VMA Alums working to maintain the arts scene in Grand Rapids alive 365 days a year
October 04, 2017
In a recent piece written by Jackie Vega for the local news outlet The Rapidian, people can see the efforts of many volunteers to keep the arts thriving in downtown Grand Rapids. Since 2005, a little stretch of road south of Division Avenue with residential, commercial and nonprofit groups work together to develop and maintain a creative community. They are residents in Heartside, and active participants in shaping change in our neighborhood. Titled Avenue for The Arts, the program now offers a monthly workshop series, community engagement conversations, vending opportunities, and much more.
And in the many businesses cited in the article are two run by VMA alumns. Dime and Regal is owned and run by Courtney Jones (BFA, Visual Studies.) At her store, Courtney sells handmade goods made by local artisans and designers. When one walks into the place, one finds jewelry, accessories, homewares, gifts, and more. Dime & Regal was born by necessity after Jones was let go of her job. What started as a single-person operation selling scarves, candles and jewelry now is an affordable space for emerging artists and designers to connect their products with the community. For this year's ArtPrize, Jones curated "Growing Sentiments", featuring her work alongside Hallie Blanc and Bill Hosterman, Associate Professor of Printmaking.
One of the newer additions to the Avenue, Studio Us, is a design agency ran by Bree and Ross Tanner (BFAs, Graphic Design). The two of them specialize in brand identity, user experience, print design and photography. Recently moved into the corridor, the two immediately connected with the Avenue, bringing variety and a valuable skillset for the neighboring businesses. And the two have already offered their renovated space with its exposed brick walls and hardwood floors to the arts. For ArtPrize this year, they hosted "Unexpected Pleasures", an exhibition featuring the works of Jewelry and Metal Students at the Visual and Media Arts Department.
Not mentioned in the article but a vital piece to the functioning of the Avenue For the Arts is GVSU alumna Jenn Schaub (BFA, Printmaking). Schaub serves as event coordinator and writes grants to help support the extensive event list the organization offers year-round. As an artist herself, Jenn wants to provide more opportunities for artists to sell their work and becoming agents of change in the downtown core of the city.