Fall Arts Celebration 2015

Events spotlight diverse art, scholastics

by Matthew Makowski

Grand Valley has a rich history of providing events and programs for the community centered on the arts.

This passion for the arts began with a desire by President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers to transform Grand Valley into a liberal arts epicenter.

Jean Enright, former executive assistant to the president and the first Fall Arts Celebration coordinator, said in 2003 then-President Mark Murray saw an opportunity to build on Lubbers’ passion and collectively promote the arts at Grand Valley.

“He noticed we had so many arts and cultural events, and we agreed that we should combine them under one heading and let the community know that Grand Valley is the place to celebrate the arts in the fall,’” Enright said.

With that epiphany, Fall Arts Celebration was born.

“Fall Arts Celebration was always planned as a gift back to the communities that support Grand Valley,” said Teri Losey, current Fall Arts Celebration chair and executive associate to the president. “It has become more prominent and distinguished over the years, and the coordinators are always working on ways to make it bigger and better.”

Since its inception, Fall Arts Celebration has featured some of the foremost writers, poets, musicians, dancers, artists and scholars. This tradition continues this year with six free events that are open to the public.

Art Gallery Exhibition

For the first time in the history of Fall Arts Celebration, the featured artwork for this exhibition is so large that it cannot be solely housed at Grand Valley.

Henry Matthews, director of Galleries and Collections, said once his team secured the traveling exhibition, they were faced with a couple of options due to the large size of the 32-piece art collection.

One option was to leave the excess artwork in storage, an alternative was to find a community partner with whom to share the exhibition.

Art Gallery Exhibition Dusk to Dusk: Unsettled, Unraveled, Unreal

Art Gallery Exhibition: “Dusk to Dusk: Unsettled, Unraveled, Unreal”

Opting for the latter, half of “Dusk to Dusk: Unsettled, Unraveled, Unreal” will be shown at Grand Valley, while the remaining pieces will be showcased at the De Pree Art Center and Gallery at Hope College in Holland. The exhibit, consisting of paintings, drawings, sculptures, photography and video art, comes to West Michigan from the private collection of art enthusiasts in the Netherlands who wish to remain anonymous.

Matthews added that this exhibition of contemporary art will provide a unique opportunity.

“This is very high-end, international art and this is an opportunity for visitors to see artwork that might not normally come to West Michigan. We are very lucky to spotlight an exhibit of art at this level,” Matthews said.    

“Dusk to Dusk” was organized by the Samek Art Gallery at Bucknell University, curated by Richard Rinehart, director of the Samek Art Gallery, with works generously loaned from the Ekard Collection. The exhibition is toured by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Pasadena, California.


Distinguished Academic Lecturer: Kip Thorne

The 2014 film, “Interstellar,” explores the idea of traveling across time and galaxies via wormholes in space.

An expert in the relation of space and time is this year’s Distinguished Academic Lecturer. Kip Thorne is a theoretical physicist whose research has focused on Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, as well as astrophysics with an emphasis on wormholes, time travel, relativistic stars, black holes and gravitational waves. 

The Einstein Medal winner served as an executive producer for “Interstellar” and co-authored "The Science of Interstellar," which explores the physics behind the movie.

Formerly a faculty member at Caltech from 1967-2009, Thorne has since transitioned into a career of writing and filmmaking. His lecture at Grand Valley will discuss the marriage of visual arts and scientific discovery.

“Bringing together the visual arts with cutting-edge science will raise all sorts of topics and the kinds of questions that Grand Valley’s integrative approach to liberal education is wonderfully situated to answer,” said Fred J. Antczak, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Kip Thorne

Distinguished Academic Lecturer Kip Thorne: “Discovery and Collaboration”


Faculty Artistry Gems: Recognizing Grand Valley Music Faculty

While Grand Valley students have historically been featured during the Fall Arts Celebration music event, Danny Phipps, chair of the Music and Dance Department, said this year faculty members will receive the spotlight.

“People see our faculty in performances on campus and in the community, but they don’t really understand the scope of how nationally known some of these educators are,” Phipps said.

The evening will begin with the Lighthouse Brass Quintet, featuring Richard Stoelzel, professor of trumpet.

“Richard has brought terrific credit to the music program,” Phipps said. “His students have won international and national competitions and our trumpet ensembles have been recognized at all the major trumpet festivals and events.”

Bill Ryan, director of Grand Valley’s New Music Ensemble, will also be honored through a masterful rendition of his composition, “Simple Lines,” performed by Pablo Mahave-Veglia, associate professor of cello. For the past 20 years, Ryan has been a tireless advocate of contemporary music. As a composer, conductor, producer and educator, he has engaged diverse audiences throughout the country with his work.


Music quartet

Music: “Faculty Artistry Gems! Recognizing GVSU Music Faculty Performances in the Community”


The celebration of faculty artistry will end with the Donald Sinta Quartet, featuring Dan Graser, assistant professor of saxophone. The quartet has quickly achieved international acclaim for their recitals, concerto performances, memorized presentations and championing of the latest collections from emerging young composers.


An Evening of Poetry

When choosing authors to feature during Poetry Night, Patricia Clark, Writing Department chair, said authors must meet an “excellence criteria” consisting of crowd engagement, the use of fresh and vibrant language, and deep material introspection.

“With poetry, you really want to hear it live. It’s a lot like reading a play. Do you really want to read a play? No, you want to go and see it live on stage,” Clark said. “This is very similar to poetry. You want to hear the poet read his or her work.”

Clark said this year’s poets, Kwame Dawes and Aimee Nezhukumatathil, personify her criteria.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Kwame Dawes

Kwame Dawes

Born in Ghana in 1962, Dawes spent most of his childhood and early adult life in Jamaica. As a writer of 16 collections of poetry, as well as fiction, nonfiction and plays, Dawes is heavily influenced by the rhythms and textures of songs cherished during his youth, including reggae music. His book, "Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius," is currently the most authoritative study of the lyrics of the late musician.

Dawes is currently the Glenna Luschei editor of "Prairie Schooner" at the University of Nebraska, where he is a Chancellor’s Professor of English.

Nezhukumatathil is the author of three books of poetry: "Lucky Fish" (2011), "At the Drive-In Volcano" (2007) and "Miracle Fruit" (2003). "Lucky Fish" won the gold medal in poetry for the 2011 Independent Publishers Book Awards, and was featured in the New York Times and on the PBS NewsHour “Art Beat." Nezhukumatathil is an associate professor of English at the State University of New York in Fredonia.


Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers

This year’s dance event will feature one of the foremost contemporary Asian-American dance companies in the U.S.

Based in Philadelphia, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers will present an evening of dance set to music composed by Grand Valley alumnus Dan Rhode, ’12, and performed by Grand Valley’s award-winning New Music Ensemble.

The internationally renowned Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers integrate body, spirit and mind into their dances while inviting audiences to engage in their own journeys of self-discovery.

Phipps said the group takes some of the more movement-oriented Asian traditions, such as martial arts or Tai Chi, and creates a language that follows musical and other choreographic ideals.

“It’s a coming together of disparate things in music to create a single unified sound, together with the disparate nature of athletic-based movements,” Phipps said.



Dance Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers

Dance: Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers

Holiday Celebration featuring Holiday Music from Europe

Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Magnificat” has become etched in the history books as one of the holiday season’s most enduring musical classics. It was composed after Bach took a new position of employment at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany, specifically for a Christmas performance in 1723.

The voices of the Grand Valley's Arts Chorale will bring Bach’s cantata to modern audiences to enjoy during the holiday season as Fall Arts Celebration concludes at Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids.

This holiday gift to the West Michigan community will also feature the iconic sounds of the GVSU Varsity Men’s Chorus singing melodies of Europe’s most beloved holiday music.

Holiday Celebration: Stille Nact: A Celebration of Holiday Music from Europe

Holiday Celebration: “Stille Nacht: A Celebration of Holiday Music from Europe”


For more information about all of this year’s Fall Arts Celebration events, visit www.gvsu.edu/fallarts or call (616) 331-2185.


• Art Gallery Exhibition
“Dusk to Dusk: Unsettled, Unraveled, Unreal”
Opening reception, Thursday, September 10, 5-7 p.m.; Performing Arts Center
Exhibition dates: August 28-October 31

Faculty Artistry Gems
Monday, September 21, 7:30 p.m.; Performing Arts Center
Performance preceded by carillon concert from 7-7:20 p.m.
• Poetry Night: “An Evening of Poetry and Conversation with Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Kwame Dawes”
Thursday, October 15, 7 p.m.; Eberhard Center
Reading followed by book signing and reception
• Dance: Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers
Monday, November 2, 7:30 p.m.; Performing Arts Center
Performance preceded by Carillon concert from 7-7:20 p.m., with reception following

• Distinguished Academic Lecturer: Kip Thorne
Monday, November 16, 7 p.m.; Eberhard Center
Lecture followed by book signing and reception
• Holiday Celebration: “Stille Nacht: A Celebration of Holiday Music from Europe”
Monday, December 7, 7:30 p.m.; Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids

All Fall Arts Celebration events are free and open to the public. Seating is limited for these popular performances.


Page last modified January 24, 2017