Art in Bloom

A photograph of a large, colorful floral arrangement on a pedestal next to a work of art hanging on the wall in the galleries at GRAM, with a madonna and child figure surrounded by a floral wreath.2019 Art in Bloom entry by floral designer Hayley Hungerford of Hyssop Floral

Art in Bloom

March 19, 2021 – March 21, 2021

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Level III

Art in Bloom is a bi-annual, one-weekend-only exhibition that celebrates the combined beauty of art and floral design. Visitors are invited to tour the galleries and enjoy extravagant floral sculptures inspired by works from the Museum’s permanent collection created by some of the region’s most talented floral designers. These floral sculptures emphasize, challenge, and build upon elements and concepts within the original work of art, creating an extraordinary dialogue between the two pieces.

See photos from past Art in Bloom exhibitions

Participating Floral Artists

Coming soon

If you’re interested in participating as a floral designer in Art in Bloom 2021, please reach out to Christopher Bruce, Director of Learning and Creativity, at cbruce@artmuseumgr.org.

Hand and Machine in Harmony: Regional Arts & Crafts

A photograph of fifteen brooches with various semiprecious stones in them, laid out on a wooden surface.Collection of Brooches made by Forest Craft Guild of Grand Rapids, active 1905–1914. Private Collection.

Hand and Machine in Harmony: Regional Arts & Crafts

October 24, 2020 – January 23, 2021

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Second Floor, Hunting Gallery

This exhibition will be presented in two parts:
West Michigan (October 24, 2020-January 23, 2021)
The Midwest (February 13-April 24, 2021)

At the turn of the 20th century, Grand Rapids was a city dominated by the furniture industry. In 1903 it was home to ten thousand skilled woodworkers who worked in forty furniture and home décor factories. Its designers and manufacturers were eager to sweep away the past and create a modern style for a new century. This exhibition introduces the work of two important Grand Rapids manufacturers, Charles P. Limbert of the Charles P. Limbert Company and Albert Stickley of the Stickley Brothers Company, both of whom embraced and reinterpreted the ideals of the English Arts and Crafts Movement. Accompanying the work by Limbert and Stickley is metalwork created by the Forest Craft Guild, based in Grand Rapids and established by artist and craftsman Forrest Mann.

The Arts and Crafts aesthetic was characterized by simple, rectilinear forms that valued function over decoration. The heavy embellishment and gilded surfaces of the past century were replaced with clean lines, non-precious materials, and organic form and color. The Arts and Crafts movement emerged in England in the mid-19th century out of concern over the negative effects of the industrial revolution and the loss of traditional handcraftsmanship. While these British designers cautioned against machine production, American designers, like Limbert and Stickley, saw an opportunity to merge the fine craftsmanship and style of the English Arts and Crafts movement with factory production. By creating a harmony between machine production and handwork, Limbert and Stickley produced furniture that was well-made, beautifully designed, and available and affordable to the middleclass.

Artist, metalworker, and educator Forrest Mann was pivotal in bringing the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement to Grand Rapids. He founded the Grand Rapids Arts and Craft Society in 1902, where he taught classes in wood carving, jewelry making, and ceramics. He then founded the Forest Craft Guild of craftworkers in 1905. Organizations of craftworkers, like the Forest Craft Guild, worked closely with the city’s furniture companies. The Guild is believed to be responsible for the lampshades produced by both the Stickley Brothers and Limbert companies and its members were likely commissioned to create other handwrought metalwork for Stickley and Limbert’s designs. The Guild produced and sold work in silver, gold, copper and brass, some with semi-precious stones, including a wide range of jewelry, desk sets, trays, candlesticks, lamp shades, leather purses, jewelry boxes and “various other things in which the opportunity for originality and artistic handiwork is to be found”.

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In Their Own Words

A black and white photograph by Gordon Parks, which depicts a woman standing in front of an American flag, holding a broom in one hand and a mop in the other.Gordon Parks (American, 1912–2006). American Gothic, 1942. Gelatin silver print on paper, 11 ¾ x 8 3/8 inches. Grand Rapids Art Museum, Museum Purchase, 2006.60.

In Their Own Words

August 20, 2020 – December 5, 2020

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First Floor, Secchia Lobby Gallery

When artists speak about their own work they often give unique insight into their creative process. In Their Own Words is an installation of works from GRAM’s Permanent Collection including photographs, prints, and drawings, created by artists in Europe, Mexico, and the United States. Individual works or multiple works by a single artist are accompanied by quotes or statements by that artist.

Featured Artists
Dawoud Bey
Paul Collins
Jess Dugan
The Guerilla Girls
Joseph Hirsch
Walter Iooss
Käthe Kollwitz
Jacob Lawrence
Marisol
José Clemente Orozco
Gordon Parks
Fritz Scholder
Carrie Mae Weems
Charles Wilbert White

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Mathias J. Alten: An Enduring Legacy 

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Mathias J. Alten: An Enduring Legacy 

October 24, 2020 – April 24, 2021

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Painter Mathias J. Alten is one of Grand Rapids’ most esteemed and beloved figures. In the early to mid-20th century, Alten was nationally recognized for his landscapes, still lifes, and portraits that drew on traditional European painting as well as more contemporary styles, like Impressionism. Alten emigrated from Germany to Michigan as a young man, settling with his family in Grand Rapids in 1889, where he lived for the rest of his life. Drawn from regional art collections both institutional and private, this exhibition celebrates Alten’s ongoing legacy on the 150th anniversary of his birth.

As an immigrant to this country, Alten worked hard to establish himself in a new homeland. In the decades leading up to the 20th century, the United States experienced rapid economic and urban growth, driven by industrialization and immigration. Alten was part of this wave of new immigrants, drawn to Michigan by lumber production and the many factories and jobs it supported. His first work in Grand Rapids, at the age of seventeen, was as a furniture decorator in local factories. He continued to seek opportunities to further his artistic skills and took on local commissions to decorate public buildings. Desiring to become a professional artist, he took painting lessons and painted whenever and wherever he could, even while running his father-in-law’s paint and wallpaper store. In 1899, Alten established a studio and school in downtown Grand Rapids with another local artist. He went on to widely exhibit and sell his paintings, and to become one of the region’s most respected—and successful—artists.

The breadth of Alten’s artistic approaches and interests across his career are reflected in the range of paintings and other works on view in the exhibition. There are family portraits and self-portrait studies, floral still lifes, mural-sized allegorical works created for public spaces, and scenes of the natural world, for which he is best known. Included are highlights from GRAM’s permanent collection, the Grand Valley State University Art Gallery, the Grand Rapids Public Library, and rarely seen works from private collections.

Support for this exhibition is generously provided by:
Wege Foundation
The Meijer Foundation
Anita M. Gilleo
Gregory and Rajene Betz
James and Mary Nelson
Allen and Nancy Vander Laan
Greg and Meg Willit
Mary Loupee
Jane and John Meilner
brightly
Burr & Company
Robert Daverman, AIA / Grand Rapids Community Foundation
Eenhoorn, LLC.
Haworth, Inc.
Dirk and June Hoffius
Miner S. and Mary Ann Keeler Foundation
Hank and Liesel Meijer
Progressive AE

Lead Exhibition Society Sponsor:

Additional support provided by the Friends of Alten: Anita Carter, Phillip and Julie Croll, Drake Quinn Family Foundation, George H. and Barbara Gordon, Inta Grace, J.C. and Tammy Huizenga, Birgit M. Klohs and Greg Northrup, Wallson and Rebecca Knack, Stephanie Naito, Doug and Nancy Padnos, Ruth Posthumus and Marlin Feyen, Daniel L. and Ellen VanderMey, Frank and Sharon Van Haven.

Additional funding provided by GRAM Exhibition Society. Listing as of print date.

Related Events:

American Perspectives: Stories from the American  Folk Art  Museum 

A handmade quilt that is made of stitched-together panels and reads 'FREEDOM'Jessie B. Telfair (1913 – 1986) Freedom Quilt, 1983. Parrott, Georgia, United States. Cotton, with pencil, 74 x 68 inches. Collection of American Folk Art Museum, New York , Gift of Judith Alexander in loving memory of her sister, Rebecca Alexander, 2004.9.1 . Photo by Gavin Ashworth, New York.

American Perspectives: Stories from the American  Folk Art  Museum 

May 22, 2021 – August 28, 2021

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American Perspectives: Stories from the American  Folk Art  Museum tells the unfolding story of America, from its inception to the present, through the work of American folk artists. Folk artists, sometimes referred to as self-taught artists, are individuals whose talents emerged from personal experience rather than formal training. Their creations are beautiful, diverse, truthful, often utilitarian, and rooted in their individual heritage or community.

The exhibition features over 70 folk art objects, from paintings and pottery, to quilts, needlework, and sculpture.  These fascinating artworks span the entirety of our nation’s history, offering firsthand testimony to the people, places, and events of our culture. The exhibition reveals both the diversity and similarity of the American experience across time and place. It reinforces how many of our society’s current issues—immigration, political turmoil, economic uncertainty, and loss of personal liberties—have been concerns in the past. Visitors will see the vital role that  folk art  plays as material evidence of American history. The artworks broaden our understanding of the United States, expanding upon and personalizing our national narrative. It gives voice to individuals outside the social mainstream. Many of the works present the perspectives of marginalized groups, such as enslaved people, immigrants, and people with disabilities.

The works are organized into four sections—Founders, Travelers, Philosophers, and Seekers—that respond to such themes as nationhood, freedom, community, imagination, opportunity, and legacy.

The exhibition is organized by the American Folk Art Museum, New York, with support provided by Art Bridges.

Art bridges Logo

Talent Within: Art by GRAM Docents

GRAM Docent in the corner of a gallery discussing artwork with several guests. 

Talent Within: Art by GRAM Docents

August 13, 2020 – August 15, 2020, All Day Event

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As a visitor to GRAM, you may have enjoyed a tour led by one of our dedicated docents, but did you know many of the Museum’s docents are also artists in their own right? 

Explore Talent Within: Art by GRAM Docents and view a selection of artwork created by 17 of the Museum’s talented docents. The exhibition will feature both 2D and 3D works of art, and guests will learn about the inspiration behind and creation of the pieces on display in this unique collection. 

Talent Within will be on view during Discovery Day at GRAM on Saturday, August 15.

An Interwoven Legacy: The Black Ash Basketry of Kelly Church and Cherish Parrish

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An Interwoven Legacy: The Black Ash Basketry of Kelly Church and Cherish Parrish

Coming in 2021

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Please note: Due to COVID-19 and other related circumstances, the Museum has decided to postpone An Interwoven Legacy: The Black Ash Basketry of Kelly Church and Cherish Parrish, previously scheduled to open on December 5, 2020. Our team is working with the artists to determine new dates for the exhibition, and we will provide updates via our regular communication channels. We look forward to presenting the exhibition in 2021 and appreciate your understanding.

Artists Kelly Church and Cherish Parrish both practice and expand the centuries-old Anishinabe tradition of black ash basketry. Church (b. 1967) and Parrish (b. 1989) are members of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band (Gun Lake Tribe). For their Michigan Artist Series exhibition at GRAM, this nationally acclaimed mother and daughter have created more than twenty new works, individually and collaboratively. Some of these are traditional baskets, while others are woven works of art that draw on Native history and storytelling to make striking parallels to universal issues and current events. The exhibition will include documentary elements illustrating the strenuous process of harvesting black ash trees and preparing the splints for basketmaking, as well as stories and background information from Church and Parrish about the works on view. For those unable to view the exhibition in person, there will be digital resources on GRAM’s website including installation images, photographs, and texts.

An Interwoven Legacy: The Black Ash Basketry of Kelly Church and Cherish Parrish also foregrounds the two artists’ other primary motivations: the importance of maintaining the basketmaking tradition within their culture and their advocacy for the black ash tree’s survival, which is being decimated by an invasive insect. These issues are critically important for people whose cultural survival depends on passing traditions on to the next generations, whether through language, ceremonies, or practices like basketry.

Church, Parrish, and their extended family come from an unbroken line of Black Ash basket makers. The Anishinabe originally made baskets purely for utility, weaving them in various sizes for carrying, collecting, and storing. As broader appreciation for Native baskets developed, the pairs’ ancestors began creating so-called “fancy” or decorative baskets as a way to bolster the tribal economy. Church and Parrish draw on these traditions and practices and also create more topical and experimental works. This exhibition powerfully demonstrates both their astonishing artistry and their urgent advocacy on behalf of Native traditions.

Support for GRAM’s Michigan Artist Series is generously provided by:

Beusse & Porter Family Foundation
Barnes & Thornburg LLP
The Jury Foundation
Progressive AE
Janet and Mark Nisbett

Additional exhibition support is provided by:

Wege Foundation
Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs
National Endowment for the Arts
Ken Betz and Pat Brewer
James and Mary Nelson
Greg and Meg Willit
Janet Gatherer Boyles and John Boyles
brightly
Robert Daverman, AIA / Grand Rapids Community Foundation
Eenhoorn, LLC.
Dr. Ronald and Mrs. Dawn Ford / Elite Plastic Surgery
Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, P.C.
Jeff Gurney and Xuesi Li Gurney
Haworth, Inc.
Kurt and Madelon Hassberger
Dirk and June Hoffius
Lizbeth S. O’Shaughnessy and Terry Rathbun
Donald and Ann Kelley
Susan and Jack Smith
Dorothy Williamson
Dr. Sandra and Mr. Warren Rempel
Frank and Sharon Van Haven
Phillip and Julie Croll
Stephanie Naito
Jane Timmer

Lead Exhibition Society Sponsor:

Additional funding provided by the GRAM Exhibition Society. Listing as of print date.

Related Events:

Beauty, Drama, and Nature: Ukiyo-e Prints from GRAM’s Collection

A woodblock Japanese print which depicts four men fighting as a woman looks on.Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Japanese, 1797–1861). Kanegafuchi no Yurai (History of Kanegafuchi), c. 1848 From the play Kaidan Sumidagawa. Color woodblock print on paper, 18 ½ x 22 ½ inches. Gift of James and Judy DeLapa, 2019.34

Beauty, Drama, and Nature: Ukiyo-e Prints from GRAM’s Collection

January 28, 2020 – December 5, 2020

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Level 3, Gallery 3

Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints have influenced artists throughout the world and continue to fascinate us today. Drawn from GRAM’s collection of Japanese works on paper, including a number of recent acquisitions, this exhibition explores the primary genres of ukiyo-e prints and their influence on Western art. Ukiyo-e literally means pictures of the floating or fleeting world and, as the name suggests, emphasized the impermanence and fleeting beauty of the world around us. These prints were first created in Tokyo during the Edo Period (1603–1868) and most frequently depicted the courtesans and famous Kabuki actors of the urban pleasure districts. Near the end of the period, Ukiyo-e artists celebrating the natural beauty of Japan’s landscape became increasingly popular. This exhibition explores the three primary genres of Ukiyo-e prints – female beauties (bijin-ga), kabuki actors (yakusha-e), and landscapes – while a fourth section shows the influence of these prints on European and American art of the 19th century and beyond.

Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue

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Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue

January 29, 2022 – May 1, 2022

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Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue brings together a focused selection of work from a period of over forty years by two of today’s most important and influential photo-based artists. Dawoud Bey and Carrie Mae Weems, both born in 1953, came of age during a period of dramatic change in the American social landscape. Since meeting at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1977, the two artists have been intellectual colleagues and companions. Over the following five decades, Bey and Weems have explored and addressed similar themes: race, class, representation, and systems of power, creating work that is grounded in specific African American events and realities while simultaneously speaking to universal human conditions. This exhibition, for the first time, brings their work together to shed light on their unique trajectories and modes of presentation, and their shared consciousness and principles.

From the outset of their careers, both Bey and Weems have operated from a deep social commitment to participate in, describe, and define culture. In seeking to express themselves fully, both artists have expanded possibilities within photography and video to address their chosen subjects. Each engaged in the material and conceptual developments in the art world that were gaining prominence beginning in the 1970s, just as their careers were developing. As Bey and Weems have continued to push their own work forward, their art and approach have inspired notable younger artists such as LaToya Ruby Frazier, Lyle Ashton Harris, Mickalene Thomas, and Hank Willis Thomas.

Both Bey and Weems create work in focused series that gives them opportunity to fully explore their complex and layered ideas. Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue is arranged in five sections that present the two artists’ work in thematic pairings, emphasizing both their mutual concerns and distinct artistic approaches.

Exhibition Tour

Following its presentation in Grand Rapids, Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue will be available to travel to other venues through 2023. Contact Chief Curator, Ron Platt, at rplatt@artmuseumgr.org for more information.

Dawoud Bey & Carrie Mae Weems: In Dialogue is organized by the Grand Rapids Art Museum

Useful Beauty: Design Highlights from the Permanent Collection

A wide photograph of the inside of a gallery with three different modern designed chairs on pedestals line the wall. Above the chairs hangs one work of art by Steve Frykholm of a colorful target-shaped print on the right, and seven textile sample swatches hang on the left. 

Useful Beauty: Design Highlights from the Permanent Collection

February 29, 2020 – October 31, 2020

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Level I

This exhibition highlights the beauty and creativity of modern design with a broad selection of decorative and functional objects drawn primarily from GRAM’s collection. Design inhabits our daily lives, in our homes, classrooms, work environments – anywhere there are objects created by human beings. This exhibition encourages deeper consideration of these familiar objects, prompting questions about the choices we make as consumers and the decisions made by designers, who strive to create designs that solve problems both practical and aesthetic, making the world around us more productive, efficient, and beautiful. The exhibition includes written contributions from a wide variety of individuals, including designers, those who intimately know particular objects, and others with enlightening opinions of the designs on view.

Many objects in the exhibition were given to GRAM by the Kravis Collection and are on view for the first time. The collection encompasses furniture, ceramics, glass, electronics, and other fascinating objects created for domestic or industrial use. George Kravis built a collection of over four thousand industrial and domestic design objects during his lifetime, with an emphasis on European and American design after 1930. Kravis, who passed away in 2018, believed in the mission of museums to collect design and make objects available to the public through exhibitions and educational programming. He expressed his wish that his collection be given to museums, such as GRAM, that would appreciate this vision. Kravis recognized West Michigan’s crucial role in the design and production of modern design and was particularly interested in making GRAM a beneficiary of his collection.

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