The Rapidian

Pushing Boundaries with Free Radical 2014

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

Unlike ArtPrize, Free Radical won’t have all the frills of the large glitzy event, but will stay genuine in its nature to showcase local work, a priceless integrity to the community.
Free Radical 2013 @ UICA

Free Radical 2013 @ UICA /Ashlee Lambart

Event Details

Who: Avenue for the Arts

What: Free Radical 2014

Where: Along South Division between Fulton and Williams // Artprize's HUB

When: November 7th from 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM Along South Division ave & November 14th from 6:00 - 10:00 PM at ArtPrize's HUB.

Free Radical 2013 @ (106) Gallery

Free Radical 2013 @ (106) Gallery

"Limitless Space Opening" Free Radical 2013 at Shen Dojo

"Limitless Space Opening" Free Radical 2013 at Shen Dojo /Brandon Lake

With ArtPrize wrapped up, there’s jovial wonderment for the arts lingering that filled the streets and a community brought together, but the excitement of ArtPrize will become merely a fleeting, ephemeral moment for most in little time. Luckily there is a way to surround yourself with local culture and art beyond ArtPrize with the Free Radical. The yearly event which takes place in late autumn is the culmination of creativity and community spirit for many local artists.

The Free Radical Gallery started in 2000 on Wealthy Street as part of a grant based initiative, The Wealthy Mainstreet Program, founded by artist Mark Rumsey, which utilized vacant storefronts to display artwork in order to breathe life back into the Wealthy Street Business District. In 2003 the Free Radical moved to South Division where it evolved. Years later we can see the influences and effects that art and community have on this vibrant district, just by walking down the street where at any point you’ll most likely see year round public art, galleries, and creative small businesses. Though much of the spirit of the event remains, the idea and form of Free Radical has been molded and reshaped over the years. Unlike ArtPrize, Free Radical won’t have all the frills of the large glitzy event, but will stay genuine in its nature to showcase local work, a priceless integrity to the community.

This year, the event takes place solely on South Division Avenue and focuses on businesses, galleries, and empty spaces along The Avenue for the Arts, which have all been fundamental aspects of Free Radical in previous years. The event and much of the art will focus on the idea of pushing boundaries as artists and a creative community. With a theme such as this, it will encourage artists to step out of their comfort zone and create interesting, thought provoking work in new ways. With a solid set of curatorial proposals embodying the idea of pushing limits, the event will surely show work that creates a dialog that’ll be remembered. Free Radical will allow local artists to alter conventional methods of creating and idea making, while showcasing a full spectrum of art. As always, the event will strive to use underutilized, vacant, and alternative spaces to display work as a tool to embrace the diverse landscape of the street.

The beauty of the event comes from how inclusive and welcoming it is for both artists and the public to become participatory in creating a meaningful experience. There is always open doors for artists who want to display their work for Free Radical. Currently Parliament the Boutique, a fiber and leather goods shop on division headed by local artist Elyse Welcher, is looking for artists for their show Pure Michigan Holiday. “We are looking for work related to Michigan or inspired by our lovely home state.”, says Welcher. The work chosen for the show will be carried throughout the holiday season. Highest consideration for the show will be given to work that is giftable or tactile. Interests should be sent to [email protected] and should include a statement, images of your work, and a link to your website.

But Free Radical is more than just the work of an artist, and it’s success comes from many aspects of the event. It allows creative people to also curate and document the work of others, taking on different key roles to make an enriching experience for everyone. Curators will use their ideas to create a cohesive selection of work from a variety of artists, and documenters will showcase what they experienced during Free Radical and create a representation of that, whether it be by photographs, a zine, a poster, a poem, etc. Like last year, the event is split into two nights. The first night is much of what the Free Radical has always been, a night of exploring art and the spaces that make up the Avenue for the Arts. The second night, which shifts from S. Division Avenue to ArtPrize’s HUB, will feature an evening of discussions relating to the first nights event, a public critique, and will spotlight the work of the documenter.   


The inclusive event will happen during the Avenue for the Art’s First Friday’s and is something you surely won’t want to miss. With live music, extended business hours, and plenty of nearby local eateries, there is something for everyone. Come experience the magic (and hard work of many) that is Free Radical. Make sure you mark your calendars! The first night of Free Radical will take place on S. Division Ave between Fulton and Williams in the heartside neighborhood on November 7th, from 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm. The second night, Free Radical - The Conversations happens the following friday evening a block away at ArtPrize’s HUB, 41 Sheldon Ave., Grand Rapids MI, from 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm. For more information, please check out or our facebook page!

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 choose 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 Ryan Wyrick, Avenue member and resident for his coverage of Free Radical

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