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Avenue for the Arts to celebrate emerging local artists in First Friday event

November's First Friday event will showcase Kendall College students at Spiral Gallery on South Division.
First Fridays on Division

First Fridays on Division /Courtesy of Avenue for the Arts

Underwriting support from:

Practice makes perfect

With 23 open galleries and businesses participating along the Avenue for the Arts during First Friday it might be hard to figure out where to start!

Check the event invitation for up-to-date details and events, the Avenue for the Arts website for a detailed map or just head down to South Divsion, between Fulton and Wealthy Streets, on November 6th from 6:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m. 

First Fridays on Division

First Fridays on Division /Courtesy of Avenue for the Arts

First Fridays on Division

First Fridays on Division /Courtesy of Avenue for the Arts

For over a decade, The Avenue for the Arts has played a critical role in providing artists with various opportunities to showcase. Events tailored to provide artists with the opportunity to display their artwork include Art Downtown, November’s First Friday formerly known as Free Radical, and monthly First Friday events. First Friday events occur monthly and as a result, art galleries, curators and businesses are constantly seeking out artists and show proposals. A First Friday event typically consists of galleries, restaurants, shops, live music and mural paintings. There are many features to consider and think about when developing an art show.

A gallery that helps student artists learn about developing an art show is Spiral Gallery located at 44 S. Division. For the fifth time, Spiral will display work from Kendall College of Art and Design’s professional practices class, which features artwork from 14 students from the Fall 2015 semester and is entitled "Instinct." KCAD painting professor, Steven Vinson, who is also the owner and curator of Spiral, has several ideas for providing KCAD students with the opportunity to show their artwork in the space.

“The sooner a student can take part in the development and production of a gallery show, the better their own artwork will become,” says Vinson. "Another benefit in providing the time and space for the exhibition is the experience each student gains in other aspects of facilitating a show.” He gives examples as “labels, artist statement, vinyl signage, promotions, lighting, curating and use of proper hanging hardware.” During an interview with, Olivia Timmons, printmaking professor KCAD, she expressed the importance of the professional practices course, which assists students in creating a professional portfolio, a specific terminology she uses, of documents that help students present themselves “professionally as artists.”

"It’s incredibly important as visual artists to get feedback from others, their peers, and from people outside of their community,” says Timmons. This is the purpose of the "Instinct" exhibition and the theme of November's First Friday. 

For many art professionals, handcraft makers, emerging artists and art students, the work they are doing is forever evolving and changing. This upcoming First Friday the Avenue is aiding these individuals by pairing specific participating venues with a practicing professional that will then come in and provide feedback about curation and/or artists’ artwork. The discussions are tailored around the needs of each particular location. It will also provide artists and curators interaction with professionals outside of their own creative community.

There are many great venues along the Avenue for the Arts and, when united, the venues encompass a larger arts community within Grand Rapids, Michigan. As you walk along the Avenue on November 6th from 6:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m., take the time to examine and witness the various artistic formats that will further provide a thought provoking, learning experience.

Particiapting sites include:


The Avenue for the Arts is a neighborhood title for the South Division commercial corridor. We are residential, commercial and nonprofit groups working together in a creative community. We are residents in Heartside, and active participants in shaping change in our neighborhood. In 2005, we chose the Avenue for the Arts as a title to represent our commercial corridor and the projects and events that we create. Because the Avenue is powered by volunteers, guest writers create our Rapidian content. Special thanks to Brian Howland for writing this month's article. Artist and longboarding philosopher Brian Howland was born in Grand Rapids Michigan. A current junior level student at Kendall College of Art and Design that through that through his artwork presents narratives based on modern-day inequality simultaneously juxtaposed with historical imagery and memories.

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