This June was the 40th anniversary of the dedication of Alexander Calder's La Grande Vitesse stabile in downtown Grand Rapids. It was controversial at the time it was commissioned. Apparently many in Grand Rapids didn't understand why money should be spent on something like art. Especially abstract art. But I love La Grande Vitesse. It's one of my favorite things about Grand Rapids. Here's a photo I took of it (not from the best angle) last year when we attended the Obama rally on Calder Plaza.
The Grand Rapids Art Museum has a Calder exhibit now (his jewelry is going to be on exhibit early next year--I can't wait to see that!), as well as an exhibit about Eliel and Eero Saarinen I wanted to see, so we went to the GRAM to check them out. I knew ahead of time that, sadly, budget constraints had caused the GRAM to cut back on the Saarinen exhibit...but it was still disappointing. It was just a few items (mostly from the permanent exhibit, that I'd already seen) and a running documentary. I'd toured the Saarinen home at Detroit's Cranbrook Academy with my friend Stephani last year, and it was amazing. If you are ever in Detroit, it's a must see--as is the whole Cranbrook campus--a beautiful arts and crafts home, and a fascinating tour inside the lives (and cocktail hours!) of the Saarinen family. (Eero Saarinen was the architect of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, of particular interest to me since my parents were wed in the chapel beneath it. If you ever get a chance to see the PBS documentary about it, The Gateway Arch: A Reflection of America, make sure you watch--it's completely fascinating.)
So the lack of Saarinen stuff was disappoining, but the selection of Calder paintings on display made up for it. The Calder mobile and animobile (which I think are on permanent display) are some of my favorite things in the GRAM, and I decided to have Andy get my picture by them. We weren't sure if we were allowed to, but the only signs up said not to TOUCH the art, and since we weren't going to use the flash...we went for it! Well. The guards must be trained to hear the whizzing of a digital camera being turned on, because the dude came running from the other side of the galleries. He was very nice about it, and Andy did manage to snap two photos, including this cool, shadowy, noir-ish one:
I do have a history of trouble with authority. Particularly museum authorities. See, I was almost thrown out of the Vatican Museum by Swiss Guards in college when I tried to take a photo. I don't mean to be a troublemaker; I guess I just get carried away by art.
The GRAM is quite lovely, by the way. They recently rebuilt it, and it's the first LEED Gold certified museum in the world (which basically means it's really green). Here's a photo I took from the side.
After the museum we had tapas at longtime favorite, San Chez. We always try to have something new when we go there, so we ordered some crazy calimari and bacon concoction, goat cheese with piquillo peppers, and albondigas (meatballs!). Here's Andy's beer and my caipirinha.
After dinner we decided to walk back toward the museum, where the last night of the summer's Blues on the Mall series was going on. I'd never been before. Well, the place was jam-packed with bikers. Wall to wall. For blocks. It was insane. The music, for some reason, sounded like Lite Jazz, so we left.
On our way out we ran into our friend, Mark, driving a couple of customers around in his pedicab!
Andy drives a pedicab for Mark on weekends. Sometime maybe Andy will do a guest blog post on a Pedicab Confessions theme. He has some pretty amazing tales of drunken girls. If you're ever in Grand Rapids and need a fun ride from one end of downtown to the other, call Green Machine Pedicabs. (It's Mark's birthday tomorrow. Happy birthday, Mark!)
We ended our evening at my favorite bar in Grand Rapids, the Meanwhile. Great jukebox, lots of local beers on tap (they always have my favorite, Bells Two-Hearted), Star Trek and Star Wars pinball games, and a backyard beer garden of perfection.
The Meanwhile is owned by the fabulous brother/sister team, Jeff and Tami VandenBerg. Jeff is a music promoter/record label owner, as well as an artist, as you can see from the excellent murals in the beer garden, which I absolutely love.
Um, waiter? There's a fly in my beer.
It was a lovely evening, and I now feel recharged and ready to take on more laundering, mending, ironing, photographing and listing! I think.