Category Archives: CURRENT EVENTS

Go Forth and ArtPrize!


Despite chilly temps and overcast sky, hundreds of visitors filled Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids Sunday as ArtPrize Founder, Rick DeVos and Executive Director, Christian Gaines revealed the public’s top picks.

Top20-1Consumers Energy kicked the event off with the announcement of the winner of the  Consumers Energy SmartArt student ArtPrize Competion. The competition, in its third year, is a collaboration between Consumers Energy and Grand Rapids Public Schools. SmartArt stands for “Students Making Art with a Renewable Theme.” Students were asked to use renewable energy and energy efficiency as themes in their entries. Zoe Bultman received Best in Show from three judges. She received an Apple laptop computer and a $1,000 college scholarship from Consumers Energy.Top20-4Top20-6The first round of ArtPrize public voting came to an end at 11:59 PM, October 3rd. 30,994 visitors had cast 377,302 votes for art, elevating five artist entries from each category — 2-D, 3-D, Installation and Time-Based. These 20 ArtPrize Seven entries will now move on to the second round of voting, with the chance of winning over $200,000 in cash awards.

Gains and Rick DeVos took the stage to introduce the twenty artist entries selected from among 1,550 eligible works.Top20-7Many of the artists and their supporters were present, and as the advancing artists were announced, spots of the crowd would burst into cheers and excited shouts of congratulations! The excitement was palpable, so much so that it was hard not to cheer even if you didn’t personally know any of the artists. Continue reading Go Forth and ArtPrize!

Art Fans … What’s an ArtFan?


ArtPrize welcomed its ArtFans to a special private reception on Monday night, held at Start Garden. This event was sponsored by Warner Norcross & Judd with delicious cuisine provided by The Catering Co. ArtFans represent the spirit of ArtPrize, where artists are celebrated, spectators are challenged, and curiosity is rewarded.





The ArtFan program was designed with the most passionate ArtPrize fans in mind, and over the past seven years it has grown into a group of forward-thinking philanthropists, art enthusiasts, and community leaders who value art and take action to ensure it continues to have a presence in the community.

ArtFans become personal stakeholders and ambassador for ArtPrize. They enjoy exclusive benefits with behind-the-scenes access and invitations to special events and programming—all designed to bring people closer to the creative participants and producers of ArtPrize.  So much good going on with this group.

To learn more about becoming an ArtFan:

— SF

Continue reading Art Fans … What’s an ArtFan?

Meet the new guy, Mike.




So how do you test the true talent of an aspiring photographer? You send him out to shoot things and they come back with a bunch of photos. When you open the dropbox, you’re elated to see that you love it.

I met with Mike a few weeks ago. We’ve known each other for about 15 years and met through a mutual friend. Over the years, I’ve bumped into him from time to time but most recently saw him at my father’s funeral. He reached out afterward to catch up and talk social media for his growing business, MeadowGreen Group. We decided to meet and catch up.

After working through our business, he asked about shooting for Stellafly. I had no idea that he was a hobby photographer. In fact, I had no idea he even took pictures. He said he loved to shoot in black and white and preferred street photography over event coverage.

Over tequila and beers, I explained how things worked at SF and sent him off to his first shoot that weekend — The Susan G Komen Run for the Cure 5K. Me. Happy.

Now knee-deep in ArtPrize season, SF’s newest addition is cruising the streets, looking at art and quite possibly you.

Regarding Mike’s images below: I cannot say for sure that these were his favorite venues or pieces. What I can say they are his favorite images from his photo walk. That’s the best part of ArtPrize. Our favorites… whatever they may be.

— SF

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Continue reading Meet the new guy, Mike.

It’s official, Grand Rapids. It’s ArtPrize Season.



ArtPrize Seven kicked off its seventh year this week, with a beautiful day, a promising first weekend and record breaking numbers. When it’s ArtPrize season, Grand Rapids shines in all of her glory.

Our television friends have set up camp in their downtown venues,  broadcasting live for our big little city. The city is alive with people. Restaurants are full. Streets are busy. There are food trucks. Live music. Familiar faces.

Parking is atrocious. Many are hitting The Rapid. Way to go, Grand Rapids!

Even the locals who seem “anti-ArtPrize” are quieter this year. Why? My observation is, strictly made through monitoring social media feeds, this year is presenting some seriously substantial art. There are noticeably less dragons and giant like creatures. There aren’t controversial pieces. It’s even rumored that even the BOB’s parking lot is devoid of it too — and the locals are missing it.

Has this new ArtPrize occurred because of the implementation of the Juried Grand Prize?  Is this now two competitions now that both the Public Vote and the Juried Grand Prize award $200,000? or is it that the public voters’ view of “what’s considered art” has changed? It’s hard to say so early in to the competition,  but it’s super fun to watch ArtPrize grow up.

SF photographers, Dianne Carroll Burdick was out and about on opening day.  Here are some shots she captured and shared with us.

— SF
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Seven Cheers for Seven Years, How Beer City does Art


The party kicked into full swing quickly as the corporate sponsors gathered to celebrate the start of ArtPrize’s seventh year (#ArtPrize7).  The HUB facility was a beehive of activity with music, laughter, and of course… ART!  The evening was generously sponsored by Adtegrity and Comerica Bank.

From the parklet out front of the building that was installed in just four days to the “Double Crown” winner of both critic and viewer’s choice, Intersections, in its new semi-permanent home (actually a steel replica of the original, but who cares it’s still amazing/awe inspiring #steelcase) one thing is clear- the art is back in town!

Continue reading Seven Cheers for Seven Years, How Beer City does Art

The “Inside Dish” on Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s season kick off — The Great Gatsby.



Jessica Schilling

Director Bruce Tinker said it best when he remarked that “’Civic’ is our middle name so being part of the community is very important to the Grand Rapids Civic Theater (“#GRCT”)”.  While the #GRCT is kicking off its 90th season, there is nothing antiquated about how they seek to synergize with other downtown Grand Rapids businesses.  The #GRCT is finding new ways to deepen community partnership and uses art as a reflection of life to address issues that are relevant to us today.  Leading off the #GRCT 90th season is a supercharged classic – The Great Gatsby!

Act One – The Great Gatsby:

This adaptation of The Great Gatsby (“#GRCTGatsby”) was specifically chosen to start the #GRCT’s 90th season because it is a “September Story” that combines the fleeting feeling of a summer flying by and the bittersweet feeling of summer coming to an end. Director Bruce Tinker (“Tinker”) explained that the story follows the summer arc and shows how the Roaring 20’s were a time of turmoil contrasted by extravagant decadence. Daisy observes that she always waits for the longest day of the year and then somehow misses it! #GRCTGatsby is truly “breakneck speed,” running only 82 minutes. This version is also the only stage adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel authorized by the Fitzgerald Estate.  Although there were others, including a movie some may have seen, Simon Levy’s script reads true to the book in a way that has the dialogue coming right off the pages.   

#GRCTGatsby is a favorite story among many, there is a reason it is a classic – the costumes, the music, the story . . . what’s not to love about extravagance, scandal, and wild parties?  When speaking with the actors prior to opening night, we were excited to hear that many of the actors involved auditioned for this play because they loved the story so much. Brain Peerbolt, the actor play Jay Gatsby, hopes that the lines from the page will echo in the minds of the audience, much like they did for him when he first read the novel.


Two of the ten actors involved are new to the #GRCT, so there is some new blood in with the seasoned veterans.  We had the privilege to talk with three of the main actors – Nick (David Cobb), Daisy (Audrey Filson), and Gatsby (Brian Peerbolt) – prior to the opening night (September 11, 2015).  They all enjoyed taking on the characters but shared that they met challenges along that they used to give their characters depth . . . each character struggles with a different sort of moral ambiguity, so the “bad guy” is not easily discernable as you learn more about their motivations and see them try to live their lives.  Filson and Peerbolt have become such a part of their characters that they’ve begun seeing some of their characters’ traits extending into their everyday lives.  Filson observed that she is much more animated, and Peerbolt has adopted the “Gatsby ‘Yes’” as part of his common tongue!

After visiting with some of the actors we were invited to take a look at the stage and the set designs that were out . . . just when we thought we couldn’t get any more excited, one look at the #GRCTGatsby stage left us giddy to see it live.  The crown jewel is a replica of a 1920s era Mercedes that they found online – and get this, it works… and you can buy it after the #GRCTGatsby run!  There are three other major location sets, and three secondary sets; he commented that there are pieces and fragments of the scenery, much like the lives of the characters are fragmented. Tinker went on to say that because of how many scene changes there are the play is more like a musical than your run of the mill production.

Act Two – Volunteers:

When you think about “Community Theater” and “volunteers” most of us think first about the actors, as hundreds of hours of their time provide the community with a fantastic evening of entertainment.  However, did you know that nearly EVERYTHING related to a show at the #GRCT is made possible through volunteer hours?  There are volunteers to help with building the stage scenery, the props, costumes etc. It truly takes a village to make it all possible!

One of the most beautiful examples I saw of this was in the creation of the costumes for all of the actors.  The amazing Costumer, Bob Fowle, had no small task before him making costumes for all of the actors; Daisy alone has seven costumes!  Now I just want to take a moment to let that sink in… that’s a costume change almost every 10 minutes.  If you know anything about women’s clothing in the 1920s, you know that flapper dresses were covered in beads and sequins; Bob has around TWENTY regular volunteers he calls on to help him make sure the actor’s look perfect on stage . . . including sewing on all of those beads and sequins!  



Act Three – Partnerships:

Embracing and embodying the “community” spirit, the #GRCT is partnering with multiple community organizations throughout the 2015/2016 season.  Through these partnerships the #GRCT is able to promote resources within the Grand Rapids community and in turn, those organizations are able to promote the arts through unconventional avenues.

Tis the season for anniversaries, and the Mental Health Foundation (“MHF”) is celebrating its 25th year simultaneously with #GRCT 90th season.  The MHF is working in conjunction with the #GRCT to promote the theater and raise awareness of mental illness in everyday life.  The Great Gatsby has undertones of mental illness throughout; the MHF is going to use this play to teach through its trademarked “be nice” (Notice Invite Challenge Empower) curriculum geared at teaching bully and suicide prevention programs.

While you’re in the 1920’s mood, you can follow up your visit to the #GRCT with a swing through the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM).  What can be more exciting than gangsters and the roaring ‘20s?!  Starting September 26th, the GRPM will have a prohibition themed exhibit, which came to them through the National Constitution Center.  The exhibit uses the prohibition era to demonstrate how an amendment is made to our constitution . . . if you know anything about history, you know that trying to prohibit alcohol in the country did not go over well!  The GRPM will have volunteers in 1920s costume interacting with theater attendees at the #GRCT before certain shows; the GRPM is also doing a social media campaign and giving away free tickets – so be sure to LIKE them on Facebook, for a chance to win:

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Final Act:

With the 2015/2016 #GRCT season line-up this community is in for months of excitement!  What I think is more impressive, however, is how our Grand Rapids community (and those surrounding) get the benefit of having an organization as specials as the #GRCT, impacting each of our lives in ways we likely do not even notice.  I strongly urge each reader to check out the line-up at and treat your family, your friends, and yourself to a show, and become a part of this exceptional community!

Reception Welcomes Law Firm, Talcott Franklin P.C. to Grand Rapids l Acquisition of Jordan C. Hoyer Firm Celebrated



On Monday, June 22nd, SF joined a reception at City Flats Ballroom welcoming the new Grand Rapids law firm, Talcott Franklin P.C., formed by the recent acquisition of the Law Office of Jordan C. Hoyer, PLLC. Talcott Franklin P.C. is a national law firm, based in Dallas, Texas and its Grand Rapids office is the firm’s first expansion into Michigan.


Talcott Franklin P.C. is a national law firm known for its innovative strategies taking on the money center banks over the sophisticated investment vehicles that caused the financial crisis.

Attorney Talcott Franklin, author of the two leading treatises on financial crisis legislation and litigation, was interviewed during the reception by Attorney Curt Benson, co-host of the WOOD Radio program “The Lawyers” on 106.9 FM. The segment will be aired on “The Lawyers” on Sunday, June 28.





According to Talcott Franklin, “Despite the beginnings of economic recovery and the rebounding housing market, the deep-rooted structural failures of our mortgage system remain, and the potential looms for an even more cataclysmic financial crisis. We are tracking the warning signs of the next financial crisis.” Franklin’s comments offered specific insights to the connection of West Michigan to the national and international mortgage and investment markets.




Talcott Franklin P.C. is a national law firm known for its innovative strategies, which have been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal business section, Bloomberg, Reuters, and MSNBC. The firm specializes in deciphering and explaining complex transactions and has litigated some of the most high profile cases stemming from the financial crisis.

The firm has a unique business model, eschewing the traditional practice of relying on new law school graduates in favor of hiring seasoned attorneys who typically have worked in house or in government before joining the firm. Because the majority of the firm’s attorneys have been consumers of legal services, they understand that law is a service-oriented profession.

The Talcott Franklin P.C. Michigan office includes: Jordan C. Hoyer, Curt Benson and Derek Witte.



First Timer’s Review of Founder’s Fest 2015


Founder’s Fest is anything but “just another beer festival.”  While this was my first time attending the event, it certainly was not my first time enjoying Founder’s Brewing Co. brews and bands – Founder’s Fest was the culmination of everything good in the Founder’s world. One of the highlights of the festival for me was seeing the diverse cross-section of attendees.  I lived in Colorado for about five years and that is a place that takes music festivals pretty seriously. Founder’s Fest felt like I was at a music festival back in the mountains; bringing together people from all walks of life, spanning the generations, they have created a community with a sense of consciousness for serving a greater good.

 The People.

It seems like everyone in Grand Rapids was at the festival!  I ran into so many friends, and saw people of all ages and professions enjoying great music and awesome beers together.  I made a point of speaking with some of the other festival goers and met a couple guys that had come from Asheville, North Carolina to attend the event – a father-in-law and son-in-law.  Even while extolling the virtues of their runner up “beer city” they clearly enjoyed coming to Grand Rapids and had great respect for the crafting done in West Michigan. After grabbing beers we enjoyed what shade we could find and the antics of performers strolling through the crowd; everywhere you looked there was something to see! There were also the more “mature” audience members that had brought their own chairs and set up near the back of the crowd, allowing for the 20-somethings to push towards the front to catch their favorite bands up-close.  




The Bands.

Speaking of the bands, another impressive aspect is that you rarely had to endure downtime without live music playing.  There were two stages set up in close proximity to each other, and as one band was finishing up a set on one stage, the next band was warming up on the other.  The variety of music was clearly aimed at providing something for everyone, and they succeeded. I heard everything from the FBC All-Stars covering Rage Against the Machine and Pink Floyd, to Elephant Revival which included a woman playing the washboard and a saw. Rounding it out was the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the end of the night, the weather managed to hold so none of the acts were rained out (although the rain might have been nice, it was a concrete jungle out there). But hey, at least when it’s warm outside the beer tastes even more refreshing! 




The Beer.

The beer . . . oh, the beer!  If you’re not a beer drinker, you could still attend this festival and have a great time listening to the music alone… But let’s not kid ourselves – the beer is definitely the highlight!  Prior to attending i saw online that people had problems thinking they would spend all night waiting in line and paying $10 for a beer they could get any other time for $4.  That was not the case on either account. The most I paid for a beer was $6 and the longest I waited in line was about 20 minutes – and that was for a KBS!  We were standing in line for specialty beers (which was a separate line from the “regular” Founder’s beers), I was planning to have a CBS but the keg ran out about five people before us.  We were lucky enough (IMHO) to get some of the fresh KBS that was tapped to replace the CBS!  The traditional Founder’s beers were the same price as what you could get in the tap room – $4 – $6 each – and I never waited in line for more than 5 – 10 minutes for one of those.  If you were at any other festival, you would likely be paying $7+ for a Bud Light; to anyone who was complaining about having to spend money on both a ticket and beer, you obviously do not go to many music festivals. 




The Layout.

Overall, this festival was run very well and the layout provided for a great flow.  When we first walked up there was a line to get in – however, they had about six lines and they had an assembly line-like set up so they were able to move people through quickly.  There was a good sized ticket booth and beer tent right at the entrance, then another around the corner – both had lines that that went quickly and kept people moving.  The whole area was set up in an “L” shape, and the bands were in the corner – this meant you could be almost anywhere and have a view of the stage and hear the bands . . . and with a beer tent at each end, you didn’t have to wander far for refreshments either.  My one complaint would be that all of the port-a-johns were at one end – while this may have been good to concentrate the smell and all that, it would have been nice to have a small row near the entrance/exit. 



The Vendors.

I did not eat at the festival, but I did note that there were food booths.  I saw that Slows BBQ was there and I saw people walking around with Gyros.  The vendors that really impressed me were the ones selling “stuff.”  The festival focused on having local entrepreneurs – there were no booths selling carnival-type-flashy-thingy-loud-hats-and-stupid-shirts; there were booths with beautiful locally made items.  You could get clothing, but it was sustainable/recycled and made by a small business, there were wood working pieces, leather items, paintings, and there were not so many that you felt like you were at a craft show.  It was just right in the variety, originality, and quantity.

I will be back at this festival again! It was a great time, I saw people I knew from all parts of my life, made some new friends, had some excellent beers and listened to some fantastic music. The festival was well run and set up, I didn’t spend the entire time waiting in line, and didn’t spend any more on drinks than I would’ve in a normal night out at Founder’s.  It was a great event and a great way to celebrate this awesome Beer City USA town that we are lucky enough to live in!

Live Coverage 2015 Presented by Wolverine Worldwide



Last Saturday, Stellafly hit Live Coverage, UICA‘s largest fundraiser of the year. Live Coverage presented some of the regions most talented artists creating live on site, performances by AOK and We Draw Together, and a terrace dance party thanks to Silent Disco.

Each year Live Coverage celebrates UICA’s role as a leader and supporter of contemporary arts, and features dozens of artists creating works for sale in both live and silent auctions. The event is the organizations’ centerpiece fundraising event. Each artist donates 70% of art sales to UICA, and 100% of all other proceeds go toward the programs and exhibitions of UICA year-round. Guests also had the opportunity to bid on completed art pieces, all while getting to know the artists behind the work, and enjoying food, drink, and entertainment. This year’s event brought in 350 attendees.

SF had a unique opportunity to sit chat with a couple of the participants, to learn more about their lives as working artists and the pieces they were creating for this year’s Live Coverage.

Michael Peoples, a conceptual artist who creates text-based work, likes playing with material like lemon juice and beer to write secret messages in his pieces. Michael finds Grand Rapids to be an art-focused community and it is because of this support that he got back to working on his art again. He had stopped showing his work in the early 90s but 5 years ago, starting with ArtPrize, he re-entered the scene. He loves Live Coverage because it brings all the artists together and you have the opportunity to meet people you haven’t met before.

Loralee Grace created a small watercolor and gouache painting for the event, a mountainous landscape with patterns hovering in the sky. She creates oil paintings as well, but decided on a gouache and watercolor piece for the event. It’s a faster working process and she was able to progress the piece from an earlier stage live at the event.
Her inspiration for her piece came from recent travels to Wadi Rum, Jordan. Loralee’s husband is a filmmaker and photographer, the photo reference for this piece is a photo-stitch he made while we were walking through Wadi Rum desert one day. The patterns in the painting are local to Wadi Rum and represent otherworldly and spiritual forces which she feels are all around us.
She has been an artist since she was a child. She believes all children are artists, but she never stopped creating. She knew she would be some sort of artist when she grew up. She is a 2010 graduate of Kendall College and has been growing her art career since.
“The art scene in Grand Rapids is vibrant, I thoroughly enjoy how many artists are busy creating in this little city! I only wish there were more, reliable art collectors,” she said.
Loralee decided to participate in Live Coverage for a variety of reasons, primarily the exposure, but also the energy. She spends most of her days alone in her painting studio, so she enjoys the energy at the event with many so artists creating live, and art lovers swarming around.

Lisa Ambrose
Cindi Ford
Kelly Allen
Ann Cole
Deborah Mankoff
Jeff Kraus
Stephanie Wooster
Rachael Van Dyke
Rick Beerhorst
Garrett Brooks
Michael Peoples
Monica Lloyd
Meridith Ridl
Nicholas Szymanski
Missy Marrow
Dianne Carroll Burdick
Michele Bosak
Jamie Miller 
Meghan Shimek
Daniel Elisevich
Darryl Love 
Lisa Walcott
Chris Gray
Ryan Wyrick
Bob Marsh
Alynn Guerra
Brett Haberkorn & Robyn Kane
Loralee Grace
Matthew Schenk
Damian Goidich
Rosemary Mifsud
Sarah Knill
Trevor Stone & Natalie Berry (We Draw Together)
Dana Freeman
Bill Hosterman
Jacob Zars
Steven Vinson
Mandy Cano
Sheryl Budnik
Tommy Allen
Elizabeth Hawkins
Casey Huizenga
Catherine Richards & Anh Tran 
Matt Ruiter 
Steven Rainey
Maggie Bandstra
Silent Disco
Channing & Quinn
Marissa Voytenko
Toni Michael Miller

Live Coverage Host Committee

Rick Beerhorst
Kathryn Chaplow
Sam and Janene Cummings
Peter Jacob
Yang Kim
John O’Neill
Jodi and Kirby Watson

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