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Community updates: Thursday, Sept. 2

Blandford Nature Center celebrating late founder with four-day exhibit; Grand Rapids Public Library returning to regular hours; and ArtPrize adding locations beyond downtown for 2021 event.
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Mary Jane Dockeray sitting at Blandford Nature Center.

Mary Jane Dockeray sitting at Blandford Nature Center. /Two Eagles Marcus

Blandford Nature Center celebrating late founder with four-day exhibit

Blandford Nature Center (BNC) is inviting the public to join in the celebration of the life and achievements of its founder Dr. Mary Jane Dockeray, who passed away in Grand Rapids on Aug. 18, 2020 at 93.

From Sept. 8-11 from 9am-5pm, the public can view an exhibit about Dockeray’s life in the Mary Jane Dockeray Visitor Center at BNC. The four-day exhibit will highlight her passions and accomplishments over the span of several decades.

Dockeray was a pioneer in environmental education and a local icon, according to BNC, with a passion for inspiring people of all ages to fall in love with and protect nature. The center’s exhibit aims to document her journey in doing so.

"[Mary Jane] will be remembered for many things, but she is perhaps best known for her classroom visits and lectures with her ancient slide projector," said Jason Meyer, BNC President & CEO. "With this machine in hand, she brought nature to life through vivid imagery and stories that enthralled children and adults alike."

"Visitors will be able to see some of her slides," he added, "as well as view a documentary about her life and a digitized version of one of her most iconic presentations, 'These Things are Ours.'"

During the four-day celebration, the center’s Historic Buildings will also be open each day from 10am-3pm.

Prior to the founder’s passing, BNC, in collaboration with the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, purchased the Highlands Golf Club and is in the process of transforming the 121-acre property into a natural area for community recreation and education. Located adjacent to BNC on the west side of Grand Rapids, the area is now known as The Highlands.

A full list of BNC’s upcoming events and programs is available on its website.


Grand Rapids Public Library returning to regular hours

For the first time since spring 2020, Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) is returning to its regular, pre-pandemic hours at all locations.

The new hours will take effect Sept. 7. Sunday hours at GRPL’s Main Library will return on Sept. 12.

GRPL reopened its doors to the public this Feb. with limited hours, following COVID-related closures. It has offered its GRPL to Go service since June 2020, which has included curbside pickup, contactless printing, and other contactless services. These services will continue at several of its branches during open hours.

Regular hours for the downtown Main Library are 9am-9pm Monday through Thursday, 9am-6pm Friday and Saturday, and 1-5pm on Sunday. Regular hours for GRPL’s other branches vary, with these branches all being closed on Sundays.

"GRPL will continue to offer free printing, faxing, copying, and scanning services at all locations," the library noted about its in-person services in a Wednesday statement. "Free WiFi, hotspots, and public computers are also available."

COVID-19 guidelines remain in place for GRPL, with patrons encouraged to wear face coverings while using the library. Its staff are required to wear face coverings while working.

A complete list of regular hours at all GRPL branches is available through the library’s website.


ArtPrize adding locations beyond downtown for 2021 event

ArtPrize is expanding beyond downtown Grand Rapids for its 2021 event, it announced last week, with four new satellite locations in other communities across the city.

Spanning Sept. 16 through Oct. 3 this year, ArtPrize 2021 will host its international art competition at the additional spaces of Campau Park on the city’s southwest side, the Creston neighborhood on the northeast, and on the southeast, Garfield Park and Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation.

The new spaces are on top of ArtPrize’s traditional three-mile radius downtown.

"You don’t have to be directly downtown to engage in this year’s artwork," Kati Molhoek, ArtPrize Communications Assistant, said in an Aug. 25 blog post. "In fact, we encourage you to venture out of the downtown area to our satellite locations and check out the ways they will be activating their space before and during ArtPrize."

This year’s ArtPrize marks its first run since 2018. The competition had moved to an every-other-year schedule to start in 2020, until its pandemic-related cancellation.

While this year’s ArtPrize will be its first to feature artwork exhibited beyond downtown Grand Rapids, its citywide art project in 2019 –  Project 1  – involved commissioned work taking place on the city’s southeast and southwest sides.

Events are also planned for the competition’s satellite locations. Details are available on ArtPrize’s blog.


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