Take a Class or Workshop!

Announcing Workshop Wednesdays >>>> Join us for fresh new events the third Wednesday of each month. Seats for each event are limited to be sure to register ASAP, summer events take place from 6-8pm at the Avenue for the Arts [Work] Space 307 South Division.


Workshop Wednesdays Summer 2017! Seats for each event are limited to be sure to register ASAP, summer events take place from 6-8pm at the Avenue for the Arts [Work] Space 307 South Division.

June 21st – Workshop Wednesdays: Make Your Own Zine! Zines are hand-made, self-published, booklets/informal magazines (hence, ‘zines!). Wonderfully versatile and highly distributable, it’s an art form that doesn’t require fancy materials or extensive training. Led by local artists and zine-enthusiasts Aude Shattuck and Ryan Wyrick, this hands-on workshop is designed to be accessible and beneficial to both newcomers and to veteran zine makers alike. This event is free and open to the public, but you must register to save your seat! 

July 19th – Workshop Wednesdays: Graphic Novel workshop! Award winning graphic novelist Kenny Porter and Detroit-based illustrator Jim Towe will lead an informative inside look into this ever-expanding artistic field. This panel is designed to benefit those involved in the comics business, those who want to create and publish, and those who don’t know how to get started. From publishing opportunities to building a following and breaking into the scene we will dig into the process and potential of graphic novels. Be sure to register to reserve your spot

July 26th – Workshop Wednesdays: Artist Residency Roundtable Join us for a roundtable discussion about applying to and fundraising for artist and writer residencies. Featuring local artists and writers, this approachable roundtable will cover topics such as: How artist and writers can benefit residencies, when to apply, how to apply, and how to raise funds to get you to the residency. An open dialogue with panelists,  audience members will be invited to contribute experiences and questions.  This event is a collaboration between ArtPrize and Artprize and is free and open to the public, but you must register to save your seat!

August 16th – Workshop Wednesdays: Submitting your art to literary journals Are you an artist looking to have your work published? Literary journals are an untapped niche market with the potential to help artists and writers to grow audiences, strengthen published portfolios,  develop relationships with publications and expand their connections in the publishing world. Join us for a workshop led by Laura Citino, editor of literature and arts magazine Sundog Lit, to discuss the ins and outs of the publishing business, and how to choose journals to submit to, as well as how to recognize where and when your aesthetic fits into a journal. This event is free and open to the public, register today!

Be sure to read our Severe Weather Event Policy. and stay up to date by following us on Facebook!


Coming Soon: Break it Down: Marketing 101 Bootcamp

Join us for a one day session covering the marketing basics from writing a press release to creating the tools for a successful promotions including building a website, social media, print promotions and ads.


Break it Down. is a series of events aimed at producing educational programming, discussions and professional development opportunities for artists, curators and venue coordinators in our community and region.


Speaker Bios: Break it Down. Make it Better.Coming Soon


Instructor: Doing Business

Alaina Clarke has her BFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry from Grand Valley State University. She also holds her Masters degree in Public Administration: Nonprofit Management and Leadership. Past organizations include Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Grand Valley, and West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology. Alaina is passionate about creating a diverse and inclusive environment for all creatives through education and dialogue. She is really excited to continue her work through the Society of North American Goldsmiths as the new Conference Program Manager.



Interested in volunteering at a Break it Down event? Email us at avenueforthearts@gmail.com










Break it Down|Make it Better

This year’s Break it Down | Make it Better was designed for you, by you. We have listened to your feedback and are putting together a day of captivating conversation about being an artist in 2017. From Getting Shows in Galleries to Forming Artists Collectives, conversation topics are being submitted by West Michigan artists, curators, art educators, venue coordinators and creative professionals. Join us on Saturday February 25, from 9-3pm at the UICA, 2 West Fulton. tickets are just $20 for members, $45 for non-members. Our day will include:

  • A Keynote Panel
  • 24 Roundtable Discussions
  • 3 Workshops
  • Light breakfast
  • Catered lunch from El Granjero

These programs are presented through an ongoing partnership with the Avenue for the Arts, ArtPrize and Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts.

Keynote Panel: Engaging Communities, Collaborative Dialogues around Art

Featured Panelists:

Janice Bond is a curator, interdisciplinary artist, and cultural producer specializing in arts and culture.

Lora Robertson a filmmaker and photographer working from New York City and West Michigan.

Omari Rush has a continually expanding role of service as an artistic administrator and community leader.

Nayda Collazo-Llorens, born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a visual artist engaged in an interdisciplinary practice incorporating multiple mediums and strategies.

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 After the keynote panel attend three conversations, participants are encouraged to mix-and-match and create a unique experience:

Expanding Audiences:

  • Marketing During ArtPrize
  • Maximizing your Website’s Potential
  • Securing Articles, TV & Radio interviews
  • Utilizing Social Media to Drive Event Attendance
Curating Practices:

  • Curating Great Shows
  • Discussing Here + Now: Abandoned Margins
  • Best Practices for All Gallery Types
Funding the Arts:

  • Finding Sponsorship
  • Advocating for the Arts
  • Arts Fundraising: Raising Money Without Losing Focus
  • Grant Writing
Artist Evolution:

  • Task Management & Rituals for Creatives
  • Appropriation & Plagiarism
  • Recovery: Art as Healing
  • Should I Go to Grad School?
Off the Wall:

  • Site Specific Performance
  • From Walls to Rooms
  • Projection & Digital Media
  • Art & Design, a Conversation
Professional Development:

  • Proposing Public Artworks
  • Pricing Artwork
  • Business Structures for Artists
  • Writing Artist Statements
Concentrating on Community:

  • Engaging Youth
  • Art in the Time of Fascism
  • Art as Resistance
  • Artist Collectives

Workshops and Roundtable Facilitators:

Janice Bond ● Emily Cobb ● Hugo Claudin ● Joe Voss ● Andrea Napierkowski ● Amanda Carmer Rainey ● Marcel “Fable” Price ● Christopher Smit and Jill Vyn ● Victoria Rosales ● Shivangee Pandya ● Lauren Rossi ● Amy Wilson ● Ethan Ross ● Jeffrey Augustine Songco ● Alysha Lach White ● Lora Robertson ● Ken Krayer ● Miranda Krajniak ● Elyse Welcher ● Jenn Schaub

Roundtables and Panelists include staff and members from the following organizations:

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University ● Avenue for the Arts ● ArtPrize ● Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts ● Creative Many Michigan ● CurlyHost ● Walless ● DisArt ● Design West Michigan ● Dance in the Annex ● Little Wings Designs ● Ann Arbor Art Center ● little space studio ● Satellite Collective ● Grand Valley State University ● American Institute of Graphic Arts ● The Diatribe ● Mexicains Sans Frontieres ● + independent artists

Break it Down | Make it Better. is a series of events aimed at producing educational programming, discussions and professional development opportunities for artists, curators and venue coordinators in our community and region. These programs are presented through an ongoing partnership with the Avenue for the Arts, ArtPrize and Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts.


Registration Rates and Dates


Timeframe Level Member:

Avenue for the Arts

Artprize Artists/Venues

UICA (+ Kendall Students)

Non Member
January 4th – February 2nd Early Bird $15 $40
February 3rd – Feburary 24th Regular $20 $45
February 25th Onsite $25 $50

Are you an Avenue for the Arts member? Login for your discounted rate!

Are you a member of the UICA, ArtPrize? If you are send an email to get the Member registration code Subject line “Break it Down- Registration code”

Questions? Email avenueforthearts@gmail.com



SOLD OUT: With a focus on practical business skills and strategies for creatives, Break it Down: Doing Business will step out of the box of a traditional small business model and refresh your creative entrepreneurial skills. This hands-on series will take an in depth look at your current business practices, envisioning a healthier balance between your business and creative output.

The series will provide access to business building tools, identify opportunities, strengthen networks, refine promotion of brands and goods while discovering ways to reduce costs and increase income. Participants will troubleshoot issues specific to creative business development. Based on new curriculum developed in conjunction with Grand Valley State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, it is recommended that you attend all sessions.


  • January 19, 26
  • February 2,9,16,23

There are a limited number of seats available and the series has a cost of $50 for current Avenue members to participate and $100 for non members. Please complete this form to reserve your spot today, Applications are Due July 28 and participants will be notified by August 10.

Registration now open

What are participants in the Doing Business Cohort Saying?

“Regardless of what phase you are in with developing your business strategy there is something you can gain from this class.”

“It challenges you to think about integrating yourself into a dimension that usually isn’t open to what artists offer.”

“Really emphasized skills I only had in my periphery gave me confidence to pursue those skills, and improve my self and business.”


Support from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.










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Get Gallery Ready : Building an Artist/Gallery Relationship

Join us for an intimate conversation with local gallery owner Linda Lafontsee (Lafontsee Galleries) and up and coming artist, Randi Ford as we discuss how contemporary artists and galleries, establish effective sales partnerships. Learn best practices for approaching a gallery, having work on exhibit and generating sales.

This conversation will feature content geared towards emerging artists looking to obtain gallery representation and how to establish a successful sales partnership. Dinner is included, please reserve your spot today.


Documentation from Break it Down. Make it Better. February 2016

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Break it Down, Make it Better. returns for its third year on February 20th, from 9:30 am- 3pm. This collaboration of Avenue for the Arts, ArtPrize, and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts will consist of panel discussions and small workshops. The program serves as a framework for connecting the arts community in Grand Rapids, and facilitating engaging conversations about issues pertaining to the arts community.

From building new communities through technology, to inspiring social change through art, how are artists shaping Grand Rapids? Break it Down. Make it Better. will feature a series of ten conversations engaging dedicated, mid-career or beginning curators, artists, appreciators, and documenters. Keynote panelists will share a statewide discussion about the implications of creating art as  placemaking. Join us to examine the role of artists and organizations as they interpret communities, start conversations and engage in public space.

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Conversations and Speakers include:


Creating Public Works in a Time of Placemaking – Keynote panelists share a statewide discussion about the implications of creating art as  placemaking. Join us to discuss the artist and organizational role in interpreting communities, start conversations and working in public space.

Featured Voices: Anna Campbell, Debbie Mikula, Ashlee Arder, Eddie Tadlock

Moderator: Katie Moore



Building a Social Media Market – Creating a supportive social media audience

Featured Voices: Eric Kuhn, Marlee Hanson, Ashley Trieu, Corey Lipsey

Moderator: AJ Paschka

From Artist to Creative Entrepreneur – Does a shift in description and perspective about the role of artist in community change modes of making?

Featured Voices: Alaina Clarke, Paul Wittenbraker, Hugo Claudin

Discussion Leader: Tamara Fox

Engaging your Audience through Dynamic Events – Creating spaces and events to share ideas, make sales and connect

Featured Voices: Creative Mornings with Julie Jamieson Swenson, Romy Glazer


12:30-1: Lunch



Creating Works to Scale– Scaling your art, setting prices, and creating proposals for a public spaces

Featured Voices: Erwin Erkfitz, Jason Quigno, Mandy Cano Villalobos, Cezanne Charles

Moderator: Tom Clinton

Writing Dynamite Proposals  – Creating a winning toolkit and applying for shows and grants

Featured Voices: Taylor Rupp, Mark Rumsey, George Bayard

Discussion Leader: Amanda Carmer

Branding: much more than a logo – What it is, how it works, and where to start

Featured Voices: AIGA West Michigan – Sara Klele, Kelly Werner, Bree Mullen



Art and Social Action – Developing an artistic voice that challenges systems

Featured Voices: Monroe O’Bryant, Deb Rockman, Michael Hyacinthe, Elizabeth Van Arragon, Lydia VanHoven

Moderator: Katherine Williams

Words that Sell – What to say, and what to leave out, when writing about your artwork

Featured Voice: Kristen Taylor

How to Fund your Project – a discussion about Grants, Kickstarter and Sponsorship.

Featured Voices: Erin Wilson, Nick Nortier, Steffanie Rosalez


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Attendees from last year’s event have expressed how helpful the conversation was, describing it as a great opportunity that made them “feel more confident in taking part in the Grand Rapids art community.”

The event will be hosted by the UICA at 2 Fulton West in downtown Grand Rapids. This event is free to Avenue for the Arts members, UICA members, and Artprize 2016 Venue representatives and Artists; the non-member fee is $35. Space is limited, and it is highly recommended that attendees register in advance. Register here. 

Help us spread the word by RSVP-ing on Facebook, following the conversation on Twitter and Instagram using  #breakitdown. For more information about the event or Avenue for the Arts, please contact Callie Cherry at avenueforthearts@gmail.com, or at (616) 238-3907.


This is from the August 26th event, Break it Down: Tales of Sales

Break it Down: Tales of Sales

Taking place on August 26th, seven local artists will share tales of sales including how they sell and market work while sharing tips for emerging artists. After short presentations attendees will be invited to chat with artists directly in small roundtable groups. Dinner is included, space is limited so please register below to save your seat.



Megan Klco  is an artist and arts educator working in Grand Rapids, MI. Her paintings have been exhibited throughout the region and address notions of memory and place through an emphasis on abstract shape and color. Klco received her MFA from Kendall College of Art and Design in 2012 and her BFA from Truman State University.


Ashley TrieuIMG_1135 Iconoclasp is a collection of hand-picked vintage, original handmade clothing, and accessories by Ashley Trieu.  Inspired by the spirit of past eras, Iconoclasp creations are intended to intrigue souls of the unique, the rebellious, and the bold. Iconoclasp began on Etsy as a vintage only shop, but has expanded to include iconoclasp.com which sells exclusively handmade merchandise.  Ashley is a self-taught designer/seamstress and started her business on what was intended to be a year-long break before attending graduate school.  She is currently devoting herself full-time to developing Iconoclasp.


Susan Hazel Rich  currently splits her time between building her personal line of illustrated stationery Susan-Hazel-Rich-04-19-2013-Headshots-0008and home goods and working for both national and local clients creating logos, websites, and print marketing Susan has a BFA in  Visual Communication Design from Kent State University and over 12 years of experience in the marketing and design industry. In 2008, Susan began showing her personal work under the name Hazelmade at occasional craft markets, galleries, and online through a small Etsy shop. This past Spring Hazelmade launched a full wholesale collection, and these goods can now be found at markets, galleries, and shops across the U.S. In addition to an Etsy storefront Hazelmade now has its own independent online shopping website. See the entire line of Hazelmade goods at ShopHazelmade.com, and browse Susan’s client based design work at SHRCreative.com



portraitBrett Grill For the past 10 years J Brett Grill has been producing portraits and monuments, which draw on the rich traditions of figurative sculpture. Brett earned a Bachelor’s degree in sculpture from the University of Michigan in 2001 and an MFA in painting at the New York Academy of Art in 2003, both with honors. He has been awarded artist residencies in France and Norway and various grants from the University of Missouri. He has lectured on his own work and historical artistic techniques throughout the Midwest. He has exhibited at various galleries and museums in cities across the nation including Chicago and New York. Brett’s commissioned works can be found at Grand Valley State University, Albion College, the city of Grand Rapids, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, the University of Michigan, the University of Kentucky, the National Archives, the National Statuary Hall Collection of the United States Capitol Building, and the Arizona Capitol Museum. He is also represented in private collections from coast to coast. Brett is currently Associate Professor of Art and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO.





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Peter Jacob  In 2004, Peter Jacob graduated with honors from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While a student at Kendall, Peter was awarded a full-ride scholarship and held an internship with Warren & Associates. His time at this firm was interrupted only once during his two-year employment when, in the summer of 2003, Peter was granted a six-week internship with David Linley & Associates in London, England. Peter remains active at Kendall and served for three years as president of the Kendall Alumni Board of Directors in order to source internships and scholarships for students. Kindel Furniture Company hired Peter as a freelance designer in April 2005 to work on the development of new collections. The following January, Peter was named Director of Design for Kindel and was inducted as a member of the companies marketing and management teams. Peter also served as Director of Design Projects at Joseph Jeup before starting his independent design firm, Peter Jacob Kind Creative, in 2008.


This is from the August 5th event, Break it Down: Trade Secrets

Break it Down: Trade Secrets 

Local artists will share secrets about balancing the creation of new work with an effective professional practice. This panel discussion will provide insight into the daily life of an artist, as well as, provide tips for success. Dinner is included, and space is limited, so please RSVP to save your seat for this August 5th panel discussion.


quigno1_webJason Quigno can take a heavy block of hard, rigid stone and turn it into a seemingly weightless series of flowing forms, curling and interlocking with a distinct sense of movement.  While he polishes the surface of certain pieces to a smooth, shiny finish, at times he chooses to expose the stone’s raw texture, or to meticulously etch one side, highlighting the apparent flow of something as unyielding as stone. With the goal of evoking a sense of peace, Quigno deliberately chooses simple designs and captivates the viewer with a sense of graceful movement. He lets the stone dictate its direction; certain pieces have a natural flow, while others require more manipulation to avoid lines and flaws. Jason Quigno was inspired at a young age by the work of his uncle, and went on to take a sculpture class taught by Dennie Christy.  He the apprenticed under Daniel Mena, and has since been exhibiting his work across the United States.



11062122_10153155181367402_337786545901362830_nAbbey Bradley  lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan and works out of a downtown studio. Originally from Korea, she was brought to West Michigan at the age of three and raised by her adopted family. She began art studies at Grand Rapids Community College and continued to Kendall College of Art and Design where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting. Her work has shown in the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center, Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids, DeVos Place and Huntington Bank during ArtPrize, Cascade Gallery, the VanSingel Fine Arts Center, and Festival of the Arts.




terry-johnstonTerry Johnston I shoot people – with my camera, and I am a freelance photographer out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. I specialize in event photography, as well as making images for publications. I like coffee and more coffee. When I’m not behind the camera… um, oh wait – am I ever not behind the camera? Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan.




This is from the July 15- September 5th, Break it Down: Doing Business

Break it Down: Doing Business

With a focus on practical business skills and strategies for creatives, Break it Down: Doing Business will break out of the mold of a traditional small business model and refresh your creative entrepreneurship skills. This hands-on session series will take an indepth look at your current business practices,  envisioning a healthier balance between your business and creative output.

The series will provide access to business building tools, identify opportunities, strengthen networks, refine promotion of brands and goods while discovering ways to reduce costs and increase income.  By working together in a tight knit Cohort participants will troubleshoot issues specific to business development. Based on new curriculum developed in conjunction with Grand Valley State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the next Artist Cohort begins on January 12 and concludes March 1st. The Cohort will be taking place at the Avenue for the Arts Space which is located on 307 South Division. Applications need to be submitted by November 1st.

There are a limited number of seats available and the series has a cost of $50 for members to participate, $100 non members. Please complete this form to reserve your spot today.

Instructor: Doing Business

Alaina Clarke has her BFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry from Grand Valley State University and just completed her Masters degree in Public Administration: Nonprofit Management and Leadership from GVSU with a concentration in curriculum development.The curriculum will bridge the gap between fine artists and business by converting terminology and business techniques into lessons that is conducive to the learning style of creatives. She currently works part time at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation as a Program Coordinator for the Teen Entrepreneur Summer Academy. TESA hosts 40 high school students for a 5 day entrepreneurial boot camp that takes teens from ideation of an idea to a five minute pitch for cash prizes.


This is from the March 1st event, Break it down. Make it better.

February 2015 Panelists!IMG_0229

Ryan Myers-Johnson is the curator and founder of Sidewalk Festival of Performing Arts (SFPA), an outdoor celebration of performance and installation art in the heart of Detroit’s Old Redford and Brightmoor Neighborhoods.  SFPA presents subversive, relevant, and interactive works of performance art, dance, music, and theater as well as installations. The curatorial vision is to commission local and national artists, particularly those who can engage youth and community, in the creation of socially relevant place-based performance. In addition to SFPA Ryan is an active choreographer, addressing issues of gender and ethnicity in urban settings. 



Tim Lane is a poet, and a painter. He lives in Lansing, Michigan. He is the director and curator of (SCENE) Metrospace, the City of East Lansing’s contemporary art gallery and performance space. He is the assistant coordinator of the East Lansing Art Festival. He has a master’s degree in creative writing from Michigan State University. His poetry has appeared in numerous print and online journals; his paintings have exhibited in Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, South Bend and Washington, D.C.


Sabina Ott is known for her broad range of work—from painting to installation to sculpture—and her central role in the art world asSabina teacher, administrator, and recently, as the founder of the exhibition space Terrain, which invites artists to create installations and performances using the exterior of her Oak Park home. She earned both her BFA and MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Exhibiting since 1985, Ott has participated in over 100 solo and group exhibitions at institutions in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Auckland, New Zealand; Melbourne, Australia; and many cities across the US. Her work is in numerous museum collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Oakland Museum of Art, and has been reviewed in Art in America, Art Forum, New Art Examiner, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Most recently she has completed a public art commission for the Chicago Transit Authority and a solo exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center. She is Professor of Art at Columbia College Chicago.


Ron Platt is the new Chief Curator for the GRAM. He has organized over fifty exhibitions, including one person and thematic group exhibitions, and commissioned projects, most accompanied by catalogs. His career began at MIT’s  List Visual Arts Center, where he was hired as Curatorial Assistant, and later promoted to ronAssistant Curator. Platt subsequently served as Curator at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina. He holds a BA in American Studies from University of Maryland and an MBA in Arts Administration from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His professional experience also includes fundraising, grant writing, programming, and training of both staff and docents. He has lectured regularly to diverse groups, led interpretive tours, organized events, led public outreach, and planned led national travel itineraries for art groups.


Panel Discussion Moderator:
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Kevin Buist is an artist, writer, curator, critic of art and film, and Exhibitions Director for ArtPrize, where he oversees artists, curators, jurors, and guest speakers. He has exhibited artwork in solo and group exhibitions in New York City and Grand Rapids, and his writing has been featured in numerous print and online publications including the Art:21 Blog, where he was a Blogger in Residence, as well as MNartists.org, Solace Magazine, and kevinbuist.com/blog.

Roundtable Facilitators:

Tommy Allen the most un-Calvin College graduate one will ever meet, is an artist at A+P Studio at Tanglefoot, content creator, award-winning lifestyle editor, and new Publisher at Issue MediaTommy Editorial Blue the New Green Group’sRapidGrowthMedia.com – a weekly online magazine that has been publishing stories about the place-making & economic eco-system of the Greater Grand Rapids area as well as other parts of our state since 2006. His artwork has been exhibited in and around Grand Rapids but also throughout lower Manhattan since 1996 having been included in many collections including the Leslie + Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art (New York).  When he is not stirring the pot via his Twitter (@TommyGsync), Facebook (LINK) or Instagram (semi-private, sorry), he can be found enjoying the company of his fellow creatives who are collectively trying to shape Grand Rapids’ legacy into something more than simply a place for cheap paintings and “free exposure” venues. (He’s the hardest on himself in reality and is why he secretly explores karaoke bars.)

Collin Bradford 

A297390_10100836929024458_13715686_63003687_1912033923_nmanda Carmer is a graduate of Purdue University, Columbia College Chicago, and she most recently received an MFA from Kendall College of Art & Design. In 2012, along with friend and fellow artist Hunter Bridwell, Amanda founded Craft House a collaborative exhibition space dedicated to the support of local artists through a variety of exhibition opportunities, workshops, and other services. 



Alaina Clarke has her BFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry and is finishing her MPA in Nonprofit Management and Leadership, both from GVSU. She currently works at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation as a Graduate Assistant. Her thesis focuses around bridging the gap between artists as entrepreneurs through the creation of a curriculum that will assist artists with business skills in a way that is conducive to their learning style and break down the barriers that currently exist.



Anjalika Lobo puts her creative and professional efforts into coordinating and nurturing UICA’s Open Projector Night film series, which gives Michigan filmmakers a venue and an audience for their own work.  She attended Grand Valley State University and studied film and video.  Anjalika is currently directing her third short film.

Aaminah Shakur


Chris Ted X portrait

Christopher R. Smit, PhD (Director of DisArt) is a disability activist, author, and published scholar in the field of Disability Studies. He is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Calvin College. Smit has spent his career writing, teaching, and speaking about the curious combination of culture and the different body. Chris was recently awarded the Champion of Diversity Award by the Grand Rapids mayor, George Heartwell.



Jill Vyn, MSW (Festival Developer of DisArt) is a community organizer who has worked for the last five years in Grand Rapids serving Latino and Disability communities. Vyn is on contract with Kendall College of Art and Design to make community connections within their Arts and Access Initiative.


unnamedPaul Wittenbraker’s work and teaching focuses on the role that public culture plays in the formation of equitable and sustainable social and political structures and practices. He has been part of the arts in Grand Rapids since becoming Executive Director at UICA in 1987. He teaches in the Art and Design Department at GVSU where he heads the Visual Studies program and established Civic Studio in 1999.



Mike Wolf is an Exhibitions Assistant at the Fed Galleries @KCAD, DAAC Board Member, and Avenue for the Arts Advisory Committee Member. He received a BFA from Grand Valley State University with an emphasis in Visual Studies, and has been involved with the Avenue in various capacities since 2007.




SCHEDULE- February 28 at the UICA

9:00-9:30am: Arrival, coffee with light breakfast

9:30-10:45am: Panel discussion

11:00-11:45am: First round table

12:00-12:45pm: Second round table

1:00-2:00pm: Optional lunch (Sign-up during registration)

Panel: Comparing Curatorial Practice. From gallery walls to streetside, performance to painting, curators shape the viewers experience by building relationships between the artwork, space and audience. This panel will look deconstruct a variety of curatorial practices in traditional and nontraditional settings. Our regionally selected panelists share methods from both institutional and grassroots perspectives. This conversation is great for beginning curators, artists, appreciators and documenters.

Here are our final topics for the February 28th Roundtable discussions chosen by YOU!

  • Building community around film in Grand Rapids
  • The intersection of art and technology
  • Building an arts based business practice
  • Breaking down the barriers of cliques and peer groups in the creative community.
  • Resources for small scale, non-commercial creative projects
  • Curating for ArtPrize: Best Practices
  • Arts and Access: Intentional display and gallery design for expanding audiencesThe impact of commercial/building development: Artists and gentrification
  • Grand Rapids as a platform for engaging in a national dialogue about art.
  • Will work for free? Artists and the donation of time, resources and work.

Break it Down, Make it Better. is an ongoing conversation series facilitated in partnership with Avenue for the Arts, ArtPrize and the UICA. We use this page to store documentation of past events.


Bios: September Speakers


CHRIS PROTASChris Protas is an original board member of Grand Haven Artwalk and has been the Director/Curator of the Fire Barn Gallery (firebarngallery.com) since its renewal in October 2011. He studied painting at the New York Studio School in Manhattan in the mid­ 90’s, where he lived and painted until 2010, when he relocated to Grand Haven to work on his art. He has designed and painted numerous murals in several cities and shows with the group Painting In New York.  He has utilized the gallery as a platform to facilitate collaborations with numerous West Michigan art institutions, and is currently overseeing a project paying homage to the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

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Kevin Buist is an artist, writer, curator, and critic of art and film. He has exhibited artwork in solo and group exhibitions in New York City and Grand Rapids, and has been featured in numerous print and online publications including the ART:21 Blog, where he was a Blogger in Residence, as well as MNartists.org, Solace Magazine, and Art Hack.



Lisa Ambrose

Lisa Ambrose is an illustrator and artist whose works have been shown in regional, national and international exhibitions.  An Automotive Design Engineer for 15 years before finally committing to her art, she studied illustration and painting at Kendall College of Art & Design and earned an MFA in illustration at The University of Hartford. She currently teaches as an Adjunct Professor at Kendall College of Art & Design where her interest in designing community-minded coursework has resulted in relevant student experiences and exciting student successes.

Our May 15th event focused on getting connected and getting paid.

Are you:

  • a venue looking for a curator or artist?
  • a Curator looking for a venue or artist?
  • an Artist looking for a venue or curator?

Mix, mingle, get social, who knows you just might find a match! We will begin promptly at 5:15 and finish at 6:30pm.

Hear from local artists who are successfully selling in non-traditional spaces. From street markets, online sales or coffee shops, hear about best practices, tips of the trade and real life success stories.



Our schedule from the March 1st conversation series:


Whether you’re an artist, curator, documenter, or all three, there will be something for you! Over the course of the day, attendees will discuss a variety of themes exploring the balance of creative studio practices, tools to design a great looking art show, the importance of artist contracts and best practices for artists, curators, sites and documenters. Check out the full schedule below!

  • Blue= Artist Track
  • Orange= Documenter Track
  • Green= Curator Track

9:30am -10:00am



Managing your Creative Life

What Documenters Do

Selecting Artists: How to Make a Show




Connecting to Experience

Curating Across Disciplines

Contracts: Better Safe than Sorry

2:00pm- 3:30pm

Conceptual Vision to Practical Application

No One is Coming to Save You

Going Back to Basics

Artist Trackverticalartist

No One is Coming to Save You –  Three local artists, who make a living by selling creative works, discuss how to stay true to your vision, advocate for yourself, promote your work, and make money.  Because no one is going to do it for you.


Contracts: Better Safe than Sorry – Reading and writing the fine print of contracts can shape your exhibition experience, sales and personal relationships. De-bunk the myth of scary contracts and learn how they can protect your rights as an artist or curator.


Managing your Creative Life – Is it possible to balance jobs, kids, and everyday life to make time for studio practice?   Panelists discuss staying motivated, when and how to say no, and tools they use to manage time and projects.



Curator Track

Conceptual Vision to Practical Application – How does a show go from an idea to a fully realized exhibition? Panelists talk about their strategies and how they combine artwork of various backgrounds to create a direct vision.


Selecting Artists: How to Make a Show – Strong shows are the outcome of curator vision, the selection of work, and intentional organization of works within a space. These local curators are working purposefully with artists and creating exhibitions that work for the space.


Curating Across Disciplines – Expressing a vision often involves creating a curated experience. Hear from professionals, across a range of fields, who utilize curatorial practice to create films, retail spaces and events.

Documenter Track

What Documenters Do?- What role does documentation play? What forms can documentation take? This roundtable conversation takes a look at the nuts and bolts of capturing work and focuses on what Grand Rapids based documentors are doing in order to successfully document art shows, events and their lives.


Connecting to Experience – Documentation of shows help us to attract audiences, agitate conversation and apply for shows. Find out how panelists are utilizing images and conversations to leverage new opportunities, contribute to the visual history of an institution, and create valuable artifacts of performance-based works.


Going Back to Basics – Learn the basic building blocks of a successful show! Step by step breakdown, from crafting a call for art, to creating effective promotions and business cards, this session will be sure to provide you with the tools to have your own show!


Presenters from the March 1st conversation series:

march1Georgia Taylor is an independent artist living in Grand Rapids, her work includes Drawing, Murals, Graphic Design and Photography. She has taught Graphic Design at the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology and Kendall College of Art and Design. She was a speaker at TEDx Macatawa 2013 and a former apprentice of Grand Rapids artist Paul Collins.




Tom Duimstra (b. 1951) is a painter, sculptor and mixed media artist who has been exhibiting his work nationally and internationally for over 30 years.





Mandy Cano Villalobos earned her MFA from The George Washington, and currently teaches Painting at Calvin College. Her work spans a variety of genres, from installation and film to textiles and drawings. Cano Villalobos exhibits throughout the United States, and will be featured in Lisa Vinebaum’s article ʺPerforming Globalization: Anne Wilson and Mandy Cano Villalobosʺ, for inclusion an upcoming textile anthology.





Annie DeYoung‘s love for organization has recently led her to a new position as the Assistant Digital Project Manager at Mighty in the Midwest, a web and mobile design and development company. She does not have a good indoor voice, but luckily is fairly positive. Three things that she couldn’t live without are her pup, her large format camera, and most of all her green beast of a kayak that would be taken everywhere if the roads were rivers.



Holly Bechiri is the Managing Editor of The Rapidian, and co-founder of The Creative Notebook. In her time at The Rapidian, she has developed a full training curriculum for citizen journalists and interns, and loves to foster real talk about art and culture: the value and appreciation of it as well as its critique.




Brandon Belote is an Audio/Video Technician at the UICA Film Theatre. He directs and produces video projects for the UICA and manages the Open Projector Film Series. Brandon graduated from Kendall College of Art & Design with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts Drawing.




Matt Gubancsik is a Grand Rapids based documentary and fine art photographer. As Photo Services Coordinator for Kendall College of Art and Design, he photographs events, galleries, and student life, along with finalizing his Masters in Fine Art Photography. In his personal work, he captures, constructs, and augments small sights in the world to create captivating sublime vistas.





Heather Duffy, Exhibitions Manager, ArtPrize, is an artist, designer, curator, and maker from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Heather volunteers as a member of the Avenue for the Arts Advisory Committee and serves as the Exhibitions Committee Chair of the Portland Community Arts Council Board. Heather has an MFA from Kendall College of Art and Design.




Alexander Paschka is Exhibitions Curator at Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and an artist focusing on time and light based work. His practice is grounded in designing positive guest experiences and viable models of creation across a range of disciplines. His experience includes Grand Rapids Art Museum, Lazerboyz, Weather Collage, Site:Lab, Avenue for the Arts, Satellite Gallery, Rapid Growth Media, and Nantucket Baking Company.




Miranda Sharp received a BFA in Illustration from Kendall College in 2012. Since then she has curated and participated in many art shows, working to showcase new artists and connect them with potential collectors. In early spring of this year she will be opening ʺGlitter Milk Galleryʺ to help foster a pop surrealism art scene to Grand Rapids.




Ben Mitchell is an independent curator, writer, and the art editor of basalt, a literary journal. Through Duende Projects, he originates exhibitions and publishes books and catalogues on contemporary art and culture. He lives and works on a small farm in southwest Michigan and in the northern Idaho Rockies.




Taylor Greenfield is a native Grand Rapidian, artist, and birdwatcher.  She is an Assistant Professor of Drawing at Kendall College of Art Design, loves her job at UICA as the Volunteer and Events Coordinator, and is exceptional at making dirty dishes.





Annamarie Buller: I currently work as a development associate at Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan. I have been filling needs for the Avenue for the Arts and Dwelling Place as a board member, curator, volunteer coordinator, connector and organizer on the Avenue for the Arts District since 2003. I have worked with hundreds of incredible artists and volunteers over the years and have been amazed by the power of art to grow and transform this diverse community.




Todd Herring is a marketing professional with 15 years business development, product development, event planning, advertising and media planning experience in major consumer packaged goods, professional services and creative consulting. Todd also works as a musician and comedian. He’s been performing with the award-winning River City Improv for 10 years and is excited to be returning to LaughFest this year with his show “Cash Box.”



Jessica Pleyel is a conceptual artist and curator located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, her studio practice is multi-faceted, and includes sculpture, costume design, performance, video, and playwriting. Major themes within her practice encompass familial relations, feminism, gender identity, and the performative nature of hunting. She graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2012 with a BFA in Visual Studies and currently works at Kendall College of Art and Design.




Tim Motley: I started shooting as a pro in the early 80’s, working in the fashion field with companies like Paul Mitchell, then I moved into high end weddings. From there I spent three years shooting social media, the entire time I have been shooting, I have also worked on and off in the fine art field of photography. Also during the mid 90’s , I was a partner in a gallery in South Haven.





Mike Saunders: I am a film producer, DJ and promoter of music and film. I’ve worked almost every end of event planning.





Over the course of his career, Bill Holsinger-Robinson has been an entrepreneur, consultant, executive, scholar, chef and competitive cyclist. His projects have included TEDxGrandRapids, ArtPrize and HUB Grand Rapids. Bill is pattern recognizer with a love for new ideas, problem solving and story-telling.





An attorney turned artist, Tom Clinton practiced commercial law for 15 years before going to art school.  He has a BFA in printmaking from Kendall and is represented by LaFontsee Galleries.  Clinton is the exhibition coordinator at SiTE:LAB, handling legal, financial and administrative matters.





Amanda Carmer is a graduate student at Kendall College of Art & Design. She serves on the Avenue for the Arts Advisory Committee and operates Craft House, a small gallery and live/work space on the corner of Weston and South Division. Amanda will graduate in May and plans to pursue a career in collegiate education and continue participating in community arts projects.




Tia Grass has been a clay and mosaic artist for 25 years. She is a member of various arts organizations including Mosaic Artists of Michigan and the Society of Mosaic Artists. As Chair of the Fountain Street’s Art Committee for the past 12 years, Tia has staged ArtPrize exhibits at FSC’s venue since 2009.






Cindy Buckner joined the Grand Rapids Art Museum in 2008 as Associate Curator, after receiving an M.Phil. in Art History from the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. She has over fifteen years of experience working with American and European art in American museums, including the Baltimore Museum of Art; National Academy Museum, New York; and the Newark Museum, New Jersey. She has curated numerous exhibitions for the Grand Rapids Art Museum, including ArtPrize® 2010-2014.



Alynn Guerra: Primarily a block printmaker, her work depicts the imagery of modern life translated into bold black and white prints. She is the owner of the printmaking shop Red Hydrant Press, and a member of the Pinafore Print Collective.






Erwin Erkfitz operates a Graphic Arts Production Studio in Grand Rapids, MI. He focuses on Graphic Design, Screen Printing and Large Format Street Art. Erwin and his wife Audrey live and volunteer along South Division downtown GR within the creative corridor known as The Avenue for the Arts.






Chris Cox is an artist living and working in Grand Rapids. He manages Gaspard, an artist run studio and gallery located in downtown Grand Rapids. His artwork work is primarily photographic, captured on medium format color negative film.






Ryan Greaves is a graphic designer, photographer, artist, collector, cat lover and forever eagle scout. He enjoys making people smile and is inspired by the absurd, unique and weird. Reason and rationale guide him in his work, but nothing’s perfect.






Marlee Grace is a space maker, crafter, performance artist, and shop keeper at Have Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  She focuses on improvisation in quilting, dance making, and day to day living.  She also hosts an artist residency in the back of her shop and can’t get her hands on enough zines.





Michele Bosak is a curator and artist who received her Masters in Fine Arts and Museum Studies from Northern Illinois University. From her early days at UICA as a Curatorial Committee Member, to independent projects and curatorial work, she’s been active in the art and design field for over ten years. She is currently the Curator of Exhibitions at KCAD.





Tom Logan is a member of the ArtPrize committee for the Fountain Street Church/ ACLU venue.  He is past-president of the Western Michigan ACLU Branch Board, and chair of the FSC Social Action Committee.





Lucas Schurkamp is a graphic designer, artist, and musician. He is the Graphic Design Coordinator at the Grand Rapids Art Museum where he has worked since 2008.






Sarah Knill received her BFA for the University of Illinois and MFA from Kendall College of Art and Design.  She is currently an adjunct drawing professor at KCAD and co-operates Spiral on the Avenue for the Arts in Grand Rapids.





Magdalene Law: After graduating from Kendall College Of Art and Design with a BFA in Graphic Design, I gained several years of experience in working with design firms, galleries, and freelance projects. I am owner of Con Artist Crew, which is a local alternative gallery/crew, who supports local community and local artists. I Co-Own CONceptz with Katie Moore, a software for galleries and artists alike, which will be launched the end of March.




Kevin Buist is an artist, writer, curator, and critic of art and film, and Exhibitions Director for ArtPrize, where he overseas artists, curators, jurors, and guest speakers. He has exhibited artwork in solo and group exhibitions in New York City and Grand Rapids, and has been featured in numerous print and online publications including the Art:21 Blog, where he was a Blogger in Residence, as well as Solace Magazine, Art Hack, and SpoutBlog.



Erin Wilson is Director of Wealthy Theatre, co-founder and Board President of ArtPeers (501c3), co-founder of ULIE (Until Love Is Equal), a core member of ArtPrize “Top 5” Jury Nominated modern-dance collective DITA (Dance in the Annex) along with his wife, Amy, who founded DITA and serves as its Artistic Director. Wilson has been involved with ArtPrize nearly every year in various collaborations; and other site-specific collaborations at Art.Downtown, ACTIVESITE and SiTE:LAB. Erin works in multiple mediums including dance-on-film videography, activist multimedia, photography, performing arts, audio engineering and writing.



Carson Davis Brown is a photographer and film maker with a background in design. Intentional about working commercially and non-commercially, Carson allows his curiosity to propel him to new places, ideas and techniques.





Rick Beerhorst: Each work is the result of a slow process of planning, building, tearing down and building up again. I use oil paint and sable brushes to create the images, razor blades and sand paper to break them down and reveal portions of earlier paint layers. A consistent narrative element is my desire to link the ordinary to the mystical.




Linda LaFontsee: A noted art consultant, gallery owner for over 25 years, and nationally collected artist, her extensive knowledge of art and framing benefit all who come to her for assistance and advice. Named UICA’s Women in the Arts in 2010, receiving the YWCA Tribute Award for Business in 2005, Business Honor Roll Award, and Michigan Governor’s Awards for Arts and Culture, Linda is an active leader in the West Michigan art community.








In 2013 we decided to take a fresh look at our Artists as Entrepreneurs series. Our winter series tied into themes associated with putting on public exhibitions and featured small panel discussions,  round tables and resource sharing. Over 40 artists, curators, and documenters participated in the series. Below is a description of each discussion/workshop.

2013 Schedule and discussions:

February 13th 2013 Documenting in Context. How we document a show provides the context for remembering artwork. It flavors the memories of people who participated and presents an experience for people who did not attend. How do we translate experiences through artifacts, photos and criticism to build resources for artists? How can documentation be a work of art in itself? Location: 106 Gallery, 106 South Division, 5:30pm

February 20th  2013 Which comes first when curating a show? The work or the subject matter. Should good shows reflect work available in the community or should curators ask artists to create specific subject based work. Is curating a retroactive or proactive action?   This conversation will be lead by local curators looking at both approaches. Location: 106 Gallery, 106 South Division, 5:30pm

February 27   2013  Non traditional spaces and shows. How do traditional artists translate their work into non traditional spaces? How do we substantiate the value of exhibition outside of traditional gallery spaces? Open your creative process and explore new ideas for exhibition, process and presentation. Location: 106 Gallery, 106 South Division, 5:30pm

March 13  2013   Round table discussion for documenters of Art.Downtown. Share ideas, challenges and explore resources, from online ‘zine platforms, to photo sharing tips, and video resources; participants. Will share ideas about techniques for going digital and/or creating a physical objects. Location: UICA 2 W. Fulton Street , 5:30pm

March 20  2013  Roundtable discussion for curators of Art.Downtown. Share ideas, challenges and explore resources. Workshop your curators statement, pick up supplies, troubleshoot space issues and connect with other curators. Looking for last minute artists, have an emergency? This is your last chance. Location: UICA 2 W. Fulton Street , 5:30pm

March 27  2013  Roundtable discussion for artists of Art.Downtown. Making the most out of your show experience, how to document your work while it is on display or revise your artists statement. We will supply tips, peer to peer conversation and resources.  Still have questions about the event, connecting with your curator, drop off and pick up? Connect here. Location: UICA 2 W. Fulton Street , 5:30pm

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