black Keys play VanAndel Arena

“The notion of big league, contemporary, non-oldies entertainment in GR, is still an abstraction to me. Yet the locals responded nicely to the biggest UK rock band to land here in years, Arctic Monkees, with the crowd seemingly knowing much of the set. Reports out of Toronto on Wednesday nite had that audience not even in the arena itself for their performance, so a bit of credit here tonite to those who were there.” – Stephen Aldrich, 97-LAV Air Ace.

The Black Keys started 11 years ago in an Akron garage and killed it last night at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids to a near-capacity crowd. They opened up with “Howlin’ for You”  and played over twenty songs with a strong emphasis on their latest album, “El Camino”.

The only complaint was that Sunday’s show went for a short hour and a half finishing up at 10:30. We only say this because we love them and wanted more!

For more information on The Black Keys

Ryan Spencer Reed Opening Reception of Shades of Grandeur

Last year during Artprize, I was running late for a meeting at the Amway Grand Plaza and decided to take a shortcut through DeVos Place. I came across Ryan Spencer Reed‘s submission and it stopped me in my tracks. There were swarms of people around him and since I had somewhere to be I quickly introduced myself, gave him my card and asked him to call me about possibly working together in the future. He did, we are and it makes me feel very fortunate to know this great talent.

Last night Grand Rapids’ creative crowd gathered at the Richard App Gallery for Ryan’s opening reception “Shades of Grandeur. The show features a compilation of 33 images taken from throughout Michigan and the entire nation — each piece created to be a chapter of a finished story.

Ryan has an innate ability to pull emotion into every frame. Tim Motley, a photographer I very much admire, said  “there is not one weak image in this collection.” about Ryan’s work. A huge compliment coming from him and as a gallery owner, curator and lover of visual images it makes me proud to hang such a powerful show.

Reed explains that the images are a product of a pilgrimage to rediscover things left behind through the dim and murky light of history. Some are filled with symbols while others are simply about conveying mood or feeling. They are an attempt to tell the story of a nation amidst the death of the American Industrial Revolution, when ambitions of empire and the specter of hubris pull at a superpower in transition – at odds with itself and gasping for compass beyond the precipice of shifting paradigm.

Ryan’s journey began documenting critical social issues when he self-financed a move to east Africa. He worked in that region and covered the Sudanese Diaspora for nearly 7 years. Ryan has entered Sudan a half dozen times in addition to covering the mass exodus of refugees to Eastern Chad and Kenya. In late summer 2004, he returned from covering the War in Darfur to produce that body of work for distribution. This work was widely exhibited in the States and abroad. The Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute awarded him with the Documentary Photography Project’s Distribution Grant in 2006 to help this work reach additional audiences. While exhibiting and speaking internationally on the subject of Sudan, he has begun a long-term project on the hubris of power and the twilight of the American industrial revolution. A chapter of this work on Detroit is currently being distributed.

Ryan’s “Sudan: The Cost of Silence” placed in the Top 25 in 2011’s ArtPrize.

Ryan’s work will be up through April 15. Come take a look and see what story you hear and see.

To learn more about Ryan Spencer Reed, visit his website:

Photography: Terry Johnston :: Story: Richard App

All things fabulous at the Cheeky Strut

Established in early 2009 by KL Christoffersen, Cheeky Strut is a high energy, cutting edge salon located in trendy downtown Grand Rapids. Renowned as one of GR’s best, Cheeky Strut has been featured in and on many local and regional publications and television programs.

Their world class stylists offer a personalized and genuinely caring experience with a focus on creating your very own cheeky strut. They provide an unconditional commitment to authentic beauty and legendary customer service. They’ve recently renovated their space adding many square feet to accomodate for new services that they provide including eyelash extensions, waxing and sugaring, spray tans, hair extensions just to name a few. They’re always on trend with the newest and best products including styling tools and nail polish. They also have a fun blog with even more tips on how to stay beautiful: Tusseled which is authored by professional stylist Kelsey Zahn.

This spring their new expansion will be available to rent for private parties. What little lady doesn’t want to have a getting pretty party with her girl friends?

They also host a lot of cool events like last weekend’s BYOB Night.

Bring Your Own Blowdryer Night was conveniently held early on a Saturday evening to be useful. A handful of women got a hands on tutorial and tips on how to style their hair.

Their next party you won’t want to miss! They are celebrating their 3 year anniversary with music, cocktails and food. Stop by so they can show you all of their awesomeness. You won’t want to miss it! Event info:

For more information on Cheeky Strut, visit their website:

Cheeky Strut is located at 216 Grandville Avenue SW, Grand Rapids (across from Founders)
Phone: 616-272-3123


Reverend Horton Heat Plays The Intersection

As a long time fan of Reverend Horton Heat, it was no surprise that we were pretty excited about the show coming to Grand Rapids’ Intersection last night. The atmosphere in Intersection was electric, and Reverend Horton Heat never ever disappoints.

Their “country-fed punkabilly” songs are also described as psychobilly — a mixture of country, surf, punk, big band, swing, and rockabilly, all played super loud and energetically with lyrics that are often very humorous. The band has achieved success within the genre and even in mainstream America with many of their songs being featured in video games and commercials.

The Reverend Horton Heat, aka Jim Heath, is the biggest, baddest, rocker that ever piled his hair up and pounded the drinks down. Without question, for all of his crazy stints, sizzling performances and legendary musical prowess, the one thing The Rev always gets asked about is the story behind his unusual and rather clerical moniker.

The Rev’s been at this awhile. He’s got nearly 20 years in and his country-flavored punkabilly and onstage antics have brought him and his band a noticably diverse fan base and a loyal cult following.

Reverend Horton Heat is currently on tour this year. It’s definitely a great show and if you have a chance to see them live, do it. Drink lots of beer, make your hair huge and wear your earplugs!


West Michigan Women’s Expo!

West Michigan Women’s Expo!
DeVos Place
March 9-11, 2012
Danielle Josephine DeWitt

The West Michigan Women’s Expo celebrated its 14th year this weekend at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids. Thousands of women came to check out this event that features hundreds of vendors including everything from fashion to health and wellness to home décor.

As I walked past the Great Lakes Pub Cruiser, the electronic palm reader, and the multitude of designer jewelry booths, I came upon the group from WGVU Engage’s Women & Girls Lead. If you have not heard of this great new initiative yet, you will soon.

Women & Girls Lead is a national initiative to empower females and encourage them to work on improving their communities, take on local and global challenges, and to be innovators in science, the arts, business, and leadership. WGVU is one of many media partners and will help by creating awareness, providing education, and developing community programs that will join women and girls together in strategic ways to develop solutions that are sustainable for future generations.

I had the opportunity to speak with the always engaging Shelley Irwin, host of The Morning Show on WGVU (which airs Monday through Friday, 9-11 a.m. on 88.5 and 95.3FM in Grand Rapids). She is the co-chair of the Women & Girls Lead initiative, and as one of West Michigan’s 50 Most Influential Women, she is a great role model for females today. She talked to me about the structure and goals of this great program.

Right now there is an Advisory Council made up of 90 community leaders from the West Michigan area, and a Steering Committee whose members serve as the “worker bees” of the group. Looking to the future, Irwin would like to see a youth advisory committee comprised of young girls who can provide input on the important issues. She said they have chosen three pillars of focus, “Leadership, Living Well, and Ending Violence.”

Shelley talked about how WGVU and other public media outlets throughout the country are able to promote Women & Girls Lead through radio and TV interviews, special films, and reaching out to girls and women in their areas to show them ways they can be part of this initiative. It is all about “girl power.” She said that one of the ultimate goals would be for Women & Girls Lead to serve as a “clearinghouse for female leadership opportunities.”

Please take some time to check out their website——and “like” their Facebook page and see how you can be involved, too.

Giggle Ball. Jessica Ann Tyson’s Chocolate Extravaganza benefiting Laughfest & Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids

Giggle Ball. Jessica Ann Tyson’s Chocolate Extravaganza
benefiting Laughfest and Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids
Amway Grand Plaza :: Ambassador Ballroom
Friday, March 9, 2012

Our friend, supporter, community leader and event mogul Jessica Ann Tyson shared her 40th birthday party by throwing herself an event themed fundraiser called: “Giggle Ball – Jessica Ann’s Chocolate Themed Birthday Extravaganza,” benefiting Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids.

If you don’t know Jessica Ann, as one of GR’s hottest event planners, she always goes above board with her parties. Last night featured strolling chocolate — wayyy too much chocolate, Jessica; a cake walk, live band, our favorite Soundscaper DJ Todd Ernst, dancing, bar and a bake off of ‘whoopi pies’ in honor of comedian Whoopi Goldberg who we had shot earlier that evening. (Pics of Whoopi)

The Giggle Ball was also the first event we’ve photographed in the newly restored Ambassador Ballroom inside of the Amway Grand Plaza. Tickets cost guests $20 with 100% of the money going directly back to Gilda’s Club.

There are many events taking place during Laughfest that are fundraisers for Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. Be sure to visit their website, designate ‘other seriously funny events’ in the event type search menu:

Event Photography: Tim Motley