Just when I thought I couldn’t have any more fun in Grand Rapids, I attended the Opening of the new UICA building (Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts). It was smashing party aptly called The Odd Ball.
Full disclosure here. I’m on the board of this innovative and creative arts organization in Grand Rapids, none-the-less I feel pretty comfortable with saying it was a pretty amazing event, especially for this solidly conservative midwestern city.
In fact, I repeatedly heard from friends who raved about the event that they “felt like they were in New York or San Francisco.” It was definitely not a pigs in the blanket and wooden shoe-dancing affair.
The party committee blew up and attached hundreds of pink plastic beach balls to the outside walls, grabbing attention long before guests reached the entrance and were handed pink champagne in a pink can. Other creative folks painted pink swirls and big balls on the sidewalk. I liked the way one pink circle of paint combined with shadow from a tree on the sidewalk.
The ambiance committee fashioned seven large chandeliers out of plastic pink cups and hung them hung dramatically in the long runway between the lobby and gallery space. I think this made it hard to tell where “Art” stopped and “Décor” began.
Entertainment included a dj playing the soles o f shoes and an exotic and talented musician performing on an electric violin while an acrobat swirled up and down the two story space on a large drape of fabric, Cirque du Soleil style.
Dancers performed on cubes while guests enjoyed a creative new space filled with interesting and thought provoking art. Large walls were painted by artists to be covered over with fresh work for ArtPrize, emphasizing the idea that contemporary art can be fleeting. Carpe Diem.
Refreshments included tasty morsels from the best local eateries and lots of desserts served in what will become the uica ceramics studio. My fav were the cake pops served on (real) grass-covered table.
Meandering through the party were models and actors, dressed to shock, delight and astound. Part of the entertainment, they held the ribbon for the cutting by major donors and then paraded about through the festive space. The 500 guests mixed and mingled, examined the art, surveyed the building, enjoying a Monday night in the city. How stimulating and fun to be a part of such a vibrant happening.
If you attended this party, please share your thoughts about it in the comment section. I’d love to know what you liked best.