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The New UICA:

Art & Innovation F

OR MONTHS, THE EMPTY building on the corner of Fulton and Division has stood as a reminder that innovation and the arts are a growing presence in Grand Rapids.

But on July 27, the new LEED-certified

Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts will open its doors to the completion of phase one (the first three floors) of its new space. The location takes the UICA to new heights, as it spans six levels, giving it a sprawling big city feel. It will feature 15 exhibition spaces, many of which transcend the traditional white-box gallery space, two theaters with concessions, an outdoor terrace, retail space and lounges. But this $15 million project wasn’t one

the UICA saw coming.

by Kelli Kolakowski |

former home on Sheldon, bringing the orga- nization to the city center will dramatically change the downtown scene. “We were sought out because city leaders

“We were not looking to move,” said

UICA Executive Director Jeff Meeuwsen. “In fact, we love the building that we’re in and have been very happy there. When we were approached by the developer, we saw that there is a great need in the community. That location at the city center says a lot about what the city is becoming. It will be our fifth building, but the first that we’ve designed from the ground up. It will be a really inspirational space. All around, it was an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up.” And though the location of

the new space is only a hop from the UICA’s

thought the UICA was the right fit for that location and to anchor the arts,” Meeuwsen said. “We really hope that people will leave our doors and venture out and see retail spaces and restaurants. And how great is it that the UICA is a space for innova- tion and big ideas and putting it in the city center tells the world that Grand Rapids is a place for innovation and new ideas?” The new building offers


July 31, 2-7 p.m. FREE!, (616) 454-7000

the UICA the opportunity to show more tech-based and sound-based work. The artist-in-residence program will feature regional and worldwide artists. More work will be site-specific, making

use of space to house larger canvases and the chance for artists to work on the fifth floor outdoor terrace. The UICA’s addition of a second theater is a black box, designed to be a collaborative space for contemporary performance. The ceramics space and Young Michigan Gallery will gain more space with the move as well. The first three floors to open this year

include the film theater with a connected bar lounge, nine exhibition areas, ceramic and youth studios and retail space. Completion of phase two is scheduled for

next year with the goal of the entire project’s completion by 2012, the UICA’s anniversary. Check for information about

opening exhibits, member preview and the Community Open House. n

Hidden Gem: Circle Theatre

| by Maureen DiVirgilio

FROM PERFORMING IN THE old Rowe Hotel to the Continental Room of the Pantlind (now, of course, known as the Amway Grand Plaza), the beginnings of the Circle Theatre’s history un- folded amongst impressively splendid settings. With the arrival of the 1960s, the company

went a little wild. Literally. Due to a number of factors, it relocated to remodeled pavilion in the heart of John Ball Zoo, where, surrounded by fresh air and occasional roars and chirps from the neighbors, it remained for the next 40 years. These days, you can catch its performances at the Performing Arts Center of Aquinas College. Circle Theatre, a member organization of

the Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids, offers intimate, and often characteristically informal, productions that engage a variety of audience demographics. Over decades’ worth of seasons, casts and crews have put on everything from children’s plays – through the “Circle Presents” program – to Broadway classics such Gypsy and Damn Yankees and modern favorites like Rent. This season, which started in May with How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, will run until September, closing with the musical Ain’t Misbehavin’, set in 1930s Harlem. Learn more about Circle Theatre, including

information about the other shows featured in the 2011 season, by checking out the organiza- tion’s website at

Other Art Events | by Garrett Dennert

Seven x 11 Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts July 25-Sept. 15, (616) 454- 7000

To celebrate the July 2011 tape cutting of its new building (hence the title of the exhibit), the UICA is presenting a salon-style exhibition where 1,000 works from regional, national and international artists will be viewable. Each of these works will be sold for $25. Proceeds will go toward the UICA’s youth program, ArtWorks, in the form

of scholarships and/or artist stipends. The deadline for artists is early in July.

83rd Regional Exhibition Muskegon Museum of Art Through Aug. 3, (231) 720-2570

This long-running regional exhibition garners a great amount of attention from year to year, and this year has been no different. Just because the competition is over

doesn’t mean the show is done—there were 542 works submitted by 332 different artists, professional and amateur, across West Michigan that will stay up until Aug. 3. Mediums include paintings, glass, sculpture, prints, photography, fiber art, ceramics and more. So whether you’re going to discover the newest Banksy or to support your artist buddy, take a second to look around at the talent West Michigan has.

REVUEWM.COM | JULY 2011 | 61



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