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First United Methodist’s Annual Celebration of the Arts Draws Spiritual Illumination

calvin225The Calvin College Gospel Choir will appear in concert on Sunday, Feb. 15 at 3 p.m.Depicting the sacred and spiritual on a canvas or with a sculpture proves never to be stale to the eyes for spectators who experience First United Methodist Church’s 13-day juried spiritual arts festival, Celebration of the Arts.

“Every year is different, and based on what is entered, the artists never disappoint,” said Eric Strand, First United Methodist’s director of music and the arts. “What the public sees is beautiful and provoking. It’s the kind of art that can illuminate and inspire and make us aware.”

First United Methodist is located in downtown Grand Rapids at 227 East Fulton Street. Admission to Celebration of the Arts is free and open to the public. It starts Feb. 6 and runs through Ash Wednesday, which this year is Feb. 18. Some of the days include music of a variety of genres, such as jazz, gospel and an organ concert.

One of the largest sacred art shows

Held annually since 1972, Celebration of the Arts has grown to represent one of the largest juried sacred art shows in the country that draws an annual average of 300-400 entries from local and regional artists that feature their creations in a variety of mediums including oils, acrylic, watercolor, sculpture, fiber, photography and more.

SacredCeremony225Of that number, one juror will select an average of 125 entries from which there will be first, second and third prizewinners as well as honorable mentions. This year’s judge is Edee Joppich, the curator, director, and artist in residence ofJoppich’s Bay Street Gallery in Northport, Mich. Her awards and honors include a fellowship in the International Society of Experimental Artists and a signature membership in the National Collage Society.

“We try to find a juror not right in the area so they don’t have too many local connections,” said Eric Strand, First United’s director of music and the arts.“We say to artists the art should have a spiritual or sacred quality but we do not specify what that is. So, we leave that notion open to a lot of mystery. It’s widely varied and includes interfaith expressions of what is sacred.”

Juror’s role is subjective

As a juror, Joppich’s task will not be easy in determining which artistic entries wins and which ones do not.

It’s very subjective and that’s typically an artistic tradition,” said Strand. “There’s not an objective way of determining these things. Provided is the juror’s statement that informs the artists of their decision, and they indicate in a statement what they found engaging. Being creative is sacred work. We emphasize the creative aspects of art and God and that is very mysterious.”

A special nonprofit exhibit is part of Celebration of the Arts, which this year is from the Heartside Neighborhood Association. The public also will get to view the church’s permanent collection.

Here’s a rundown of Celebration of the Arts schedule. All events are open to the public:

·         Artists’ Reception, Friday, Feb. 6 from 7-9 p.m. in the Wesley Hall. Includes Jazz, special desserts, and presentation of awards!

·         Celebration Sunday Worship, Sunday, Feb. 8 at 9:15 and 11 a.m. Guest preacher is Rev. Neil Davis, Senior Pastor of Hope United Methodist Church in Southfield, and will feature popular local jazz vocalist Edye Evans Hyde.

·         Celebration of the Arts Gallery Walk-Through, Sunday, Feb. 8 from 9:30 - 10:30 a.m., and Wednesday, Feb. 11 from noon-1:00 p.m. Adults are invited to experience the show through the special insight of Nancy Clouse, artist and retired faculty member from Grand Rapids Community College.

·         Scenes from a Gallery” Organ Concert featuring Eric Strand, Sunday, Feb. 8 at 3 p.m.Eric Strand, Director of Music and Arts, and guest musicians will present a concert on First Church’s restored four manual, 68 Rank Möller /Buck pipe organ.

·         “A Taste of Celebration”Saturday, Feb. 14 from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.Stroll the gallery and sample from tasting tables. Phil Pletcher will provide romantic piano music. Suggested donation: $3.00 per person.

·         Adoption Ministry Hoe Down, Saturday, Feb. 14 at 6:30-9 p.m.Family-friendly evening featuring music, dancing, snacks, raffles, and more to raise funds for the First Church Adoption Ministry.

·         Celebration Sunday Worship, Sunday, Feb. 15 at 9:15 and 11 a.m. Worship service features a Dixieland band presenting jazz music in the New Orleans tradition of Mardi Gras.

·         The Calvin College Gospel Choir in concert, Sunday, Feb. 15 at 3 p.m.

·         Ash Wednesday Service, Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.A solemn and reflective service marking the beginning of Lent.

For more information visit www.thecelebrationofthearts.com

Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
Author: Paul R. KopenkoskeyWebsite:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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