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WEST MICHIGAN’S ENTERTAINMENT GUIDE FOR 31 YEARS » MARCH 2019

FREE!

THE PEOPLE ISSUE 9 amazing people who are working to make West Michigan better Jack Woller

Eleanor Moreno

Brandy Arnold

Ace Marasigan

Josh Bochniak

Kim Collins

Jenny Kinne

Sofía Ramírez Hernández

Erica Lang (Pictured)

ALSO INSIDE: Mountainfilm Festival, Sex Ed, The Comedy Project


MAR

8

DANE COOK Entertainment Hall | 8PM Tickets start at $72 CHECK OUT OUR NEW WEEKLY SPECIALS

MARGARITA MONDAYS

MAR

MARGARITA & TEQUILA SPECIALS MINI TACO & NACHO BAR

16

11AM-CLOSE

SINGLES MINGLE & DATE NIGHT TUESDAYS

STONE CLOVER

FOOD & DRINK SPECIALS

Entertainment Hall | 8PM FREE EVENT

11AM-CLOSE

INDUSTRY WEDNESDAYS

BEER SPECIALS, BURGER BAR & LIVE MUSIC

5PM-CLOSE

APR

20

TAP HEAD THURSDAYS

DRAFT BEER, WING SPECIALS & LIVE MUSIC

JOSH TURNER & SCOTTY McCREERY

11AM-CLOSE

SUNDAY BRUNCH & BLOODY MARY BAR

Entertainment Hall | 8PM Tickets start at $49

11AM-5PM

Get your tickets at Soaring Eagle Casino or Saganing Eagles Landing Casino Box Offices, ETIX.COM or call 1.800.513.ETIX. soaringeaglecasino.com

Mt. Pleasant, MI | 1.888.7.EAGLE.7

Performances held at Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Entertainment subject to cancellation. Management reserves all rights.

REVUEWM.COM | MARCH 2019 |

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18+

MARCH 1 RUSSELL DICKERSON & CARLY PEARCE w/ Teddy Robb

w/ Of Mice & Men, Badflower, Palisades

w/ Colony House, Tyson Motsenbocker 18+

march 15 THE PUMP & DUMP SHOW

MARCH 14 QUINN XCII

w/ Ashe, Christian French

*

march 6 NOTHING MORE

MARCH 2 SWITCHFOOT

*

MARCH 8 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

*

ft. The Honorable Judge Rosemarie Aquilina

MARCH 8 N’SYNC VS BACKSTREET BOYS DANCE PARTY

ROCKIN’ HOMEGROWN JAM

march 19 EXTREME MIDGET WRESTLING

w/ The Legal Immigrants and comedians Adam Degi, David Dyer, Matt Lauria and Allen Trieu

A Genesis Extravaganza

The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience

APRIL 2 LIL BABY

APRIL 5 THE WALL LIVE EXTRAVAGANZA

* MARCH 28 TAPE FACE

SiriusXM Outlaw Country Presents

JAMEY JOHNSON w/ Kelsey Waldon

MARCH 30 DEMETRI MARTIN

* APRIL 10 TESLA

MARCH 22 ZOSO

march 20 THE MUSICAL BOX

march 29

*

w/ JPEG Mafia

*

MARCH 16

Gilda's LaughFest Presents

* MARCH 23 RANDY RAINBOW

MARCH 9 VINCE STAPLES

w/ City Girls, Jordan Hollywood, Rylo Rodriguez, Blueface

*

* APRIL 13 ROBIN TROWER

APRIL 17

SiriusXM Yacht Rock Radio Presents

YACHT ROCK REVUE

APRIL 18 RICK SPRINGFIELD: Stripped Down

The Greatest Floyd Show on Earth

APRIL 20 ILIZA

APRIL 28 PREACHER LAWSON

AUGUST 20 PAPA ROACH

OCT 3 STEVE HACKETT

* MAY 2 DMX

20 Year Anniversary Tour

MAY 3 MIDLAND

MAY 5 CLASSIC DEEP PURPLE LIVE w/ Glenn Hughes

MAY 29 HOZIER

w/ Asking Alexandria, Bad Wolves

* SEATED SHOW

11 OTTAWA AVE NW • DOWNTOWN GRAND RAPIDS • 20MONROELIVE.COM 4 | REVUEWM.COM | MARCH 2019

Genesis Revisited


REVUEWM.COM | MARCH 2019 |

5


TAPROOM

DELI

STORE

MON-SAT: 11AM-2AM SUN: 11AM-12PM

SUN-WED: 11AM-11PM THU-SAT: 11AM-12AM

MON-SAT: 11AM-11PM SUN: 11AM-9PM

235 GRANDVILLE AVE. SW GRAND RAPIDS, MI 49503 616.776.1195

MARCH SATURDAY

02

Joe Marcinek Band $5 COVER

SUNDAY

17

Kyle Hollingsworth with Crosseyed and Phishless

SUNDAY

03

Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra

THURSDAY

Hayley Jane & The Primates

FREE | 5:30PM | ALL AGES

THURSDAY

21

John Papa Gros with On The Sun

$7 COVER

FREE

07

SATURDAY

09

Crystal Method

FREE

SATURDAY

23

People’s Blues of Richmond wsg Legal Immigrants

THURSDAY

14

FREE

28

C2 & The Brothers Reed

$5 COVER

SATURDAY

30

Jack and the Bear

FREE

16

The Right Now

After Funk wsg King Buffalo

FREE

THURSDAY

SATURDAY

$5 COVER

SUNDAY

31

Magic Beans

$5 COVER

FREE | 8:30PM

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

SATURDAY

SUNDAY

Cheap Pitcher Night with $10 class 1 pitchers & Trivia Night (7pm-close)

Cheap Pint Night with $3 class one and $4 class two pints & Open Mic Night (8pm-close)

Mug Club Day

Taproom Exclusive Beer Special with $1 off of featured TRX beer & Free Live Music

Live Music

Service Industry Day with $1.25 off pints (11am-close)

ALL SHOWS ARE AGES 21+ AND BEGIN AT 9:30 UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED

6 | REVUEWM.COM | MARCH 2019

@FOUNDERSGRANDRAPIDS

@FOUNDERSGRANDRAPIDS


WHAT’S INSIDE

March 2019 | Volume 31, Issue 3

SCENE: 10 12 13 14

What’s Going On Biz Beat Potshots Teach The Children Well: The uphill climb to teach comprehensive sex ed in West Michigan

SOUNDS: 18 Local: Michigan House

SIGHTS:

18

20 The Comedy Project

REVUE ARTS: 1A Visual arts, classical and jazz music, theater, arts event previews and more. (See the center of this issue)

THE PEOPLE ISSUE 21 23 25 26 27 28 29 31 33 35

THE PEOPLE ISSUE

21

36

Introduction Brandy Arnold Erica Lang Eleanor Moreno Jack Woller Jenny Kinne Josh Bochniak Ace Marasigan Kim Collins Sofía Ramírez Hernández

DINING & DRINKING: 36 Hot Dogs 38 Better Drinking Culture

REVUEWM.COM | MARCH 2019 |

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

N

othing just happens. There’s always an outside force. Buildings don’t build themselves, businesses don’t suddenly open with no employees, and neighborhoods don’t appear out of thin air. In a community, that driving force is the people.

When we talk about what makes a city great, we aren’t talking about the brick and mortar, the pavement and street lights. We’re talking about the culture, the community, the food, the nightlife, the arts scene — all created entirely by the people who live there. Every single person in a neighborhood, city or state is part of what makes that region what it is, including you! Like an atomic structure, a community fundamentally changes every time even a single person joins or leaves. Still, some people just happen to be particularly fascinating. Whether by choice or not, they’ve moved into a position where they’re having an especially large effect on the community — which is to say, on the people around them. They’re the kind of people you don’t forget, because their passion is infectious and their stories are captivating. Those are exactly the kinds of people we wanted to highlight with our first-ever People Issue. We talked to some of the movers and shakers of West Michigan working hard to make a difference, connect with the community and give a platform to those around them. These are not spotlight-seeking folks. In fact, some of them nearly said no to being included at all, so don’t think them vain by any means. That’s not going to stop us from singing their praises, however, because we know you’ll benefit from their stories. Hopefully, you’ll even feel inspired to make a difference yourself, however you can.

’Til next time,

W E S T M I C H I G A N ’ S E N T E RTA I N M E N T G U I D E

EDITORIAL Publisher Brian Edwards Associate Publisher Rich Tupica / rich@revueholding.com Editor Joe Boomgaard / joe@revuewm.com Managing Editor Josh Veal / josh@revuewm.com Copy Editor Claire Boomgaard DESIGN Kristi Kortman / kristi@revuewm.com Kaylee Van Tuinen / kaylee@revuewm.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Andy Balaskovitz Eric Mitts Jack Raymond Jane Simons Kayla Sosa

Kelly Brown Marla R. Miller Michaela Stock Missy Black

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER Katy Batdorff ADVERTISING / 616.608.6170 Rich Tupica / sales@revuewm.com Kelli Belanger / kelli@revuewm.com ADVERTISING CONSULTANT Dwayne Hoover / dwayne@revuewm.com DIGITAL EDITOR Josh Veal MINION Danata Paulino

Josh Veal, Managing Editor

FIND US ONLINE! Website: revuewm.com Twitter: twitter.com/revuewm Facebook: facebook.com/revuewm Instagram: instagram.com/revuewm

UPCOMING ISSUES APRIL

MAY

Year by year, West Michigan’s food scene continues to grow. In this issue, we explore the top locally owned destinations for five-course meals, cheap eats and everything in between.

Revue celebrates wine, spirits, cider and cocktails, exploring the best places to drink and what’s new on the scene.

West Michigan Dining Guide

REVUE is published monthly by Revue Holding Company. P.O. Box 1629, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-1629 Office: 616.608.6170 / Fax: 616.608.6182 ©2019, Revue Holding Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part granted only by written permission of the publisher in accordance with our legal statement, fools.

The Drinking Issue

ON THE COVER: Erica Lang, Founder of Woosah Outfitters Photographed by Katy Batdorff

TO ADVERTISE: Call (616) 608-6170 or email sales@revuewm.com. Space reservation is the 17th of the month before publication.

8 | REVUEWM.COM | MARCH 2019

See more on page 25


TIME TO TURN

UP THE VOLUME

FRIDAY MARCH 22

TM

SMOKEY ROBINSON SATURDAY, APRIL 6

LEE BRICE

FRIDAY, APRIL 19

DENNIS MILLER FRIDAY, MAY 17

Tickets available now at the FireKeepers Box Office or FireKeepersCasino.com.

Must be 21 or older. Tickets based on availability. Schedule subject to change.

FKCH-33253_Mar_Revue_9.25x10.indd 1

2/14/192019 2:03 PM REVUEWM.COM | MARCH | 9


WHAT’S GOING ON THIS MONTH |  Compiled by Revue Staff

3/1 The Magic of Bill Blagg Live

Frauenthal Center 425 West Western Ave. Suite 200, Muskegon March 1, 7:70 p.m., $18+ frauenthal.org

LUNAFEST

The Block in Muskegon Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids March 7 and 14 lunafest.org

Back by popular demand at the Frauenthal Center, Bill Blagg wasn’t able to disappear for long. The illusionist has been seen on FOX, CBS and NBC performing his unique tricks and magic that leave your jaw on the floor. Be brought into the illusion with his magnificent moves showcasing the impossible, as well as his improvised humor. Put it all together and Blagg tends to blow the audience’s mind with an overwhelming sense of awe. That could be you!

LUNAFEST gives us the kinds of stories we deserve to see but often don’t — stories of women’s lives, told by women. With eight short films ranging from animation to drama, you’ll experience stories of women’s health, body image, relationships, barriers and more. Filmmakers from all around the world are participating, from Singapore to Los Angeles. The event also benefits Girls on the Run, a nonprofit promoting girls’ preteen health.

3/7

3/8

LaughFest

104.5 SNX Presents *NSYNC vs. Backstreet Boys Dance Party

Numerous Locations March 7-17 laughfestgr.org

DINING | SIGHTS | SOUNDS SCENE

LAUGHsketball, People and Pets and much more for a fun-filled time in Grand Rapids. Plus, it’s all for a good cause, supporting Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.

There is such a thing as taking funny seriously and LaughFest doesn’t mess around with its good times. Come and take a lesson from the standup, showcases, and variety of acts! This year’s events feature Laughter Yoga, Clean and (Unclean?) comedy showcases at The B.O.B., as well as Laughfest’s Best at The Pyramid Scheme. Bring your family and friends to

War Paint at LUNAFEST. COURTESY PHOTO will bring you back to the good ol’ days, and it’s also gives you the chance to win a boy band memorabilia package! Lip sync battles and lyric contests give fans the opportunity to win the dream prizes: either Justin Timberlake or Backstreet Boys tickets. They’re back, alright.

20 Monroe Live 11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids March 8, 9:30 p.m., $10 20monroelive.com

3/9

Who would pass on the chance to revisit those boy band dance party days? 104.5 will take you back to the ’90s with every possible chance to claim the title of superfan. Singing your heart out to E​ verybody​

HOME at The BOB 20 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids March 9, 9 p.m.-3 a.m. thebob.com

The 80s vs 90s at The BOB

Nothing makes someone feel good like a nostalgia trip back a couple of decades. Featuring the Chicago-based band FeelGood, the night out at The B.O.B. features dancing to sets of the best from the ’80s and ’90s. Which one is superior? Whichever one gets you dancing.

The Magic of Bill Blagg Live at the Frauenthal Center. COURTESY PHOTO

10 | REVUEWM.COM | MARCH 2019

3/12 Speed Euchre Night City Built Brewing Co 820 Monroe Ave., Grand Rapids March 12 & 26, 7-10 p.m. citybuiltbrewing.com

Every Michigander should enjoy a game night featuring the beloved game of Euchre. With eight rounds of six hands, bring a partner that will match your suit and help pick up your slack with trump, because there are prizes to be won! No partner? Not a problem — simply make friends with another solo at the bar before the rounds begin. Remember to bring your own A-game though: The one who wins the last “loner” of the night gets an extra prize.

Gardens and Grandeur: A Taste of Australia

Frederik Meijer Gardens 1000 East Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids March 12, 7-8:30 p.m., $15+ meijergardens.org

Take a tour to the “land down under” and see the Australian view that astounds everyone. With an instructor as the tour guide, you will enjoy the Royal Botanic Gardens at Sydney, before you set off to the Blue Mountains in the northwest region while tasting an Anzac biscuit and Tim Tam. Learn about the rarest plants in the world and the flying foxes you can’t see in Michigan while seeing what it is the Aussies do and even listening to the sounds of a didgeridoo.

3/15 Underground Cookie Club Grand Opening Underground Cookie Club 5422 Division Ave., Grand Rapids March 15, 12-9 p.m. undergroundcookieclub.com

Kids and adults alike will want to flock to this sugar lover’s dream. With the celebration of its grand opening, Underground Cookie Club is kicking cookies into high gear. There will be a special release of the


alanced 24% Dutch Cacao

Ice Cream Sandwiches with Sponge cake imported from France!

Ali Wong at DeVos Performance Hall. COURTESY PHOTO limited edition ice cream sandwich, Shamrock Shake, in honor of the Irish holiday. In addition to other new tasty treats on the menu, come to take a look at the new artwork featured in the shop, but they won’t tell you where. Shhh. It’s a secret.

3/16 Irish on Ionia

58 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids March 16, 7 a.m.-10 p.m., $20+ irishonionia.com The Irish are coming! And thank goodness for that. Raise the shamrock drinks and don the green, orange and white on Ionia Street for this day-long party. The celebration from dawn to dusk features live performances of Irish dancers, live bands and DJs to ring it all in, leaving you no excuse to ever not be having a good time. Come on, do a little jig.

3/17 Ali Wong

DeVos Performance Hall 303 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids March 17, 7 p.m., $45+ devosperformancehall.com

3/19 TEDx Macatawa Holland Civic Center 150 W. 8th St., Holland

We’ve all listened to some TED talks while cleaning the house or procrastinating. But there’s nothing like actually being there, hearing the words and becoming inspired in person. TEDx Macatawa brings in some of the coolest people around West Michigan to talk about some of the most fascinating topics — autonomous cars, leadership in jazz, traumatic media, renewable energy and much more.

3/22

Wide selection of Artisan Gelato, Sorbetto, Malts and Shakes ALL AVAILABLE AT

Monster Jam: Triple Threat Series Van Andel Arena 130 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids March 22-24, $15+ vanandelarena.com

Monster Jam trucks, Monster Jam speedsters and Monster Jam ATVs are what you’ll see when having a monster of a time at Van Andel Arena. It’s a family fun time that will fill you with adrenaline seeing the athletes competing in several driving competitions. All the races, all the trucks, and all the action (without having to clean up) is just what the family needs.

3/24 B93 Presents: Gary Allan in Concert

Kalamazoo State Theatre 404 S. Burdick St., Kalamazoo March 24, 7:30 p.m., $45+ kazoostate.com

Country music lovers will be excited to see California native Gary Allen, whose last album, ​Set You Free​, topped the Billboard 200. Take a night to enjoy country roots with his chart-topper, ​Every Storm Runs Out Of Rain​, and many more. The country-hit musician will entertain and fill your cowboy boot quota for the night. n

ALSO AVAILABLE AT: FOREST HILLS FOODS i D&W FRESH MARKET i SPARTAN STORES i THE CRUSHED GRAPE i MARTHA’S VINEYARD i AND MANY FINE RESTAURANTS PGI of Saugatuck, Inc | 1-800-4gelato (443-5286) 413 3rd Street Fennville, MI 49408-8671 | PALAZZOLOSDAIRY.COM

REVUEWM.COM | MARCH 2019 |

SCENE SOUNDS | SIGHTS | DINING

“My dream, for the longest time was to be a trophy wife, but then I found out that in order to be a trophy wife, you have to be a trophy. I’m more of a commemorative plaque.” Straight from the comedy special that spoke the hilarious truth of adulthood and motherhood, Ali Wong brings her comedy act to DeVos Hall. The comedian has sold out numerous shows in San Francisco, which goes to show that her antics are not to be missed.

March 19, 12:30-5 p.m. tedxmacatawa.org

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/// NEWS

WEST MICHIGAN

BIZ BEAT

A Roundup of Openings, Closings and other Local Business News

OPEN Grand Rapids’ west side continues its evolution with the new Rise Authentic Baking Co. at 1220 W. Fulton St., near John Ball Zoo. The bakery, started by Nick and Becca Van Liere, opened in space shared with Squibb Coffee and specializes in serving up only gluten-free, vegan and soy-free baked goods for “the allergy conscious and everyday folk.” Folk yeah!

DAILY SPECIALS! SUNDAY

KIDS UNDER 10 EAT FREE!

MONDAY

GREASY SPOON BURGER AND FRIES $7 BACON JAM BURGER AND FRIES $12

TUESDAY

20 ROTATING CRAFT BEERS FOR $3 FROM 8PM TO MIDNIGHT

WEDNESDAY DINING | SIGHTS | SOUNDS SCENE

INDIVIDUAL ROUND PIZZA $7

THURSDAY

LIVE MUSIC (FREE ADMISSION)

51 CRAFT BEER TAPS • GASTROPUB • FULL BAR

740 MICHIGAN ST NE • GRAND RAPIDS 7MONKSTAP.COM • 616.265.5417

MONDAY-FRIDAY 3PM-12AM // SAT 11AM-12AM // SUN 11AM-10PM

12 | REVUEWM.COM | MARCH 2019

Out with the old, in with the new: Živio, a modern European tavern, has opened at 724 Wealthy St. SE in Grand Rapids at the former site of Georgina’s Fusion Cuisine. The new concept from the owner of Bosna Express focuses on European bevvies and Bosnian cuisine, including gyros and the enticingly named Food Coma plates. Specials include beef stroganoff, paprikash and stuffed bell peppers. Vegan options also are available. The food fanatics on the interwebs were abuzz with word that the owners of Gita Pita opened a new Asian/Mexican fusion concept in the former Bartertown location at 6 Jefferson Ave. SE in Grand Rapids. Dubbed Char, the new restaurant is already garnering high praise for its green bowls, broth bowls and Asian tacos, despite not having a website or social media page — at least as this report went to press. Take that Zuckerberg! Liquid Note Brewing opened a new brewpub and music venue, dubbed The Arpeggio, on Feb. 1 in downtown Otsego. Located about 2.5 miles west of U.S. 131 on M-89 west of Plainwell, Liquid Note aims to bring “musically infused brews” to the wilds of Allegan County, as well as offer guest taps and a full bar. The brewpub started with four of its own beers and is owned by the same people who also own the adjacent Maude’s Taphouse. South Haven has gone from zero breweries to two in the last year. Most recently, Harbor Light Brewery opened in late January at 516 Phoenix St. and celebrates the city’s nautical heritage. The taproom currently is open Thursday through Sunday and serves up a traditional range of suds. The ever-pervasive bro culture has now spread to the world of hamburgers. Offering customizable burgers and sandwiches in a casual, fast-service setting,

Živio in Grand Rapids. COURTESY PHOTO Burger Bros opened last month at 806 Riverview Dr. in Kalamazoo’s Eastside neighborhood. “But bro, I like fries with my burger,” you might say. Well, bro, they’ve got you covered. Bro Burgers even offers Bro Fries, which come with unlimited free toppings for the bro-tastic price of $5. FISTBUMP!

CLOSED It is with great sadness that Revue reports on the passing of one of Grand Rapids’ legendary hangouts. Tillman’s Restaurant, 1245 Monroe Ave. NW, intends to serve its last drink on Feb. 28, marking the end of a truly wondrous era. With its authentic Sixties supperclub vibe, stiff drinks, and throwback culinary delights (escargot, massive steaks, frog legs, to name a few), Tillman’s took all comers. Generations of businessmen and blue collar workers alike slid haltingly across the same red vinyl booths and pondered life, love and liberty under the glow of the backlit stained glass ceiling over the bar area. Not gonna lie: This one stings. Rest easy, old pal.

—Compiled by Joe Boomgaard If you have any closings, openings or other business news for REVUE, e-mail josh@revuewm.com.


/// NEWS

MARCH 2019 A monthly roundup of marijuana news and notes.

T

12

VIENNA BOYS CHOIR

Tue. 8pm | CFAC Auditorium | $20

APR

HALEY HEYNDERICKX

w/ a special guest | Wed. 7pm | Recital Hall | $15

03

APR

THOMPSON SQUARE

w/ a special guest | Fri. 8pm | CFAC Auditorium | $25

BANFF MOUNTIAN FILM FESTIVAL Mon. 7pm | CFAC Auditorium | $13

05

APR

08

MAY

LUCIUS

w/ Pure Bathing Culture | Fri. 8pm | CFAC Auditorium | $25

03

Tickets on sale now! calvinsao

/calvincollegesao

calvin.edu/sao | calvin.edu/boxoffice | 616.526.6282 REVUEWM.COM | MARCH 2019 |

SCENE SOUNDS | SIGHTS | DINING

hree months ago, Revue highlighted lin- which “gifts” marijuana to customers who pay, say, $80 for a few used books as cover under gering problems at the state Medical Marihuana Licensing Board, includ- the state’s recreational pot law (no stores will be online until later this year at the earliest) ing slow and inefficient permitting and seemingly arbitrary denials. In mid-February, — says she’s exploring expanding into West Bridge Magazine profiled the “moralist ob- Michigan. The business has reportedly made deliveries in Grand Rapids, Muskegon and structionist” at the heart of the issue: board Kalamazoo. member and retired Michigan State Police But the gifting issue may be ripe for a Sergeant Donald Bailey. lawsuit: Attorneys disagree about whether Activists have been pissed off at Bailey since the board first started meeting in 2017. it qualifies as a person-to-person transfer for He’s made repeated attempts to shut down “remuneration,” which is expressly prohibited in the law. Some say it’s a gray area. Berrien the industry while regulations are drafted, and has backed high thresholds for market entry, County Prosecutor Michael Sepic didn’t mince words: “That’s just a subterfuge for shutting out small businesses. He also sounds selling marijuana. I’m certainly willing to take like a hardcore gateway-drug believer. that kind of a case to court and let a judge “I’ve never met a crackhead who didn’t decide,” he told the Tribune. start with marijuana. Zero. Every single one of them did,” he told Bridge. An ongoing case involving medical marijuana Bailey says activists’ characterization of growers and municipalities that will be closely him is unfair and has even received death watched by advocates has made its way to threats from drug dealers. the Michigan Supreme Court, MLive reMeanwhile, more than 1,500 people ports. Justices will decide whether cities and have signed a petition calling on Attorney townships can restrict growing by medical General Dana Nessel to remove him from the marijuana caregivers. Byron Township in board, Bridge reports. However, the removal Kent County restricts caregiver growing is unlikely since Bailey’s term runs through through zoning regulations, but courts so 2020 — a date that can’t come soon enough. far have sided with a medical marijuana patient and caregiver. The city is joined by Despite the board issues, the medical marijuana market is off and running. State regulators ex- the Michigan Townships Association and the Michigan Municipal League in appealing to pect $18.2 million in new sales tax revenue off the Supreme Court. of 7,000 pounds of medical marijuana since the state started tracking sales in October. LansingWhile more than 250 local governments have area Green Peek Innovations harvested its first crop in mid-February, according to FOX-47, opted out of recreational pot licensing, comand employs about 80 people. The company munities like South Haven are taking a more plans to harvest nearly 30,000 pounds a year. deliberate approach to consider the issue. But Discreet, armored cars are transporting product that’s not enough for a newly formed comacross the state. Meanwhile, regulators want to munity group there, which appears to be the make it easier for residents to apply for medical first in Southwest Michigan to push for a marijuana cards by reducing fees on patients voter-initiated ordinance to ban the businesses, and caregivers and increasing the card renewal according to the Herald-Palladium in St. Joseph. period. The group apparently wants to pre-empt the City Council and put the question to voters. The marijuana-gifting market may be mak- For what it’s worth, 52 percent of South Haven ing its way to the “dry” southwest corner of voters approved legalization in November. the state, the South Bend Tribune reports. The owner of Ypsilanti-based Blaze Michigan — — Compiled by Andy Balaskovitz

MAR

13


/// NEWS

TEACH THE CHILDREN WELL Comprehensive sex education advocates face uphill climb to change West Michigan culture | By Andy Balaskovitz

SEX EDUCATION IN SCHOOL has long been an

awkward affair. Boys and girls sit in separate classrooms watching videos about the reproductive system, maybe getting handouts of free deodorant or tampons. Throw in a lesson that abstinence is the safest form of sex, and that’s often the extent of it. But amid a sexual assault crisis that has brought national attention to Michigan, the #MeToo movement and growing efforts toward inclusivity of the LGBTQ community, experts want to see a more comprehensive approach to sex ed that goes beyond “reproductive plumbing” to include gender roles, relationships and equality. Advocates say focusing on abstinence only and avoiding discussions about relationships and gender stereotypes fails to prepare students for life beyond grade school anymore. In West Michigan, though, trying to change the status quo on sex ed often comes with challenges. The controversy has played out in at least two metro Grand Rapids school districts within the past two years as administrators sought to move beyond a mostly abstinence-based curriculum. Nonprofits that guest lecture on relationships and gender find it difficult to get a foothold in some districts, or do so without administrators knowing.

The West Central Michigan chapter of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) offers a variety of crucial services for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Its Nurse Examiner Program is essentially a rape testing program for children and adults who might be hesitant to go to the police or a hospital. Last year, the program averaged more than a case per day. YWCA officials say sexual assault and domestic violence remains a littlediscussed topic in West Michigan. So, for the past three years, the nonprofit organization added prevention to its programming. This prevention includes guest lecFurlich turing in area middle schools — where they are accepted — to focus on issues surrounding gender roles and stereotypes, typically at the 8th grade level. The YWCA currently offers education in two area schools. At one point, it had been in up to 15. “We’re really looking at how to stop Sellers the perpetration of sexual violence and domestic abuse before it happens,” said Mara Furlich, YWCA West Central’s program director for prevention and empowerment services. “It’s about these attitudes, norms and behaviors that condone these really unhealthy behaviors. I don’t like the term toxic masculinity, but that’s what has been going on in the media.”


A PATCHWORK OF PROGRAMS In Michigan, school districts aren’t required to teach sex ed. State law does require schools to teach about communicable diseases including HIV/AIDS. These have to be offered at least once a year at every building level. Otherwise, schools can opt in to teach sex ed and follow state regulations for doing so. Given this choice, advocates see a spectrum of curricula and participation, from abstinence-only (now referred to as sexual risk avoidance) to more comprehensive sex education that’s been developed under the Michigan Model for Health, a nationally recognized curriculum overseen by the state that’s also used in other states. The Michigan Model, first adopted in 1984, also covers social and emotional mental health and drug and violence prevention. According to a state law adopted in 1976 and last updated in 2004, sex education must stress “abstinence from sex is a responsible and effective method for restriction and prevention of these diseases and is a positive lifestyle for unmarried young people.” It requires other material that is age-appropriate and medically accurate. Additionally, clinical abortion can’t be considered a method of family planning, nor can abortion be taught as a method of reproductive health. State law also prohibits the distribution of contraceptives on school property, according to the state School Code last updated in 2004. When they opt in, districts appoint a Sexual Education Advisory Board that includes members who reflect the com-

“...very few schools in Michigan have taken on the topics of gender identity and sexual orientation to be more inclusive of all students.”

proach is “effective at promoting both delays munity, and must include parents of children attending the district, students, educators, in sexual activity and protective behaviors for local clergy and community health profesteens who do become sexually active.” sionals. The board decides which curriculum On the other end of the spectrum, the to use that adheres to a set of 11 guidelines. Pregnancy Resource Center in Grand Rapids Board meeting activity varies by district. teaches the Willing to Wait curriculum with a Cheryl Blair, a health education constronger emphasis on abstinence, or sexual risk sultant with the Kent Intermediate School avoidance. Wedgwood Christian Services also District, helps schools comply with state law provides a WAIT program for middle school while opting into evidence-based sex ed proand high school students that it describes as grams. Kent ISD has worked with 19 districts a “quality approach to abstinence education in Kent, Ionia and Montcalm counties. Kent that considers the whole person.” ISD also partners with the YWCA — under Natasha Mueller, education director at federal grant funding — to offer sex education Willing to Wait, says abstinence is stressed to special-needs students. WENDY SELLERS, at varying degrees in middle and high school, “It has to be medically accurate, age HEALTH EDUCATION with lessons in contraceptives introduced at appropriate and positively engaging so it’s CONSULTANT AND EDUCATOR the high school level. Willing to Wait was crea good experience,” Blair said. “It’s not a conated in 1995 and is taught in about 55 West sistent, complete set of information within Michigan schools by Pregnancy Resource every middle school in every district — it’s a district’s choice.” Center staff. Other districts have staff teach the center’s curGRPS board member Tony Baker recalls his first vote in riculum. Mueller also cited statistics about positive health 2008 involved sex ed curriculum. outcomes from using Willing to Wait. “At that time, it was just abstinence only,” Baker said. “My Attempts to switch to a new curriculum have been chalfirst vote was literally allowing condoms to be talked about in sex ed classes. I thought it was significant that was my first vote.” lenged by parents groups locally. The group Conservatives While the school board doesn’t dictate the curriculum, of Allendale Stand Together (CAST) organized last year to Baker said the issue is achieving balance while weighing op- keep Willing to Wait in the local district. In general, the group posing interests. says the district should offer a curriculum that aligns with the “With GRPS being a school of choice for a larger variety community’s conservative demographics. Group organizers of families now — younger, newer families to the city who are filed a complaint alleging the district wasn’t following state law more progressive than perhaps was true 10 to 12 years ago — it’s by no longer using Willing to Wait instructors and by including a pretty difficult topic,” he said. “We’re a very diverse district. gender-identity curriculum. We try to at least not exclude anyone in that process.” Aside from stressing abstinence, Willing to Wait has also As districts have leeway on curriculum, some advocates been criticized for excluding LGBTQ students with its emphasis see Michigan schools still depending on outdated, abstinence- on heterosexual relationships and marriage between a man and heavy education. a woman. Wendy Sellers helped author the Michigan Model guideCAST organizers issued a letter last year that said, in part: lines, and also has developed a curriculum for grades four “Beyond sex-ed curriculum concerns, the District is also attemptthrough six called “Puberty: The Wonder Years,” which is used ing to shoehorn LGBT material into the bullying curriculum. at Kalamazoo Public Schools. Sellers previously worked at the No one wants kids to be bullied, for any reason, but ‘bullying’ Eaton County Regional Education Service Agency and has concerns have been leveraged by LGBT advocates to avoid been a health education consultant and coordinator for more sex-ed parental knowledge and consent requirements.” than 30 years. The letter adds: “Radical sexual ideology should not be “We do a pretty poor job of educating young people about introduced into the classrooms of our little ones, especially sexual health and relationships,” Sellers said. “We see a lot of without parental consent.” negative outcomes for young people and wonder why.” Mueller said Willing to Wait is intentionally “vague” when Sellers said Michigan is among the most conservative U.S. applying the curriculum to avoid excluding LGBTQ students. states when it comes to sex ed policy. Some topics — such as “We don’t want any student to be left out along the way,” abortion as a method of reproductive health — are prohibited content, while schools also are barred from distributing con- Mueller said, adding that the Allendale controversy “saddens traceptive drugs or devices onsite. me that it started to get away from what is best for students.” The local-control aspect, Sellers added, means “a lot of Meanwhile, Sellers says West Michigan is “profoundly schools are still doing a really bad job. You can’t educate young different” than the rest of the state. people when you give them that little instruction. It has noth“Other parts of the state are less likely to be as bombarded ing to do with complex relationships.” with abstinence-only groups coming in and offering to do instruction,” she said. “And very few schools in Michigan have taken on the topics of gender identity and sexual orientation Instead, Sellers and others advocate for comprehensive sex ed, to be more inclusive of all students.” Larry DeShane, administrator of the Grand Rapids Pride which includes a combination of abstinence and risk reduction. Center, said he hopes more schools “reconsider their stance The goal is to have teachers trained in educating the students on abstinence-only sex education. It’s been shown many times on these issues, rather than guest presenters. that abstinence-only is not effective.” Planned Parenthood’s Safer Choices Project for Kent and Muskegon counties offers comprehensive sex ed, which CONTINUED ON PAGE 16 the group says is backed by numerous studies showing the ap-

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In that sense, Furlich says the YWCA’s programming is closer to “relationship education” than sex education, a controversial issue in K-12 schools across the U.S. and particularly in traditionally conservative West Michigan. In Michigan, sex education materials must first be approved by a district-appointed Sex Education Advisory Board. It’s unclear for some in the school system whether certain kinds of relationship education requires prior approval. While Forest Hills Public Schools stopped teaching an abstinence-based curriculum called “Willing to Wait” offered through the Grand Rapids-based Pregnancy Resource Center, moving beyond abstinence policies can be difficult for many districts. Two school board members at Allendale Public Schools resigned last year amid the superintendent’s effort to move away from Willing to Wait or have it be taught by district teachers. Some concerned parents accused the district of trying to include more progressive sex education without prior approval. Grand Rapids Public Schools is reviewing YWCA’s curriculum, and it’s unclear whether the nonprofit will be allowed in the district, which follows a statewide curriculum on sex ed. Furlich says non-male students are generally more receptive to the information. Some middle schoolers have boycotted the programming, calling it an attack on their politics. Furlich maintains that politics are never mentioned. “In West Michigan, people conflate values and common things like respect for other people with politics,” said Furlich, who’s from Cadillac. “There’s a lot of work we need to do, but I think especially in West Michigan, we’ve got to acknowledge the prevalence of sexual violence and domestic abuse among young people. West Michigan as a whole is uncomfortable talking about those things. We have a lot of challenges bringing those up in middle schools. “Ultimately, we’re trying to change the culture, which means we’re going to be called the PC police. But this is just basic stuff, like ‘you deserve to be respected.’”

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coming is not working,” Hertel said. “If we’re not having conversations now, it can lead to dire consequences going forward.” Mueller said Willing to Wait reviewed its material on sexual assault in the wake of the Among the 11 state-mandated guidelines #MeToo movement, finding it didn’t need sex ed curriculum must follow, four involve updating. teaching consent, refusal skills, the power to “We already had such a great foundation control personal behavior and healthy dating in place,” she said. relationships. One requires teaching students While progressive advocates say Michigan to say “no” to sexual advances and that it’s policy is lagging other states, they also point wrong to “take advantage of, harass, or exploit to concerns stemming from changes made another person sexually.” Some advocates say the no-means-no ap- under the Trump administration. Sellers said federal funding for abstinence-only programs proach is lacking, and that more focus should was significantly cut under the Obama adbe on equal rights and informed consent by ministration. Now, advocates say the Trump both parties. administration has reversed course with the Along those lines, state lawmakers last appointment of Valerie Huber as a senior year passed legislation meant to curb sexual policy adviser at the federal Department of assault in the wake of the Larry Nassar and Health and Human Services. other athletic scandals at Michigan State Huber is the former president and CEO University. of Ascend, a national group focused on The legislation was scaled back from the abstinence education. Recently, DHHS also original bills backed by state Sen. Curtis Hertel has proposed eliminating Jr., D-East Lansing, that funding for research and would have required grants under the Teen districts to teach afPregnancy Prevention firmative consent, also Program that could jeopknown as “yes means ardize a variety of sex ed yes.” Bill supporters programs. say the absence of “no” Age Number “(Huber) is now in a amounts to consent. The major place of influence Detroit News editorial <1 - 5 years 48 for funding sex ed nationboard criticized the bills 6-12 years 41 ally,” Sellers said. as a “slippery slope” that Ultimately, Sellers can “erode due process 89 TOTAL (70 female, 19 male) says sex ed should be rights for those accused Adult program Number a requirement in K-12 of assault.” 11 - 19 years 89 schools, and contracepInstead, this year’s tion should be available state budget includes 20 - 29 years 108 on school grounds or funding for the state 30 - 39 years 47 through a designated to update its Michigan clinic. Model curriculum to 40 - 49 years 23 “I think we have include affirmative con50 - 59 years 10 a moral obligation to sent, if districts adopt it. 60 - 69 years 1 stop young people from Hertel says he and getting pregnant and disothers “certainly” plan 70+ years 5 eases if we can,” she said. to reintroduce an affir283 TOTAL (272 female, 11 male) “You can’t stop them from mative consent bill. having sex. I’m a big fan “We have an epidemic of abstinence, but I know it’s only effective if of sexual assault happening on college campuses it’s used 100 percent of the time.” and among girls in general. We have to do If recent debates in metro Grand Rapids something about that,” Hertel said. “At this are any indication, advocates of more comprepoint, we don’t have requirements to talk about hensive sex ed who also take on sexual assault consent whatsoever.” For example, young women are con- prevention face a likely uphill climb. “Serving all of these survivors every day stantly being told “where not to walk, what and every year, the numbers won’t go down not to wear, where to keep their drink.” unless we start doing something and raise “But my sons won’t be taught in class not to be perpetrators,” he said. “The no-means- awareness about it,” the YWCA’s Jurich said. “It’s just not an issue talked about here. We no model doesn’t work.” hear all about MSU, but what about the stuff Campus sexual assaults highlight a “severe going on in Kent County and Grand Rapids? cultural problem,” Hertel said, noting consent can be taught in various age-appropriate ways. Especially when we’re not looking at our policies and systems, we’re just waiting on the first “Parents and school districts shutting their scandal to happen.” n eyes because they don’t want to see the train

‘YES MEANS YES’

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REPORTS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT TO YWCA’S NURSE EXAMINER PROGRAM, 2018

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HOME AWAY FROM HOME How Michigan House is rewriting our national narrative | by Michaela Stock

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E PUTATION HA S IT THAT I F ARTISTS ARE NOT LIVING IN New York, Nashville or L.A., they’ll have a difficult time “making it” to a national platform. Ted Velie is rewriting that narrative as one of three co-founders of Michigan House, a pop-up event space for Michigan artists. Velie left Michigan after college, heading to New York and Colorado for work and schooling, but ultimately came back to West Michigan. His return to the area made him realize the benefits of being a creator in the Midwest.

“You can see the biggest bands in the world in New York and L.A., every night, all the time. What’s very different in Michigan is that there are crazy talented people here as well, but they’re actually molding and creating the whole scene,” Velie said. After he adjusted back to life in the Midwest, Michigan House was born. Motivated by the talent in Michigan and his out-of-state experiences, Velie — alongside cofounders Peter Jacob and Jamie Kirby — wanted to reshape the stories he’d heard about being a creative in the area.

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He described Michigan House as “an experiential embassy.” “We basically try and pick up all of the cool energy that we see around the state and put it down in different places,” Velie said. “We do that by connecting with as many amazing people, companies and artists as we can and letting them do their thing. We just provide a stage.” One of the biggest stages Michigan House provides is for musicians at South by Southwest, one of the world’s largest annual music festivals in Austin. The team takes a crew of local artists to work and perform at the event every year. “Our first year at South by Southwest was literally a backyard BBQ,” Velie said. “We rented a house, moved all the stuff out of the house, moved all our stuff in, and we turned the kitchen into a recording studio. We had, over the course of four days, 14 Michigan bands play there. “It was nuts. I still don’t know how we survived that first year, but it was magic.” Through global platforms like SXSW, Michigan House is succeeding to rewrite the Michigan arts scene’s story on a nationwide level. “The original goal was to change the narrative around what’s going on in Michigan. Let’s change people’s idea of what’s possible in Michigan,” he said. “There are people who don’t think Michigan is ready for prime-time.” Doubt is one of the main challenges Velie has faced since beginning the project. Despite some of the pushback the team has encountered, they have big goals for what’s next. In the short term, Velie wants to create a full-scale Michigan House event within the state that mimics the size of what the team does in Austin at SXSW. In the long term, he said, “I’d actually love to have physical space for Michigan

House that exists all the time, that is one part business incubator, one part artist residency and one part cultural clubhouse. (A place) where people can go, know they’re going to run into other people who want to do cool and exciting things, and have pride in this place that we’re from.” Simple collaboration is the power of the project’s mission. “At Michigan House, we’re really trying to create space for that authentic connection to happen,” Velie said. “Michigan is an incredibly diverse state with so many different kinds of people and places and even cultures. There’s real power if we can find ways to stack those up and find the beauty in where they line up.” West Michiganders can get involved with Michigan House by attending events, which can be found on the project’s social media sites. Artists and entrepreneurs interested in going to South by Southwest can get in touch with Michigan House through their events and social media as well. Aside from attending events and connecting online, Velie suggests everyone let him know about any artists, musicians or entrepreneurs Michigan House should be showing off. “We’re just trying to create this big narrative, this story, and we really want Michigan House to look like Michigan looks. We want it to be this diverse space,” he said. It all comes back to shaping the story of Michigan’s artistic community and its greater, global narrative. Michigan House knows that when artists collaborate with one another in all areas of the state, there’s a lot to write on the walls of national stages. “People are interested in the things happening here,” Velie said. “When we collaborate, we have a pretty compelling story to tell.” n


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by Kayla Sosa

COMEDY At The B.O.B. Grand Rapids, MI 616.356.2000 thebob.com

NEVERENDING LAUGHS The Comedy Project is bringing a fresh comedy experience to Grand Rapids

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this month to showcase some of the best talent in Grand Rapids, as well as provide education to up-and-coming comics and performers. Labeling itself a “comedy and cocktails theater” on its website, The Comedy Project offers “improv, sketch and comedy variety shows, a comedy training center and private event hosting.” The planning started a little over two years ago, with locals Joe Anderson and Ben Wilke. Anderson said he saw other venues in other cities, and with a lot of growth happening in Grand Rapids, he thought he could bring a comedy club here. “Our goal is to essentially ramp up the showmanship of a comedy show,” Anderson said. “That, for the most part, has never existed in Grand Rapids.” Anderson wants to see something more clean cut and professional, and less of getting a “suggestion from the audience.” “I think the theater person in me really enjoys the idea of, yeah, we’re going to do some interactive stuff, but we also want you to sit back and watch all the stuff we worked really hard on to make sure it was funny for you,” he said. Founders of The Comedy Project take pride in a performance that takes work and is backed up by state-of-the-art technology — lights, stage and sound. The venue is approximately 5,000 square feet, with the main attraction being a stage with audience space for 85 seats. Seating will be table and chair style, with a bar and kitchen in the venue space as well. Programming occurs five nights a week. Weekly shows — the sketch revue — will take place on Friday and Saturday nights. A season typically lasts 6-8 weeks and there are currently three casts rehearsing; two improv and one sketch. Anderson said the best comparison to the work they want to do is Saturday Night Live. It’s the kind of well-rehearsed, live sketch comedy performance that’s not seen much on a local scale.

The Comedy Project. COURTESY PHOTO

“It’s a form of comedy that people clearly really like,” he said. “It’s a different experience when you’re there in person. We have higher aspirations than the content and quality of SNL, but the live experience is part of the hook.” While the group behind the project is bringing a new level of performance standards to the community, they are also bringing in members of the community that are already performing and working in town. “There’s no other place that’s like, all it is is comedy,” Anderson said. “I want it to be a place where, if you’re there, it’s because there’s comedy happening and whenever you come, there’s comedy happening.”

MAKING A COMIC There’s not much education and training available locally for aspiring comedians and sketch comedy writers in Grand Rapids. That’s the other component of The Comedy Project that Amy Gascon is taking charge of. “It’s building a culture where people respect the craft and work on the craft,” Gascon said. People can study comedy, acting, improv and sketch writing. Each discipline has

four different levels. Students will have the choice to follow one path or take various classes to complete the certification. They are even hoping to offer college credits in the future. Gascon, who has been performing for years, has decided to take her next step in the direction of more teaching. She said she wants to open doors for women in comedy. “I think it’s important that we get that representation and young people see comedy as a tool or a skill that is valuable,” she said. Gascon and Anderson both have years of experience in comedy. Other key players include Wilke, performer and marketing director; Stevie Sahutske, performer and technical director; Cara Powell, bar and house manager; and Eirann Betka, performer and theater manager. Look out for The Comedy Project’s opening on March 8, with the first show being a Comedy Project original and debut, Ctrl Alt Deflect, a sketch comedy revue. n

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Saugatuck film festival exposes students, community to the power of film SEE PAGE 3A. STORY BY MARLA MILLER.

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Midwest Mountains

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Growing film festival exposes students, community to the power of film

BY MARLA R. MILLER

Minion Danata Paulino

Celebrating the spirit of adventure and the art of film, Mountainfilm on Tour: Saugatuck continues to grow with a weekend of film screenings, art, music and family fun. The film tour returns to Saugatuck Center for the Arts for the third year, expanding to three venues with more than 40 different films, live music, art demonstrations and community conversations. Mountainfilm on Tour takes some of the best-loved films from the 2018 Mountainfilm Festival, held annually over Memorial Day weekend in Telluride, Colo., and screens them at venues across the globe. Launched in 1979, Mountainfilm is one of the nation’s longest-running festivals and celebrates the indomitable spirit of athletes, outdoor adventurers and people who have a tenacity and passion for pushing the envelope. The festival and tour use the power of film, art and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world. Documentaries highlight real stories about the environment, culture, climbing, adventure sports, and issues both political and social. Saugatuck’s tour started as a school-focused experience several years ago. The center hosts school groups throughout the week, offering age-appropriate playlists designed for students. This year, more than 4,000 students from

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Ottawa, Allegan and Van Buren counties will experience Mountainfilm. “We are the only venue that has focused so strongly on the student aspect,” said Whitney Valentine, SCA’s education and exhibitions manager. “In one week’s time, we are able to share all of those films with students and youth and we are helping them create a new model.” The public portion kicks off March 22 with a Friday night soiree featuring food, drinks, music and film at the arts center. Friday’s Evening of Shorts features 10-15 short documentaries, spotlighting sports, environmental issues and foreign arts and culture. “We wanted it to be more of a social gathering and encourage folks to sit and meet and talk about the films afterward,” Valentine said. “Last year was wildly successful. We had more than 350 people in March in Saugatuck. That is a big deal.” Because of last year’s success, the SCA added more venues, films and events. Saugatuck Brewing Company

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ON THE COVER: and Saugatuck Woman’s Club will present full-length documentaries as well. Other activities include free family programming at Saugatuck-Douglas District Library and a live woodblock art demonstration at Landsharks with Erica Lang of Woosah Outfitters. Lang, a Grand Rapids artist, created the official artwork for the festival. She will have a small solo show and a pop-up shop with Woosah merchandise at the SCA. Continued on Page 4

MIDWEST MOUNTAINS Saugatuck film festival exposes students, community to the power of film

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Above: Still From RJ Ripper. COURTESY IMAGE Left: Woodblock from Erica Lang's exhibit, Wild Society. COURTESY IMAGE Right: Mountainfilm Poster. ARTWORK BY ERICA LANG. Continued From Page 3A

Lang’s exhibit, Wild Society, features a collection of hand-carved woodblock prints that “imagines our lives in an anthropomorphic way, playfully looking at the ways we try to get back to our roots.” “Not only will I show people how I make my art, but also debut some new work that people have never seen before,” she said. The festival wraps up Saturday night at the SCA with a talk by filmmaker Aaron Peterson and artist Tim Folkert, a cocktail hour and the feature film Return to Mount Kennedy. Organizers and supporters hope it brings new visitors to Saugatuck and keeps them overnight, or at least around for the day so they can visit restaurants and downtown shops. The Woman’s Club is a historical venue in town, a more traditional setting that holds around 150 people. Meanwhile, Saugatuck Brewing’s Barrel Room is a nice space that seats about 70 people and will have a large screen plus four televisions showing the film. “We’ve never participated in anything like this before. We’re super pumped,” said Megan Scheerhorn, SBC’s vice president of marketing. “Having Mountainfilm in this area is good for the community in general.” The SCA has hosted a film festival for students for the last 16 years, partnering with Mountainfilm for the past five years. It’s a collaboration that allows SCA staff to show high-quality films made around the

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world in an array of styles, encompassing many themes. SCA staff works with Mountainfilm to design the student playlist and other films and events based on what local audiences want to see, Valentine said. “We feel like Saugatuck-Douglas is a hub for creative, open-minded folks,” she said. “The festival really celebrates that. We are all wildly different but the same, and it’s a really inspiring experience.” The festival is also a chance for local students to enjoy a short field trip to the arts center, screening seven to 12 short films on the big screen with students from other schools. Themes include human rights, adventure, environment, culture, facing your fears, imagination, sustainability, individuality and friendship. The screenings support creativity and diversity and are a springboard for postfilm conversations and existential thinking back in their classrooms, Valentine said. To serve more of Allegan County, SCA partners with Allegan Performing Arts Center and busses the students there for screenings. “We have found in the past decade, film is a really great vehicle for learning and it is a really great tool for teachers,” she said. “In an hour’s time, students see different parts of the world and different cultures and new ways of thinking and are exposed to really important social topics.” ■


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Cut to the Tissue Maya Freelon takes crafty materials to new levels

BY JANE SIMONS

On their own, sheets of tissue paper may not hold much visual appeal, but in the hands of Maya Freelon, individual pieces in varying colors and sizes become vibrant structures that tell a story. An exhibit titled The Feeling Is Mutual: New Work by Maya Freelon featuring Freelon’s delicate manipulations of the gossamer-like fiber opens on March 14 at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. On display will be a signature, site-specific tissue paper quilt that she’s creating for the KIA. “It will take about two days to install. I’ve been working on it for about six months,” Freelon said of the exhibit’s key piece. Tissue paper has been her material of choice for the last 12 years. She said it’s an interesting medium because it’s fragile when wet but gains strength when it bonds with other materials and dries. The overarching theme of her work is “protection” and what fuels individuals’ desire to preserve or protect. “It’s high art if it’s found in a museum,” she said. “This is the juxtaposing of the hierarchy of art materials and lifting something ordinary into a place of honor. It’s such a fragile medium. This is a way to expose its strength.” The title of the exhibit was born out of a current political climate that Freelon describes as “polarizing.” She wanted to come up with something people could mutually agree on. “It could be a conversation like the

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weather where we can agree that it’s beautiful or this kind of weather makes me feel this way. There’s no right or wrong answer,” Freelon said. Fari Nzinga, a postdoctoral curatorial fellow with the KIA, said Freelon is an advocate and champion of the work of black artists. She described Freelon’s ability to take a lesser-regarded material and create something beautiful as “brilliant and genius.” “We’re excited to expose young people and artists to what art can be,” Nzinga said. “We’re holding her up as an example of what happens when you let creativity and imagination do its thing.” The piece that will be on display at the KIA pays homage to her grandmother who “never wasted a single grain of rice,” Freelon said. It’s also about quilts as a medium for transmitting personal memory and cultural history even as they evoke comfort, warmth and healing.

Maya Freelon. COURTESY IMAGE.

Family both inspires and influences Freelon, who says she “draws on inspiration from her ancestors who really sacrificed” so that she could be an artist. Her journey to use

ARTWORK BY MAYA FREELON

tissue paper as her artistic material of choice began when she found a stack of the material in her grandmother’s basement. Her grandmother was a schoolteacher and hairdresser who did not have the same opportunities that we have now, but still found ways to inject her own creativity into whatever she did, Freelon said. When she announced to her parents that she wanted to pursue a career as an artist, Freelon’s decision was met with support and encouragement and a story. “My father told me that my great grandfather, Allan Freelon, was a pioneer African American impressionist painter during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. He told me to do some research on him,” Freelon said. “I was able to see where my desire to be an artist came from and I was able to recognize that it wasn’t just sitting in me dormant and that it was partly inherited.” Although she never really knew her great-grandfather, she has had the benefit of being surrounded by other family members and close friends who have given her the encouragement to follow her passion. Her father is an architect, her mother is a jazz singer, and her godmother and namesake is the poet laureate and author Maya Angelou. “The toughest part is believing in yourself and making the leap to say, ‘I can do this.’ You just have to take the plunge,” Freelon said. “All successful artists took art to a higher place and honored it and in doing so they’ve let others see the value.” In addition to Kalamazoo, Freelon’s work

has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum of African American Art and the Nasher Museum of Art. Internationally, she has had exhibitions in France, Italy, Jamaica and Madagascar. She also has been commissioned by Google and Cadillac. As Freelon empowers herself, she also empowers others, Nzinga said. “I find it really empowering because she can make something so cool with tissue paper that makes us look at the world in different ways,” Nzinga said. “I feel inspired. I can bring some flair even if it’s not necessarily in an art piece.” Freelon’s decision to mount an exhibit at the KIA was the result of a chance meeting at the North Carolina Institute of Art with Belinda Tate, executive director of the KIA. For her part, Freelon is excited to visit. “I’m having so much fun telling people that I’m going to Kalamazoo,” Freelon said. ■

THE FEELING IS MUTUAL: NEW WORKS BY MAYA FREELON Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., Kalamazoo March 14-May 31 kiarts.org


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[VISUAL ARTS]

PREVIEW

Quite a few new exhibitions open this month, letting you get inside and escape from the late-winter weather. Thankfully, a few of these exhibitions focus on elements such as butterflies and flowers often found in a season you might have heard of called spring. Get inside a museum instead of wishing the sun would come out! BY DANA CASADEI

LOWELLARTS!

223 W. Main St., Lowell, lowellartsmi.org, (616) 897-8545

WEST MICHIGAN ART COMPETITION, Through March 30

SAUGATUCK CENTER FOR THE ARTS 400 Culver St., Saugatuck sc4a.org, (269) 857-2399

ABSURD IMAGINARIES, Through March 1 OF EARTH, SEA AND SKY, Through March 1 SONNENZIMMER, March 8-May 24 Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi are the Chicago-based print duo also known as Sonnenzimmer. This exhibition will feature some of their new works, which blur many mediums, exploring the contemporary and historic impact of the graphic impulse through publishing, exhibitions, graphic design and performance. (FYI, there will be a live performance at the closing reception.) The duo has led lectures and workshops all over the world — ranging from Yale University to the Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland — and gained international acclaim early in their careers when they created screen-printed posters for experimental bands like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

GRAND RAPIDS ART MUSEUM

101 Monroe Center, Grand Rapids artmuseumgr.org, (616) 831-1000

DYLAN MINER: WATER IS SACRED // TREES ARE RELATIVES, Through March 3 A DECADE AT THE CENTER: RECENT GIFTS AND ACQUISITIONS, Through April 28 A LEGACY OF LOVE: SELECTIONS FROM THE MABEL PERKINS COLLECTION, Through April 28

ART IN BLOOM, March 22-24 The bi-annual weekend-long exhibition, Art in Bloom, returns this month. Featuring almost 20

regional floral designers, the exhibition focuses on — you can probably guess — floral design, celebrating its beauty as art. Each floral sculpture was inspired by a piece of work from the GRAM’s permanent collection, building upon elements and concepts from the original work.

SELF, SYMBOL, SURROGATE: ARTIST PORTRAITS FROM GRAM’S COLLECTION, March 23-Aug. 11

KALAMAZOO INSTITUTE OF ARTS 314 S. Park St., Kalamazoo kiarts.org, (269) 349-7775

DO IT, Through March 3

nation. Once inside the exhibit — where it is 85 degrees with 70-percent humidity, which sounds wonderful — there are more than 7,000 different butterflies from more than 60 species just flying all around your head.

URBAN INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS

LAFONTSEE GALLERIES

WARM WATER: NEW WORKS BY CHARLES EDWARD WILLIAMS, Through April 28

833 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids 410 W. Center St., Douglas lafontsee.us

HOLD DEAR; OBJECTS TO COLLECT & CHERISH, Through March 23

MUSKEGON MUSEUM OF ART 296 W. Webster Ave., Muskegon muskegonartmuseum.org, (231) 720-2570

SONS: SEEING THE MODERN AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE, Through March 10 AD MAN: JOSEPH GREY II, Through March 10 A + FOR EDUCATORS: ILLUSTRATIONS BY PATRICIA POLACCO, Through May 12 AMERICAN SPECTACLE: PAINTINGS FROM THE MANOOGIAN COLLECTION OF AMERICAN ART, Through April 28 IN PIECES: THE ART OF VINTAGE PUZZLES,

2 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids uica.org, (616) 454-7000

OR DOES IT EXPLODE?, Through June 16

CALVIN COLLEGE CENTER ART GALLERY 106 S. Division, Grand Rapids calvin.edu/centerartgallery/studio, (616) 526-6271

HAGUE SCHOOL PAINTINGS, Through July 31

CRAIG GOODWORTH AND DAVID HOOKER, March 7-April 27 Central to this exhibit will be buzzing bees and beekeeping. Craig Goodworth and David Hooker prefer different mediums — Goodworth works in installation and poetry, Hooker in ceramics. However, they’re interested in similar themes, including memory, place, ritual, landscape, community, and process. Each looks to the natural world to explore those ideas.

Through April 21

WATANABE: JAPANESE PRINT ENVOY, Through March 10

THE EXPRESSIONIST FIGURE, Through May 5

THE FEELING IS MUTUAL: NEW WORK BY MAYA FREELON, March 14 - May 31 YOUNG ARTISTS OF KALAMAZOO COUNTY, March 16 - April 14 REWARDS OF WISDOM: CONTEMPORARY CHINESE INK PAINTING, March 23 - June 16 & CHERISH, Through March 23

FREDERIK MEIJER GARDENS & SCULPTURE PARK 1000 East Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids meijergardens.org, (888) 957-1580

A NATIONAL TREASURE: FRED MEIJER, HIS COLLECTION AND LEGACY, Through Aug. 25 FRED & DOROTHY FICHTER BUTTERFLIES ARE BLOOMING, March 1-April 30 It’s March in Michigan, which means it’s probably super depressing and dreary outside. Know what might cheer you up? Looking at a bunch of colorful butterflies! The annual Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibit returns this month, marking its 24th year, and is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the

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[Music]

Broad Strokes West Michigan Symphony gets theatrical

Doug LaBrecque and Lisa Vroman. COURTESY PHOTOS

BY MARLA MILLER

This month, two accomplished Broadway performers are joining West Michigan Symphony for a night of Classic Broadway, featuring notable songs by some of Conductor Scott Speck’s favorite American composers. Guest vocalists Doug LaBrecque and Lisa Vroman, of Phantom of the Opera acclaim, have joined forces to sing classic Broadway songs with symphony orchestras across the country, including Detroit, Rochester, Vancouver and now West Michigan Symphony. “If you went to New York to take in a Broadway play, you couldn’t hear singers more engaging or more seasoned than the ones we are bringing right here to West Michigan,” Speck told Revue. “And our orchestra is much bigger and lusher than anything you’ll find on Broadway right now. It’s a taste of classic Broadway in our own backyard.” The program includes favorites from Broadway’s Golden Age and beyond. Concertgoers can sit back, relax and enjoy a mix of melodies and lyrics by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, Andrew Lloyd Webber and more. “We haven’t done a strictly Broadway program for a long time,” Speck said. “This is one of the best kinds of pops concerts an orchestra can do because the music we play is wonderfully orchestrated, and has terrific challenges for our musicians.” Speck said he has worked with LaBrecque many times and admired Vroman from afar for nearly two decades. LaBrecque, a

native of Michigan and a graduate of University of Michigan, said he is thrilled to get back to Michigan and perform. “I admire his (Speck) expert musicianship and the rapport he has with the audience,” LaBrecque said. “Your audiences will love these blockbuster Broadway songs performed with your wonderful symphony.” Although LaBrecque and Vroman both have a long history with Phantom of the Opera, they never appeared together in the show. The duo has an extensive list of songs they typically perform, and Speck made selections based on what he thought audiences and the orchestra would most enjoy. He added the Bernstein Times Square from On the Town, which he calls “fantastic” and a “very appropriate opener for a concert about Broadway.” Selections include Porter’s Wunderbar from Kiss Me Kate and You’ve Got That Thing from Midnight in Paris. The Lerner and Loewe songbook is represented with songs from My Fair Lady and Meet Me in St. Louis. And as a tribute to the Wolverine state, LaBrecque will sing Berlin’s I Want to Go Back to Michigan. The lineup also includes a Rodgers & Hammerstein medley, songs by Meredith Willson and selections from Phantom of the Opera. The format gives LaBrecque and Vroman alternate time in the spotlight, plus they team up for duos.

Vroman has numerous musical theater and Broadway credits and regularly performs with symphonies. She starred as Christine in Phantom of the Opera, and as Rosabella in The Most Happy Fella. Meanwhile, billed as one of the most prolific concert performers of his generation, LaBrecque is a frequent guest soloist with symphony orchestras in America and abroad. He has also starred as The Phantom and performed

on Broadway as Ravenal in Showboat, and was featured in Oscar Hammerstein’s 100th Birthday Celebration at The Gershwin Theatre. Most of the Broadway hits they sing were written for classic Broadway shows with far fewer musicians in a pit, according to Vroman, so it’s even more powerful to hear the music with a full orchestra. “I never tire of singing these glorious songs live,” Vroman said. ■

CLASSIC BROADWAY West Michigan Symphony Frauenthal Center, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon March 15, 7:30 p.m. Tickets $28-$64, students $10 westmichigansymphony.org

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[MUSIC]

PREVIEW

West Michigan’s music scene has a whole heap of variety coming this month. First, we have some concerts that play alongside epic movies. Second, there are numerous shows for kids to check out and maybe inspire them to pick up an instrument. Finally, there’s the usual blend of jazz and classical that we all know and love. BY DANA CASADEI

FONTANA CHAMBER ARTS 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 200, Kalamazoo, fontanachamberarts.org, (269) 382-7774

JUILLIARD STRING QUARTET, March 16, $30+ This quartet has been around since 1946 and has been called the quintessential American string quartet. Now consisting of violinists Areta Zhulla and Ronald Copes, cellist Astrid Schween, and Roger Tapping on viola, the program for the evening will have three pieces, Haydn’s String Quartet No. 2 in F Major, Op. 77, Bartók’s String Quartet No. 3, and Beethoven’s String Quartet in E minor, Op. 59, No. 2.

THE GILMORE Wellspring Theater, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall Ste. 101, Kalamazoo thegilmore.org, (269) 342-1166

DANIEL HSU, March 17, $25 Bay Area native Daniel Hsu — who is all of 21 — is performing an evening of pieces by Chopin, Mozart, Schubert ​and Scriabin. Hsu, a 2016 Gilmore Young Artist, began studying piano at age six, followed by his concerto debut with the Fremont Symphony Orchestra at eight, which then led to being accepted into the Curtis Institute of Music at 10. Since then, he’s performed all over the world, ranging from concerts at Carnegie Hall to Tokyo.

GRAND RAPIDS SYMPHONY 300 Ottawa NW Ste. 100, Grand Rapids grsymphony.org, (616) 454-9451 ext. 4

ELGAR’S ENIGMA VARIATIONS, March 1-2, $18+

THE CONDUCTOR’S SPELLBOOK, March 2, $15 If you want to introduce someone in your life to music, orchestra instruments, and/or conducting, this is the show for you! The Conductor’s Spellbook — composed and narrated by Paul Dooley — follows Tony Stradivarius, who finds a magical book of spells to control the orchestra

while on a field trip to the symphony. This interactive concert is a great one for all ages to check out.

GRAND RAPIDS YOUTH SYMPHONY SPRING CONCERT, March 3 PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, March 8-10, $18+ BACHFEST DINNER & FUNDRAISER, March 11, $150

RACHMANINOFF AND SHOSTAKOVICH, March 15-16, $18+

BACH FESTIVAL, March 17-24

Veronica Swift, performing at St. Cecilia Music Center. PHOTO: BILL WESTMORELAND

FERDINAND THE BULL, March 30, $5

HOPE COLLEGE GREAT PERFORMANCE SERIES Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, 221 Columbia Ave., Holland hope.edu/arts/great-performance-series, (616) 395-7222

RUSSIAN RENAISSANCE, March 30, $23 Russian Renaissance takes traditional Russian instruments — balalaika, domra/domra alto, button accordion, and balalaika contrabasso (look them up online) — and plays music that isn’t just traditional but everything from tango and folk to classical and jazz. The quartet won the $100,000 Grand Prize at the M-Prize Competition in 2017, which just so happens to take place at the University of Michigan.

HOLLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 96 W. 15th St., Suite 201, Holland hollandsymphony.org, (616) 796-6780

STRING CHAMBER MUSIC SEMINAR, March 18, $100

FAMILY CONCERT: HSO & H20, March 24, $5+ The HSO’s family concert will not only have a performance by the orchestra but also include

kids’ activities in the lobby before the main event starts. This evening’s performance will feature the winner of the 2019 Norbert Mueller Concerto Competition, which is a competition between 10 of the Holland area’s best high school musicians. The programming schedule includes Handel’s Water Music Suite No. 2 in D major (Hornpipe) and Beethoven’s Thunderstorm, mvt.4 from Symphony No. 6, among others.

KALAMAZOO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

VERONICA SWIFT + BENNY GREEN TRIO, March 7, $40+ Jazz singer Veronica Swift is already considered one of the top young jazz singers around the country, no small feat for someone who is only 24. Since her first performance at the Jazz at Lincoln Center — when she was only 11 — she’s brought her unique sound all over the country, including the Telluride Jazz Festival in Colorado and numerous competitions. This time, she’s bringing the Benny Green Trio, which also is featured on her 2019 album.

359 Kalamazoo Mall Ste. 100, Kalamazoo kalamazoosymphony.com, (269) 349-7759

RUSSIAN MASTERY, March 14, $40+

MAHLER’S 5TH, March 9, $12+

WEST MICHIGAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

JAWS IN CONCERT, March 30, $10+ Dun dun … dun dun … dun dun … That’s right, the KSO is performing the iconic Jaws score this month, conducted by Daniel Brier. The 1975 summer blockbuster won three Academy Awards, including one for John Williams’ score. When Williams is behind the music, you know the film is going to be unforgettable.

ST. CECILIA MUSIC CENTER 24 Ransom Ave. NE, Grand Rapids scmc-online.org, (616) 459-2224

360 W. Western Ave. #200, Muskegon westmichigansymphony.org, (231) 726-3231

CLASSIC BROADWAY, March 15, $28+

OPERA GRAND RAPIDS 1320 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids operagr.org, (616) 451-2741

COLLEGIATE VOCAL COMPETITION CONCERT, March 31, free

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[THEATER]

Left: Dracula at Aquinas College. Right: Ragtime at Grand Rapids Civic Theater COURTESY PHOTOS

Lighting the Way A light designer’s subtle work affects everything

BY KAYLA SOSA

Many moving parts work together to make a complete theatrical production, but one of the most subtle arts is the lighting. At the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Catherine “Catie” Marlett Dreher is the production manager and resident light designer, so she’s responsible for creating feeling through light design in every production. Growing up in the theater, Marlett Dreher could have chosen any specific theater path, but there was something about lighting that drew her. “I found a real connection between the art of lighting and the emotion, that kind of deep down feeling you get from art,” she said. “It just had such a strong connection to the material.” She always suspected she would end up working in the theater world. After all, her father was Paul Dreher, former managing di-

rector at Civic and a leader in local theater. She was in her first show at age five, and spent the years growing up in shows and helping her father behind the scenes. “I would often run the light board, so I could see what he was creating and the impact it would have,” Marlett Dreher said. “I learned that you can change the feeling of a scene for the audience, for better or for worse, with lighting. Bad lighting can ruin a scene and good lighting may not be noticed, but it can also enhance a scene.” From a young age, Marlett Dreher began doing freelance light design. At first, she didn’t know it was going to be the path she would go down for three decades. “I just knew that everything about theater made me happy,” she said. At age 19, Marlett Dreher designed her first professional show for Robeson Players, a former black theater company in Grand Rapids. After that, she knew it was what she wanted to do. She would end up doing freelance light design for the next 30 years across West Michigan at various theaters and venues. After almost 10 years of freelance work, Marlett Dreher became the theater systems technician at Spectrum Theater. Located on Grand Rapids Community College’s cam-

pus, the theater houses three professional theater companies — Heritage Theater, Actors’ Theatre and Jewish Theatre — and a student troupe, the GRCC Players. There, Marlett Dreher was excited for the opportunity to work with so many different theater groups and help teach students, who are the future of theater. The love for theater arts, but even more so for the community, is what has kept Marlett Dreher in it all these years. “I think the theater community here is unmatched anywhere in this country as far as professionalism and the quality,” she said. “Because the people who started this theater community were seeing shows in New York and were seeing shows in Chicago, seeing the professionalism, and that’s what they went for. No one who was doing community theater in Grand Rapids ever — at least not in my 47 years — ever treated it like, ‘Oh, it’s just community theater.’” Over the years, the theater community has grown in all areas. What’s also developed over time is technology. In traditional lighting setups, a filter would be needed to change the color, but with that, some brightness would be lost. These days, Marlett Dreher’s getting used to using LED lighting and color, which

Catie Marlett Dreher. COURTESY PHOTO

is electronic — an actual colored light source where a filter is not needed. “All of the sudden, you can get really intensely bright colors that you couldn’t do before,” she said. “That has changed things dramatically.” This month, Marlett Dreher designed the lights for Civic Theatre’s Mamma Mia! Her next projects include Actors’ Theatre’s The Wolves in April and Circle Theatre’s Freaky Friday in May. ■

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[THEATER]

Hebrew Havoc

Bad Jews reveals a family at odds with cultural and personal differences BY DANATA PAULINO

Bad Jews, through March 10 at the Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids. COURTESY PHOTO

Family arguments are, for the most part, unavoidable. Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon, playing at Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids this month, portrays a small family dynamic that takes those arguments from zero to 100 in a matter of seconds. When Revue visited a rehearsal, every member of the production declared their excitement and certainty that this play will draw in a new audience with its savage comedy. One night, three cousins face their overwhelming differences in a vicious fight of words following the death of their grandfather. With heavy material, dark sarcasm and a colorfully formulated script, Bad Jews will seat the audience as a fly on the wall, anticipating what the next household tantrum will bring. Although he has directed many shows before, this is Director Tom Kaechele’s first time doing so at the Jewish Theatre. “I was surprised by this script choice because of the unique content, but people are fascinated by family dynamics,” Kaechele said. Mariea Luisa Macavei plays the bighaired Daphna who takes her position in one corner as the self-merited “authentic” Jew, while Matthew Swartz’s Liam tries to defend his position in his conformed corner. The clash of biting words because of different beliefs turns even more wicked as they fight over a piece of religious jewelry that their grandfather left behind. Daphna’s entire life is rooted in being Jewish in America and refusing to compromise anything that would deter her from being the same as the generations of Jewish family members before her. “I understand the importance that she sees,” Macavei said. “I am 100-percent Romanian, so I see the importance of figuring out where you came from.” Daphna becomes obsessed with her interpretation of continuing the traditions she

and her cousins were handed. The entire show is set in a studio apartment on the upper west side of New York City with a luxurious view of the Hudson River right outside the window. The unrelenting Daphna tries to force her impartial cousin Jonah, played by Ian Reul, to endorse her claim to the piece of jewelry. The apartment in full tilt becomes all too crowded with the arrival of his brother Liam and his blonde beauty “shiksa” girlfriend Melody, played by Audrey Wierenga. Jonah and Audrey are stuck sitting on the powder keg, unwilling participants in this family fight. Despite the play being about a Jewish household, Reul said the story is universal. “It’s a family drama at its core and has distinct messages from two legitimate places,” Reul said. “I’m not Jewish, but I can relate to these characters. Every audience member will look and say, ‘I have a family member just like them.’” Liam is all-too-familiar with Daphna’s hardheaded ideas about his own lifestyle and refuses to be pushed against a wall by her Jewish criticisms. This is the driving

power in the play. Swartz said that Liam is the one changing with the world around him and he brings a passion equal to Daphna. “It’s about coming to terms with the differences and accepting everyone for who they are,” Swartz said. “But it’s fun to watch that explode all over on the stage.” According to Kaechele, it’s “a fierce battle, with fiercely flaying your family!” Bad Jews really brings to the table the conversation of what it means to be reli-

gious and have distinct beliefs in today’s world. Wierenga, who plays Melody, hopes that this play will draw in the younger audience because of the real topics that it deals with, such as death and figuring out who you are. “It’s going to spark a lot of conversation because it has a different flavor of theater than what Grand Rapids is used to,” Wierenga said. “This is different from what Jewish Theatre has done in the past.” ■

BAD JEWS Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids GRCC Spectrum Theatre 160 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids Feb. 28-March 10 jtgr.org

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[THEATER] Your youth has been pretty counterculture as a dancer, as you’re focusing so intensely on your art. What have been some challenges you’ve experienced?

Just Getting Started The life of a ballet trainee Celeste Lopez-Keranen. PHOTO BY ISAAC AOKI

BY MICHAELA STOCK

Life as a teenager can be tough enough without throwing a full-time commitment in the mix, but when it’s your passion, the effort is beyond worth it. Celeste Lopez-Keranen has balanced going to high school and making friends with being a serious dancer, and she’s currently a trainee in the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. She’s trained at summer intensives at Grand Rapids Ballet, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Academy of Russian Classical Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and the American Ballet Theater. We talked with Lopez-Keranen all about how she got started and what it’s like to be a young dancer.

Tell us about yourself. I am 18 years old, and I currently live in Jenison with my family. I went through the public school system until about my sophomore year. When I wanted to get even more serious with ballet, I changed to a part-time online school and did a year of that. The next

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year, I was offered to be a trainee with the Grand Rapids Ballet. I just graduated high school about a month ago. Something else that’s really important to me is that I’m half Mexican; my dad is from Mexico.

When did you start dancing, and when did you begin dancing with the Grand Rapids Ballet? I started ballet as a toddler with a woman named Nancy Balm. She passed in 2010, but I would dance with scarves just around in her basement. She really made me fall in love with it. She got a little older and wasn’t able to teach anymore, so I switched to a competition studio. I did that for a while, and then my mom stumbled upon a Grand Rapids ballet summer workshop for my brother and I. We did that, and we loved it.

Definitely time management. In public school, it was really hard to find teachers who understood that, but the partial online school — called Next Tech on the west side of Grand Rapids — was really awesome. I love what I do, but sometimes I’ll get home and think, ‘That football game could have been cool,’ or things like that. But then randomly in a rehearsal I’m like, ‘Wow. What I’m doing is so cool.’

Was there a moment where it clicked for you, and you knew you wanted to be a professional dancer? When I was 10, I thought I had all this time. Then I turned 16, and I was like, ‘Shoot, I have like two years to get really good and then audition for companies if I really want to do this.’ I really feel like I had a whole mindset change. I think I always knew I wanted to be a dancer, though. I never pictured myself doing anything else, and I never ever saw myself quitting.

What helps you keep going when things get challenging, and what inspires you? Ballet isn’t something that you always get gratitude from the teachers and affirmation. So I had to notice, ‘Celeste, you couldn’t do this a month ago. That’s an improvement. This is good.’ I think setting small personal goals helps too. It doesn’t even have to be about dance. It could be to get to class an hour and a half early today to warm up or to be more organized. I had a teacher once say, ‘If you danced onstage and you didn’t inspire anyone in the audience, you’re doing it wrong.’ This is supposed to be magical. So the audience really inspires me, and the growing city of Grand Rapids inspires me too. With ArtPrize and (the city) becoming more hip, it’s like, ‘GRB, we’ve got to keep up.’ ■

Celeste Lopez-Keranen in Grand Rapids Ballet's The Nutcracker. PHOTO BY RAY NARD IMAGEMAKER


[theater]

preview There are some really excellent musicals coming this month, with topics ranging from Mormonism to dancing grandmas to the Vietnam War, and there’s even one all about Carole King. If none of those tickle your fancy, how about dueling senior citizens or a play within a play? BY DANA CASADEI

BROADWAY GRAND RAPIDS

122 Lyon St. NW, Grand Rapids broadwaygrandrapids.com, (616) 235-6285

THE BOOK OF MORMON, March 19-24, $32+

CENTRAL PARK PLAYERS

421 Columbus Ave., Grand Haven centralparkplayers.org, (616) 843-3906

A DELICATE SHIP, March 1-9, $15 It’s Christmas Eve in New York as Sam and Sarah — a relatively new couple — celebrate the holiday. As the evening continues, Sarah’s childhood friend, Nate, unexpectedly comes a-knocking at their door. And it just so happens that they know everything about each other. What follows in Anna Ziegler’s play is a chain of events that will change each of their lives forever.

DOG STORY THEATRE 7 Jefferson Ave., Grand Rapids dogstorytheater.com, (616) 425-9234

LAKE EFFECT FRINGE FESTIVAL, Through March 4

IT’S ONLY A PLAY, March 1-3, $10+ It may only be a play in the title of this Terrence McNally production, but it’s much more than that for the show’s main character, Peter Austin, who is about to watch his new play open. He’s anxious — who wouldn’t be? — for the show to begin, considering his career is on the line. There to watch the evening unfold with him are his best friend, a television star, his producer, his leading lady, his director, an infamous drama critic, and a wide-eyed coat check attendant.

FARMERS ALLEY THEATRE KALAMAZOO 221 Farmers Alley, Kalamazoo farmersalleytheatre.com, (269) 343-2727

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN

THE NIGHT-TIME, March 15-31, $27+

GILMORE THEATRE/ WMU THEATRE 1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo wmich.edu/theatre, (269) 387-3227

THE DANCING GRANNY, March 8-17, $10 Traditional African drumming and dance help bring this Jiréh Breon Holder play — adapted from Ashley Bryan’s 2017 Newbery Honor-winning children’s book — to life. Ananse, the clever spider of African folklore, wants into Granny Anika’s garden so they can get some veggies. How do they try to trick Granny? By trying to get her to dance away from her beloved garden. Tiny problem though: while tricking Granny, Ananse finds himself drawn to the dance as well. Who will get to keep the vegetables?

prime spot to have, and likes to be alone. Any time she’s gotten a roommate during her time there, she has found a way to make them want to leave. Enter her new roommate, Marilyn, who is the exact opposite of the private and grumpy Abby. What happens next is a war of one-upmanship that starts as a harmless bet but quickly shows Abby may have finally found a worthy opponent. Secrets of both women are also spilled.

MUSKEGON CIVIC THEATRE

425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon muskegoncivictheatre.org, (231) 722-3852

WOMEN OF LOCKERBIE, Through March 2, $22

NEW VIC THEATRE

134 E. Vine St., Kalamazoo thenewvictheatre.org, (269) 381-3328

JEWISH THEATRE GRAND RAPIDS

JOHN & ABIGAIL, Through March 9, $25

2727 Michigan NE, Grand Rapids jtgr.org, (616) 234-3595

GASLIGHT, March 29-April 20, $25

BAD JEWS, Through March 10, $25

MILLER AUDITORIUM

WHARTON CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS

2200 Auditorium Dr., Kalamazoo millerauditorium.com, (269) 387-2300

750 E. Shaw Ln., East Lansing whartoncenter.com, (517) 353-1982

BEAUTIFUL, March 19-24, $38+

MISS SAIGON, March 12-17, $43+

Coincidentally, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman popped up on Spotify when I started writing this, which just goes to show Carole King’s huge reach. Beautiful is all about King and her journey, from songwriting with her husband Gerry Goffin to her relationships with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, not to mention her becoming one of the most successful solo arts in music history. Of course, it is filled with so many of her hits, like So Far Away, You’ve Got a Friend, and I Feel the Earth Move.

From the men behind Les Misérables comes this legendary musical with some pretty epic scenes that involve a helicopter. Set in 1975 during the last days of the Vietnam War, Miss Saigon tells the love story between Kim, a young Vietnamese woman, and American GI Chris. After the country falls apart, the duo is separated, which is troublesome for many reasons, including she’s pregnant with his kid and Chris doesn’t know. Will they find each other again? Go see it and let us know.

TONY N’ TINA’S WEDDING, March 22-April 7, $47

GRAND RAPIDS CIVIC THEATRE 30 N. Division Ave., Grand Rapids grct.org, (616) 222-6650

MAMMA MIA!, Through March 17, $22+

KALAMAZOO’S CIVIC THEATRE 329 S. Park St., Kalamazoo kazoocivic.com, (269) 343-1313

ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, Through March 10, $25

MADAGASCAR JR, March 8-15, $10 RIPCORD, March 22-31, $10 As part of their Carver Center Studio Series — and in its Southwest Michigan premiere — is David Lindsay-Abaire’s Ripcord. The comedy follows two elderly women, Abby and Marilyn, at the Briston Place Senior Living Facility. Abby lives on the upper floor of the facility, a

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THE PEOPLE ISSUE ...

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very community has its fascinating people making a difference. They’re not always in the spotlight, but they leave a mark on everyone they meet. They’re the ones with incredible stories born from years of their own adversity or from working with other fascinating people, or both.

They may not seek it out, but they’re the ones with stories worth telling, and we want to do just that. In our first ever People Issue, we aim to give some credit to those who elevate others. We talked to business owners, artists, festival organizers, activists, advocates, and allies to get an idea of what goes on

behind the scenes to make West Michigan what it is. It’s impossible to really capture the intricacies of so many captivating life stories in just a few pages, but you’ll learn about what makes our region tick, and more importantly, who makes it tick.

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Newly Engaged?

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CONSIDER A WEDDING RECEPTION AT THE DOUBLETREE Our All-Inclusive Reception packages include food, cocktails, set up and décor Call 616-957-0100 and ask for Karisa. grandrapidsairport.doubletree.com 4747 28th St SE, Grand Rapids


THE PEOPLE ISSUE

Brandy Arnold. Courtesy Photo

How else is your job allowing you to get connected? We have a contract with the city for Housing Now. We have a contract with Grand Rapids Public Schools; as they reached the second phase of their transformation plan, they wanted to hear about what’s working, what’s not working, so we helped facilitate those sessions. We worked with the Grand Rapids Community Foundation as they bring forward their new framework they’re using for grant-making. It’s this large engagement initiative that we did to engage stakeholders to get viewpoints on grants in their community and how they’re made.

So it’s all about directly engaging with the community?

BRANDY ARNOLD Conversing with the city by Josh Veal

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t’s hard to keep track of how many ways Brandy Arnold is involved with making Grand Rapids a better place. She’s the new program manager at West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology, but also on the advisory council for the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, the board of Spoke Folks, the planning committee of Grand Rapids Neighborhood Summit, and the evaluation committee of Kids’ Food Basket, as well as an all-around local volunteer. Try to keep up. Of course, she didn’t start out so plugged in. Arnold grew up in the tiny town of Free Soil before attending Grand Valley State University for communications and African American studies. Last year, she started at WMCAT thanks to her work as a “community catalyst,” a group of diverse community leaders using design thinking to address social problems. She also leads Step Year, which helps recent high school graduates find opportunities and create a plan, which Arnold says she

could’ve used. But now, she’s worked her way to a platform and is using it to facilitate conversations around the city.

What drives you to be so involved? I think one of the things is that a lot of my friends do similar work and care about the same things, so even when we’re not on the clock, we’re involved in something because it’s a personal passion. For me, it’s the personal experience of being a person of color in this community, with some of the experiences I’ve had, and then seeing the racial disparities that Grand Rapids has and feeling like, ‘That’s me. Those are my people.’ So not only is it a professional aspiration, but it’s also something I’m personally interested in. That’s when you tend to want to get involved in things, whether it’s because you had to do it for your job or if it’s on a Saturday, because you’re personally very passionate about it.

When you talk to a lot of people, they’d say they are engaging the community, but it’s really about doing it an authentic and equitable way. Who are they talking to? Who are the voices they’re missing? Who are the voices they’re actively repressing? The focus is really about elevating all of those voices and doing our due diligence to make sure people are at the table and they have their voices heard. They might be doing it, but it might just be a quick survey they send out and it’s online only and not translated into any other languages. If you do that, you can check off the box, but have you really got the full scope of the community?

Do you feel hope and/or concerns about where things are going? I’d say Grand Rapids is a very unique community in that there’s a lot of intentionality and energy behind making our city more equitable. However, I think there’s something that still needs to give that’s keeping us from really making big changes.

What’s holding us back? I think there’s just this reluctance from people in power to give up a little bit of that power or share and make the changes that need to happen. It does feel like a slog through the mud sometimes, because it seems like everyone is doing so much work, but then you look at the data and it feels like things aren’t changing or they are in very small increments. So, sometimes that can be frustrating, but I do think there’s power in small wins.

If you could request something from our readers, what would you say? I greatly understand the value and privilege I have to have the platform that I speak from. I think one of the things we need is to have people really walk their talk. I feel like there are a lot of conversations around what we need to do in our community, but when it comes to you as an individual or as an employer, are you willing to make those changes in your home or your place of business? I don’t always see that happening. That was one of the things that drew me to WMCAT, is they were willing to have these hard conversations. I wish we all could start doing that a little more, and start to show up for each other a little more. So, how do we all start to see our struggles and successes as linked together and start to walk our talk? n Read an extended version of the conversation online at revuewm.com.

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THE PEOPLE ISSUE Erica Lang. Photo By Katy Batdorff

Do you do any work for people on the margins? Opening Outside Coffee Co. has been a great way to celebrate the community, especially minorities and the LGBTQ community. Last year we partnered with The Diatribe, a local nonprofit organization specializing in teaching poetry and spoken word. Their Summer Showcase event took place in our garden and shone a spotlight on a very diverse and talented group of students who performed their poetry live to the crowd. It was a beautiful experience. I love seeing people gather in that way in our space, to celebrate each other. As LGBTQ business owners, we aim to provide an open, welcoming and safe space for all. Keep your ears open for a Pride event this June!

Let’s talk about your commitment to environmental causes and some of the things you’ve done there. Back in 2016, I created a piece, Shut Down Line 5, during ArtPrize. I teamed up with my friend Stephanie Mabie, who founded Kent County Water Conservation, to spread the word on the issue. It was my first activist piece and it taught me a lot. We were able to educate people on the issue and add quite a few petition signatures. A portion of the funds raised went to KCWC to help fund their ongoing work with water issues.

What are some local causes where you lend your support or feel most called to join and contribute?

ERICA LANG An outfitter that fits right in by Missy Black

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rica Lang’s motives are clear: Everyone knows what it feels like to be left out. She wants to cultivate the exact opposite. Years ago, Lang founded Woosah Outfitters, an art and clothing store specializing in handcrafted woodcut prints. It became so successful, she relocated the business to Wealthy Street and used a grassroots approach to bring the community together around revitalizing the corner with the shop, creating a lot of buzz. It didn’t hurt that she also opened Outside Coffee Co. with her fiance, Kelly McPhee. Now, Lang wants to use her businesses to make a difference.

Let’s look at your journey from when you started Woosah to where you are now. Looking back, it’s unreal. I can’t fully grasp how far we’ve come, especially because I’m always setting new goals for the future.

I think there’s a few lessons. First, always listen to your gut/your intuition, especially when it scares you. Second, if you want something bad enough, and you’re willing to put in the work, you can manifest it. The universe totally listens to what you ask of it. I know it’s corny, but it’s true. Third, don’t get stuck in your ‘little mind.’ Instead, zoom out and view the whole picture. It’s easy to focus on the issues, tasks and challenges of the moment and lose sight of the big goal. It’s OK to get off track. Just notice it and hop back on the path.

Where have you had your art featured that you’re proud of? Every opportunity to work with a company or brand that I believe in and align with feels surreal. To name a few of my favorites, Merrell, New Belgium Brewing, Harmony Brewing and Mountain Film Fest with Saugatuck Center for the Arts (happening this March).

We threw a party called Stoked to Vote last spring to get people registered to vote. I realized that I can contribute by making voting accessible and by making it fun. We also teamed up with Urban Roots, and they help us minimize our footprint by composting our waste from Outside Coffee Co. We hosted them in the garden to teach others about composting and the work they do for the community.

Why did you choose the Wealthy community? Woosah’s foundation was built on Division. That space allowed me to see my vision come to life and for our community to gather but we soon outgrew it and I started dreaming a bit larger. We set out to find a new location that could include space for a coffee shop. We instantly fell in love with the green space attached to the Wealthy building. Once I toured the space, everything aligned. I love the energy over here in Uptown. The opportunities on Wealthy Street feel abundant.

What does success mean to you? In one word: balance. Until recently, I always thought success would be making a living off doing what I love, period. The older I get, the more I see success through a wider lens. Sure, it’s an amazing success to make a living by doing what you love, but success also means having balance, boundaries and mindfulness.

Your love of nature is inspiring. Tell us how to be a good creature in this world. Oh man, I’m just out here trying to be a good creature myself. Some ways I practice are by approaching things with love, being open-minded, practicing patience — that one is a challenge for me — mindfulness, gratitude and taking care of myself. Most importantly, just don’t be a jerk! n

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THE PEOPLE ISSUE Eleanor Moreno. Courtesy Photo

How did that first job transition go? For three months, I did both. I would sleep about four hours, wake up at nine at night. I didn’t have a car, so I would walk to the potato chip factory, which was like a 20 minute walk, then walk back home afterwards, go to the office and do like a nine to five. I had to make sure that it was the right thing. I’m super fortunate that it was.

How did you end up affecting SECOM in your own way? All these things started falling in place and we were able to bring in someone through Michigan Works, and that gave me time to just (say), ‘Alright, I just need to listen to people.’ I spent about a year sitting in my lobby just talking to people and building this relationship and asking the old question of like, ‘If I had a million dollars or if we had all the money in the world, what would you want to see?’ And people were talking about just the coolest things about growing food and selling food at low cost. Through that listening and through some support from Calvin, we were able to analyze some of this qualitative data and show that people wanted to garden and people wanted to sell produce. So, that model that got created out of that listening is now modeled across five other sites in Kent County.

The way things are going, does it give you some hope or is there a lot of work to be done?

ELEANOR MORENO Talking, listening, doing by Josh Veal

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rankly, Eleanor Moreno’s story is colorful and eventful enough to be its own book, not just a magazine article. Organizer, activist, consultant, translator — Moreno can best be described as “heavily involved.” She’s the chair of the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Partner Committee, project manager at Kids’ Food Basket, director of community engagement at Other Way Ministries, and cofounder of CO2 Storytelling, which gives a platform to “real people” to tell their story. It all began when she was a child, starting in Chicago before moving to Grand Rapids, raised by a single mother who often relied on community services to take care of her four children. The family was “transient,” moving 27 times by the time Moreno was 25.

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Now, she has her hand in many of those community services, especially in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood. The path there was anything but cut and dry, however. Moreno initially opted out of college, instead spending nearly every day at the local library. A librarian took notice and ended up paying for Moreno’s first semester of school at Calvin College. At the end of college, her mother became sick, so Moreno took the first job she could find, working third shift at a potato chip factory. Again, she was offered help, this time from a woman at Cook Arts Center who submitted her resume to SECOM Resource Center, beginning Moreno’s life in the world of nonprofits.

It’s definitely both/and. I see a lot of the bright spots of hope that people are going to listen to community. On the opposite end, there’s the power holders or the executive directors, or the managers or the store owners who are like, ‘Oh, well, do you represent all of community? Who are you to say? Are you sure that’s what people want?’ So, how do we change the stigma even of myself or the other co-chairs coming in and saying, ‘No, the community really wants this. And it’s not just our voice, it’s the voices of everyone else in this partnership and it’s the voice of even our neighbors.’ People don’t feel like they have power anymore.

What do you love about the Roosevelt Park neighborhood? I think of the things that really make me smile. Like that neighborhood has the best avocado milkshake, the best. It’s not yogurt, it’s milk and actual avocados. And they use cane sugar. It’s just the best. That neighborhood is so unique. There’s 13 types of tacos in the summer. If you walk or drive down the main street, you hear these parrots and you know whose house it is, because they’re super loud. Or even thinking of unique people who live in that neighborhood, like one of the ladies two blocks from me who makes salsa from the community garden and she just hands it out to everyone, because she had too many tomatoes and jalapenos. Or Zeke, the animal rescuer who always is saving cats and dogs, or takes them to get neutered. Or Charlie, who will come help shovel your snow for you or mow your lawn and doesn’t want anything from it.

Do you have any kind of specific goals in the time ahead? Yeah. I always say I try to kick myself out of a job, and I don’t like being the center of attention. … I always think that I can move on to something else, but first how do I show the young Eleanor that you don’t have to work in the factory anymore? You can go do something cooler and be somewhere else impacting in a different way that we would’ve never thought of. For an extended version of this interview, visit revuewm.com. n


THE PEOPLE ISSUE

JACK WOLLER Leading from behind the scenes by Josh Veal

Jack Woller. Photo by Terry Johnston

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s a secular humanist, Jack Woller never saw himself working for a church, much less serving as the executive director. But after life in the world of sports retail left him feeling unfulfilled, Woller went on a journey that ultimately led to Fountain Street Church, volunteering in the community and working at Grand Rapids Children’s Museum along the way. More than anything, Woller doesn’t actually want to be in the spotlight, seeking instead to use his position and connections to work toward social justice and amplify “the right voices.” It’s a philosophy Fountain Street shares, acting as a support system for organizers, students and foreign workers without taking control. The church is atypical to say the least, accepting people of all belief systems and acting as a community asset and theaterstyle venue since the day the facility was built nearly a century ago. Going forward, Woller just hopes to keep helping the community out.

What led you to want to pursue the social justice cause?

What’s your goal for yourself and your organization?

I don’t have as much time to snowboard anymore. I’m 6’4”, so physics is not on my side and as I’m getting older, my body isn’t working so much anymore. For me, I’d really say the driving thing has been art. That was the original career path, industrial design at Kendall, but then the joke I usually make is I wanted to be employable, so I got a business degree. But that’s still a big part of my life. I’m thankfully a selectively working artist who accepts commissions and usually how that manifests is I do pieces and donate them to nonprofits who have auctions and to Artists Creating Together. And just recently, I launched my new website that serves to facilitate Commissions for a Cause.

My personal goal for myself is to assist the organization in this really pivotal time. Our senior minister is retiring in early 2020. Whether it’s nonprofit or religion and spirituality, the sectors in which we operate have rapidly changed and will continue to. So, my role and goals are to help this organization, which I think of as an essential institution in West Michigan, celebrate its past 150 years and figure out what the next 150 look like. One of the things that I think is beautiful about the organization is that it exists to support all people regardless of belief systems. The church really is a pluralist organization that has been designed literally to be a community asset.

I’d like to be able to point to some sort of watershed moment or something. I say pretty regularly that my life is a case study in unearned privilege. ... One of the most helpful things for me on this path, and what I’d hope for a lot more privileged individuals, is popping the homogenous bubble that many live in. When we’re actually able to not live in just that bubble, not only do we tend to be more empathetic and compassionate, but none of this work is a zero-sum game. As I’ve intentionally tried to go down this path, it constantly benefits me in that my life is better for it. By engaging and broadening and popping the bubble, my life is richer; the people that I know, the skills, the cultural competency and literacy.

Rapids Community Foundation in support of the Our LGBT Fund and the Challenge Scholars program. Art has always been one of my decompression and self-care practices, but it’s also another way for me to contribute to the

community. Also, I started drawing on napkins for my kids’ lunches, and I do two of those every night. It’s been a big part of not only my connection to my kids but my self-care practices and self expression. n

You said you’re interested in sports. What hobbies/interests do you have?

How does that work? Whenever I take on a commission, I donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the Grand

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THE PEOPLE ISSUE

JENNY KINNE

From part-time employee to store owner by Kelly Brown Jenny Kinne. Courtesy Photo

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enny Kinne, the new owner of Cherry Street’s beloved independent bookstore Books & Mortar, started her career selling books out of her parents’ basement and exchanging her favorite paperbacks for Monopoly money. A series of professional adventures, mostly focused on nonprofit development and public policy, led her to Fountain Street Church, Planned Parenthood, Michigan League for Public Policy and eventually life as a business owner. Her love for public policy and community activism is what eventually sparked her passion for owning a progressive, independent bookstore.

What is it like being a woman-owned business?

How did you end up working at the store?

What type of public policy are you most passionate about?

I sought out Books & Mortar the moment it opened because I had been craving an indie, progressive bookstore. I needed that in Grand Rapids; a space dedicated to inclusivity, learning and creativity. I began working when my friends (and the store’s founders), Christopher and Jonathan, posted a need for part-time help. I answered the call on gut instinct. I was pursuing a graduate degree and I did not have time for a part-time gig. But something called out to me and I needed to try it.

And how did that evolve into owning the place? Books & Mortar is such a free space. I have learned about customers’ dreams, fears, goals and thoughts more than I ever expected to. When Jonathan and Christopher brought up that they were maybe going to sell the store, I had an automatic and visceral reaction. It was very tough for me to leave my job in public policy advocacy, but I just couldn’t let this chance go.

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So far, it’s great! There are a lot of supports that have been intentionally constructed in the indie bookstore world for female-identifying owners. The industry is no longer male-dominated, so I have met many female owners who have offered mentorship, which I think is key to any woman’s professional success. I know that I need many advocates in my corner if I want to succeed in this job or any other. I also think it is my job to support and advocate for women who are reaching for their own dreams.

I’ve been passionate about public policy for as long as I can remember. I studied U.S foreign policy in college. After, I trained as a grassroots activist with Planned Parenthood. Learning how to be an advocate for PP in West Michigan is a sure-fire way to develop some thick skin. Learning about national and state health policy at the same time as the Affordable Care Act roll-out was joyous and exhausting. I will forever be an advocate for universal, affordable health care, sex education and coverage of women’s health care and abortion rights.

How do you incorporate that advocacy into the store? When you walk into Books & Mortar, I hope it’s evident that a community activist works there. The books I stock reflect my values. I am passionate about women’s, LGBTQ-plus and immigrant rights, as well as environmental protection. Consequently, I stock a lot of

Books & Mortar. COURTESY PHOTO books on those issues. Since Books & Mortar is an openly progressive bookstore, I hope to keep building upon its mission to become a meeting place for community activists.

How do you hope to inspire change in West Michigan through your work? I believe that books can change the world. They have certainly changed mine. I can’t imagine life having not read writers like W.E.B. Du Bois, Maya Angelou, Barbara Kingsolver, Toni Morrison, and I could go on and on. These people’s experiences and voices have been put down on paper. Books have an amazing power to shift paradigms and break down prejudice and bookstores have the power to harness that energy into community growth. At the end of the day, I want to create positive change through reading and creating. I hope to do my part to make Grand Rapids more equitable, just and kind by building a bookstore that welcomes everyone, embraces creativity and inspires authentic and rigorous political discussion. n


THE PEOPLE ISSUE

Josh Bochniak. Photo by Steven Herppich Photography

When did you start rock climbing and why? I started climbing when I was in college. For me, I think what I loved so much about it at first was that it really engaged me physically and mentally. In climbing, there’s the physical challenge of getting yourself up a climbing wall, but integrated in that is the mental challenge of learning techniques, and how to optimize your body, and use efficiency and movement — all those sorts of things. It really was an activity that worked with my engineer brain.

Why is outdoor education important?

JOSH BOCHNIAK Elevating others with nature and community by Michaela Stock

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had this moment, in New Mexico, where I was sitting on the edge of a cliff, looking out over this canyon, and I thought, ‘I want people to see this. And I can maybe be the person that helps people see this kind of thing.’” Native to Illinois but no stranger to West Michigan, Hope College mechanical engineering alumnus Josh Bochniak is an outdoor educator, naturalist and coffee connoisseur with a master’s degree in outdoor and environmental education from SUNY Cortland University. Bochniak recently opened his own bouldering gym in Holland called Scrapyard Climbing Collective, where he took a previous gym and then reconstructed its walls from the ground up in hopes of broadening the borders of his community through rock climbing.

I see the outdoors as a catalyst for relationship building. We form relationships, and stronger relationships, outdoors because we’re not distracted by our phones or emails or whatever else.

You’ve also worked in the coffee industry for years as a barista at Lemonjello’s Coffee in Holland. How does your love of coffee and the outdoors intersect? Coffee is this weird combination of science and art. So the sciencey part of my brain really latches on to trying to find different methods for brewing, and all of those sorts of things. Coffee shops end up having this community building perspective. Community — like bringing people together, drawing people together, and helping people find belonging, meaning and connection — is a really strong value in what I do. And then helping to provide experiences for personal and group development is another good part of what I do, or what I strive to do. So you put those things together, and begin to see some of the main values in the way that I see my life and work.

What made you decide to begin Scrapyard Climbing Collective? I worked at a summer camp and ran the rock climbing programs there, and I started to see how climbing is not only this physical, mental challenge, but also has the ability to help people work through fears and trust and issues of resilience, bouncing back and pushing through things that they didn’t think they could do before. I started to see climbing as this way of helping people develop, because if it’s transformational for me, I think it has to be for others.

How have you worked through the challenges you’ve faced while building Scrapyard Climbing Collective? I’m a learner. I love the learning process, and I’m not afraid of it. Rather than looking at a challenge and seeing it as something insurmountable, usually I see something and I’m like, ‘I think I can learn how to do that.’ And since I enjoy the learning process, it’s actually kind of exhilarating to learn how to do something.

What makes Scrapyard Climbing Collective different from other climbing gyms? Typically, climbing gyms have been popular for 18 through 35 year olds and serve a population with means. It doesn’t tend to serve minority populations, and there are socioeconomic barriers that a lot of climbing gyms don’t serve and don’t seek to serve. What I’m seeking to do is provide opportunities for kids and adults to have meaningful experiences on the climbing wall that allow them to build resilience and allow them to break through and come up against something that’s hard to do and actually have to work through it, and then see the reward for doing it.

How are you doing this? We did a campaign, and people donated climbing memberships. So I have about 50 monthly memberships to give to students, specifically high school students in Holland who typically wouldn’t be able to afford to come to the climbing gym.

What is your hope for Scrapyard and the West Michigan community? My hope for our community as a whole, I think, has to do very much with an identification, an embracing of the value of the rich diversity of our community. I think the call to action is broaden your circle. That means broadening your circle across racial, socioeconomic and ethnic boundaries, but it also just means broadening it beyond the group of people that you grew up with. Ultimately, that’s what I want to happen with Scrapyard. I want Scrapyard to represent the diversity of people in the city of Holland and in West Michigan. n

Spring into Anna’s Spring features arrive March 5th

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COMING NEXT MONTH: WEST MICHIGAN DINING GUIDE

Old school burger joint located in downtown Rockford. Great for dining in or taking to go!

Year by year, West Michiganâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s food scene continues to grow. In this issue, we explore the top locally owned destinations for five-course meals, cheap eats and everything in between.

(616) 884-3166 51 E. Bridge Street, Rockford, MI 49341

TO ADVERTISE: Call (616) 608-6170 or email sales@revuewm.com.

CELEBRATE MARCH MADNESS! Visit the Wyoming and Hudsonville locations for $2 domestic pints during all basketball games! Also, save $1 off crafts!

LOCATIONS

Three Locations: Pick up or Dine in WYOMING 2359 Health Dr. Suite 120 Grand Rapids (616) 228-8855

PLAINFIELD 3916 Plainfield Ave. NE Grand Rapids (616) 608-3067

HUDSONVILLE (New Location!) 3424 Chicago Dr. # 102, Hudsonville (616) 379-4114

wingdoozy.com | facebook.com/WingDoozy

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THE PEOPLE ISSUE

ACE MARASIGAN Building and building with friends and family by Josh Veal

Ace Marasigan with his wife Jackie and son Redd. Courtesy Photo

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hen Ace Marasigan moved here from the Philippines at age 16, he brought some of home with him, but even more so when he founded the Grand Rapids Asian-Pacific Festival. Coming up on its third year, the festival is the first of its kind in the city and was a huge success from the start, even bringing in professional sumo wrestlers last year. It’s a unique celebration of the entire community. But while Marasigan works hard on the festival, he said it couldn’t be done without his family, friends and business partners. In fact, his entire story revolves around them — he came up with the idea with his wife and partially created the festival to better his son’s future here. In his free time, he sings, dances and just hangs out with both of them. Marasigan also cares deeply about his community and finds ways to rally support around others in need. Case in point: During the 35-day federal government shutdown, Marasigan leveraged his long list of contacts to gather donations to buy pizzas and gift cards to local restaurants and grocery stores for the unpaid TSA agents working at Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Along the way, his actions inspired dozens of other people to take similar measures to help out their neighbors left without a paycheck for weeks. Pay it forward, indeed. That’s one of many examples of how Marasigan, who works as a banking center manager at Old National Bank in downtown Grand Rapids, seeks to “deliver something good for the community.”

Can you talk about how you went about creating the festival and making it happen? I had to ask many, many people to help me. Even though I’m being credited for it, without

everyone involved, even all the associations saying, ‘This is a great idea,’ it would not happen. I would just say the passion was there. Maybe people felt the passion that we had to create something like this, and everybody identified with what we’re trying to do. It was not just like Asians saying, ‘Alright, this is really a ripe time.’ We also saw non-Asians saying, ‘You guys are doing something that’s amazing. This is something that the Grand Rapids community really deserves and could really use.’ With that notion, we just went full-force. I could not look back. I just kept pushing and pushing, and for the end result, we just said, ‘Whatever’s going to happen will happen.’

What’s the goal of the festival as a whole? The main goal is to celebrate the Asian-Pacific community and culture, but really to invite all of Grand Rapids to come out and just celebrate,

and get to know one another. Hopefully we could strive to learn and maybe in the future collaborate more, and celebrate the differences and push each other to have better understanding. n

MUSIC COMEDY CHAOS

How did it turn out? The first festival in 2017, I was in tears. At 10:45 a.m., we’re not supposed to start until 11, there’s tons of people, just everywhere people waiting for this to happen. I was in tears, man. I saw the love of the community and community is something big for us. This is where our son’s going to grow up. We want to see a place where he is celebrated and I want him to see people that look like him celebrated in the community as well.

Are there any parts of the festival that you're especially excited about this year? Actually, I’m more excited for the stuff that’s involved before the festival. We have a whole Asian week happening this year and we are creating different days where we can educate the community. We’re doing like an immersion where we have a Hmong Day. We’re planning to do Korean immersion. So, besides the festival, we want to be able to highlight and really help the community understand certain cultures. I think I’m more excited about that.

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THE PEOPLE ISSUE

KIM COLLINS Brewing up a lasting impact By Danata Paulino

Kim Collins. Courtesy Photo

A

lthough her journey did not begin in the state, Kim Collins found a place to call home here in West Michigan. Taking the parts of her life she loved, she turned them into passions and followed through on making her dream job a reality. Collins is the founder of Guardian Brewing Company in Saugatuck, and one of the few woman brewers in the industry. Although Guardian has only been open since 2018, Collins has been ambitious and driven to make it a real part of the community. Complimenting how kind and supportive the community has been, she strives to return the neighborly love, while canoeing, hiking and camping in her spare time.

the next step in my career, not quite sure what I wanted to do next. I thought, ‘Well, I love craft beer, and the industry is amazing, and the people are awesome. So why not trying being a brewer?’

You’re not native to Saugatuck. What drew you here?

What do you see on the horizon for you and your company?

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and the Indiana national lakeshore, depending on which parent and which time of the year. When I was very young, we used to travel up here by boat and put our boat up in Holland and stop into Saugatuck. It was one of the few towns that actually had restaurants and bars on the water. I’ve lived in most of the other Midwestern states and just found Michigan to have more outdoorsy things to do and a strong beer culture. Saugatuck was the perfect combination of all those things, including arts and culture, but not being in the city.

Right now, we are interested in sinking into our 12,000-square-foot building, so we’ve only built out about 8,000 square feet of it. We want to first open a really nice patio for the summertime and build two yurts on the property so people can stay overnight and then from there we have a lot of phases. We own 23 acres across the street, so we’re picturing trails and recreation spaces. Maybe we’ll be able to put in a little brew hut, some taps over there. Anywhere we can mix our recreation with the brewery, really being a part of the community is the best part.

How did your journey bring you to Guardian Brewing Company? My partner Kate and I — when she was working on her Ph.D. and I had just finished my master’s at Indiana State University — we were both studying outdoor recreation, hospitality and tourism. But we are both homebrewers. I was looking for

Where did you begin professional brewing?

way Guardian is something that can persist well beyond our lifetime. So my driving passion is creating something that outlasts time and fills the needs that the community has and kind of morphs and changes over time to be what it needs to be.

Do you have a favorite kind of beer? I am a certified cicerone. So I love all kinds of beer, different beer with different meals, different beers at different times of the day and seasons. I would say that my favorite kind of beer, generally speaking, is coffee beer or barrel-aged beer. n

We figured Colorado was the perfect place for me to learn to brew professionally, because I didn’t want to start brewing without having professional experience. It’s just really different than homebrewing. She said to me, ‘You’ve got five years to figure out if this is what you want to do and open your own brewery,’ and I did it in six. I brewed for five breweries out there and gained a lot of practical knowledge and also went to school for different educational portions.

What is the driving force that pushes your success? The passion for creating something unique but long-lasting. I want to create something that lasts beyond us. I don’t have children and I don’t plan to, so it’s not like I can pass this off to my own kids in the future. So eventually we want to make this an employee-owned business; that

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THE PEOPLE ISSUE Sofía Ramírez Hernández. Courtesy Photo

her Sofia Draws Everyday project. She later exhibited the massive daily discipline of more than 1,000 drawings as part of ArtPrize in 2017, while working as an art instructor and illustrator. Now working with Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities, and serving as the program manager for the Cook Library Center, she continues to take the incremental steps toward realizing her visions for a better world.

What does it mean to you to have your role at Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities? I really don’t say it lightly, but I feel like when (Cook Arts Center Director) Steffanie (Rosalez) gave me this opportunity, to be in this job, to be in this role, to be in this community, essentially it saved me. I was feeling very helpless, very unseen, like I didn’t fit in, and there was no place for me here. I was just expecting it to be painful to stay here. I feel very honored to be accepted into this community, the Roosevelt Park and Black Hills Neighborhood and into these families. They remind me of my family, and they have stories so similar, and stories so different as well.

For you, how much do art and activism go hand in hand?

SOFÍA RAMÍREZ HERNÁNDEZ Great feats with small steps by Eric Mitts

A

n artist, educator and organizer, Sofía Ramírez Hernández shares her story through her work so that others won’t have to struggle the way she did. Hers is a story of immigration, identity definition and institutionalized discrimination. Yet hers is also a story of inspiration and incremental change. Born in Mexico City, Ramírez Hernández immigrated to eastern Michigan with

her family back in 1995. Not even five years old, she found herself in her first snowstorm in a cold and unfamiliar country. But from a young age, she displayed an aptitude for drawing, using it as another form of communication. She first arrived in Grand Rapids to attend Kendall College of Art and Design. Struggling to find her place in the Grand Rapids community as an LGBTQ woman of color, she created

I struggle to call myself an activist. For example, I believe in abolition, but I’m not going to call myself an abolitionist, because I believe that those are the people that do more direct action. I’m not breaking people out of prisons, or destroying a lot of these systems single-handedly, but I do carry a lot of these beliefs in how I talk to my kids (in class). I talk about radical love, or radical acceptance, of not questioning someone’s identity, of saying that no one deserves to be abused, or isolated, or locked up, or policed. So I would say that I have a soft way of sharing my politics every day so that I don’t burn myself out. … Part of radical politics is that you need to be constantly dreaming of a better world. It’s actually a very positive thing to be dissatisfied. It just means envisioning a better world.

In the time that you’ve been in Grand Rapids, how much of that change have you seen? I see the conversations being brought up a lot more. Seeing it on the ground, from a more personal viewpoint, this is very anecdotal, but I have a friend group right now that is people of color. We are non-men, with some gendernonconforming people and women in our group, and we are all people of color and we are all queer. There’s just handfuls of us, but we all felt like we were very dispersed throughout the city and dispersed throughout friend groups. … So I want to say maybe two years ago we started to find each other and link up a little bit more, and it has completely changed my outlook on what it’s like to live in Grand Rapids. So I have been seeing

Self Portrait. Courtesy Photo

that a little bit more, people speaking out to maybe their more stubborn or bigoted friends who don’t want to learn, and seeing more people of color, more women drawing boundaries for themselves.

You’re also a marathon runner. Why do you think you’ve become so passionate about running? It wasn’t until college, where, for the same reason that I started my drawing project, (I started running) because I felt a lot of anxiety and depression having a lot of control over me. I wanted to feel like I could control it. I’m also fascinated by numbers and graph paper. It’s why I date all my drawings. I like knowing what day I’m on. So, with running, I like seeing those increases as well. Let’s just say I ran half a mile. And then the next day I ran .6 miles, and then .7. It was the same with the drawing, you see it surely increasing. Even though it’s in such tiny increments, you’re tacking onto such a large body that you can’t help but be impressed with yourself and your capabilities. … Sharing it is so powerful as well. I do have a dream of making a triathlon for kids of color. There’s a lot of gatekeeping in those sports because of how expensive they can be made. … But I want to be a part of a movement to make triathlon and ultra-running much more accessible for all kids of color. That’s my vision. Follow Sofía Ramírez Hernández on Instagram @sofiadrawseveryday. For an extended version of this interview, visit revuewm.com. n

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By Josh Veal

DINING

EVERY DAY HAS ITS DOG Where to satisfy your hot dog cravings without lowering standards

F

or whatever reason, the creators of Sonic the Hedgehog decided his favorite food of all time would be chili dogs. He seemed to subsist on nothing but the stuff, which I have to blame for my young self’s constant craving for hot dogs. Strangely, watching Popeye eat spinach didn’t have quite the same effect. I’d be lying if I said that constant craving ever subsided. Even writing this now, I’m thinking about the magical combination of fluffy bun, savory meat and whatever toppings my heart desires. I know I’m not the only one, because hot dog joints abound in West Michigan.

It’s a bit odd — how often do we decide to make a meal of, as Ilana Glazer in Broad City puts it, “a bunch of hot dogs?” I attribute the affordable feast’s success to two factors. First: When the craving hits, you’re going to get that hot dog. There’s nothing stopping you. Second: No matter where you are or what you’re doing, a hot dog is the perfect quick fix for hunger. You can typically get in, eat and get out in 15 minutes. That all being said, not everyone knows where to head for the best dogs around. It’s hard to pick, but here are a few spots where you can’t go wrong. One note: Many places on this list offer veggie/vegan dogs as well.

Blue Dog with Poutine Tater Tots from Blue Dog Tavern. COURTESY PHOTO

BLUE DOG TAVERN

DINING SIGHTS | SOUNDS | SCENE

638 Stocking Ave. NW, Grand Rapids bluedogtaverngr.com If you love dogs of all kinds, Blue Dog is the place to be. The TV is often looping pictures of furry friends, while you knock back some craft beer and wait for your own dogs to come out. These are no ordinary hot dogs, either — Blue Dogs are just a little bit heartier, especially the Butch, which is wrapped in bacon, deepfried and topped with stone ground mustard and onions. They’re hot dogs that make you feel like you’re eating a real meal, and with some style at that. It doesn’t hurt to pair them with one of the tavern’s many loaded tots.

RAY RAY’S ITALIAN BEEF & SAUSAGE 1715 Miller Rd., Kalamazoo restaurantsnapshot.com/RayRaysItalian

Let’s just get this out of the way: We’re talking hot dogs here, and sausage is a whole different beast, in a very literal sense. As it turns out,

36 | REVUEWM.COM | MARCH 2019

Ray Ray does both excellently, specializing in the Chicago style. What does that mean? No ketchup, for one thing (and good riddance). Yellow mustard, onions, relish, pickle slices, tomato, sport peppers, cucumber and celery salt are the stars here — “dragged through the garden,” as they say. See, eating hot dogs can be healthy! Chicago style also means the little diner is decked out in Cubs and Bulls paraphernalia, if that’s your groove.

THE DOG PIT

132 Monroe Center Ave. NW, Grand Rapids thedogpitofgrandrapids.com I can’t help but feel The Dog Pit doesn’t always get its due. Having a shop that serves nothing but hot dogs and sides smack dab in the heart of downtown is bold and brilliant. The Dog Pit is as straightforward as it gets — you want a quality hot dog and you want it immediately. They deliver on both fronts. Plus, the meat options and toppings are everything you could ever ask for.

JONNY B’Z

701 Wealthy St., Grand Rapids jonnybz.com Jonny B’z greatest gift to us all is that it’s once again open until 3 a.m. on weekends. There’s no better way to head off a hangover than to stay up a little later, drink plenty of water and mow down a fourth meal. While it has plenty of other offerings, Jonny B’z founded its reputation on next-level hot dogs, cooked on a grill and served in a toasted bun. It’s that exact preparation that adds a complexity of textures missing from the usual boiled dog in a day-old bun presentation. The toppings are classic, just like Jonny’s atmosphere and attitude.

MAD DOGZ

3916 W. River Dr. NE, Comstock Park themad.dog Mad Dogz embraces the spirit of the hot dog and then some, serving up just about every

topping under the sun. You want bacon, French’s fried onions, lettuce, ranch dressing, sour cream and tomato? Of course — that’s the Yo-Yo. How about chili, corn chips, pickle and peanut butter? Sure thing, one Goofy coming right up! Of course, this isn’t some gimmick. The all-beef hot dogs are quality too, locally made and served with friendliness.

G&L CHILI DOGS Muskegon glchilidogs.com

When you have four locations in one city, you know you’re doing something right. With roots — including a secret Greek chili recipe — going back nearly 100 years, G&L has proved itself time and time again. It’s easy to see why. For one thing, the chili sauce is so special, it’s sold by the pound. And the hot dogs are cheap as all get out, averaging $2.50 each. Not to mention the bounty of toppings available, from sauerkraut to black olives and bacon. Basically: If it ain’t broke, eat it. n


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By Jack Raymond

DRINKING

NOT TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING The Drinker’s Manifesto is meeting alcohol in the middle

P

rohibition — “the noble experiment” — was a complete, counterintuitive failure. The hooch got dirtier, the crime messier, the consumption higher. Even Congress, the arbiters of such bogus legislation, had their own bootlegger, “The Man in the Green Hat,” who snuck whiskey, moonshine, Scotch and more to members of office. Surprise, it didn’t stick. Welcome to 2019, where we’re swishing Rumple Minze like it’s Listerine. Look around. There’s a brewery on every block — temptation encroaching. Clearly, our culture loves booze, but we remain divided on what we’re supposed to do with it: drink as much as you can or not a drop at all? Enter Better Drinking Culture and its CEO Jason Ley, ardently steering the conversation somewhere toward the center. Ley is the sort of guy I wish I’d had as a guidance counselor — earnest, sage, enthusiastic about life. He cuts through bullshit like butter, dropping nuggets of wisdom between banter. While Ley has made his fair share of mistakes, he owns up to them, and ultimately, strives to prevent others from committing the same ones. Case in point, The Drinker’s Manifesto, BDC’s new book he wrote to help those interested in revising their relationship with alcohol. Ahead of its release this month, Revue met with Ley — over a beer even — to learn more about how we can meet alcohol in the middle and make our lives all the better for it.

What does a better drinking culture look like to you? No one having to apologize for anything they did drunk. It all starts with our health. We are living in this vessel that has to get us from conception to death and it is not going to last that long if we waste it getting wasted. We firmly believe that if you choose to drink, you need to get your mind right and your heart right. The idea is simple, the execution isn’t. Every negative consequence associated with alcohol is associated with drinking too much of it. Culture is where the shift happens. This is where taking the awareness of drinking mindfully and the knowledge about how your body reacts to alcohol and where you’re out doing it. When you combine those, that’s where a better drinking culture happens.

What demographic do you believe needs this book the most? The next generation of drinkers. Four million is, on average, the number of people who turn 21 in the U.S. every year. The goal is to ultimately distribute 4 million copies of the book for free. For everyone who joins the Universal Mug Club, BDC earmarks a portion of the membership fee to buy back a copy of our book and gift it to a college student on their 21st birthday in the radius of where that membership was purchased.

How do we convince a generation of college students to not binge drink?

Jason Ley, CEO of Drinking Culture. COURTESY PHOTO

38 | REVUEWM.COM | MARCH 2019

When a 17 year old leaves to go to college, there’s no onboarding process for what the drinking scene looks like or what you’re supposed to expect. So you leave home, you move into your dorm and all of a sudden you’re upside down over a keg and you finish the night by doing as many shots as you can.

We’ve got to let them know that they’re worth more than a hangover the next day, worth more than everything they’re risking to party so their Instagram feed looks more crazy or glamorous. If BDC can be honest, transparent and vulnerable with the drinker, then we’d like to think that we’re creating a platform where they can start evaluating their relationship with alcohol without us judging them.

I think that BDC gains a lot of credibility by having so many allies within the industry. This book is particularly valuable to a city like Grand Rapids who is known as Beer City USA. If the reputation wants to be upheld and respected, then I think what comes with that is an equal respect for cultivating consumers and businesses who hold themselves to a higher standard. We can rally together and say this is not going to be a place you can come to and destroy just because you want to tackle as many breweries you can in a 24-hour period. Rather, we want to create a holistically better

experience for both those who live here and those who visit.

Many of us can identify with the baggage that follows a night of excessive drinking. It’s hard, but important to reckon with. How does the Manifesto avoid any preachiness? It gets a little dicey because no one wants to get called out. I think to certain degree we need to be put in check but we don’t want to be shamed. BDC is not anti-alcohol and we’re not the fun police. For some people, drinking alcohol is no longer an option and that’s because they’ve probably ruined their relationship with it. But what people really need to know is that while BDC may uncover the Band-aid on some sensitivity, no one should feel like a failure just because they failed on a night out drinking. For an extended version of this discussion, visit revuewm.com. n


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