Saturday, June 6, 2009

La Grand Vitesse

Fresh on the heels of last night's debauched ride/bachelor party for "Van Candy" Dan, there's a lot going on this weekend.

For starters the Western Chapter of the MMBA has organized a trail work dat at Luton Park. The plan is build 1-2 miles of new trail this weekend. The trail network at Luton is quickly becoming a local gem. Check it out.

The Hanson Hills Challenge is Sunday June 7. Hanson has long been one of the best XC events of the Michigan racing calendar.

There's a skinny tire highway bike race this weekend too. The Duck Lake Time Trial is Sunday.

The biggest event of the weekend is the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts. Here everyone refers to it simply as "Festival." If you've been craving Elephant Ears (funnel cake) cruise downtown this weekend to the Calder Plaza. But don't ride your bike. The police have been ticketing and harassing cyclists downtown for years during Festival weekend. Amazingly, after 40 years of closing the center of the city to cars one weekend every summer the powers that be still don't get it when it comes to bikes.

The center piece of Festival every year is one of Alexander Calder's pieces which resides in downtown Grand Rapids. The sculpture was the first piece of public art commissioned with public monies via the National Endowment of the Arts. While the sculpture is classic Calder, few of the locals even know that it has a name, "La Grand Vitesse." Around these parts most folks just call it "The Calder."

For a small city there is a lot of art in Grand Rapids. There's a brand new Art Museum. There's the sculpture park at the Fred Meijer Gardens, which is hosting a Calder exhibition that focuses on La Grand Vitesse. There's also the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, as well as Kendall College of Art and Design. Despite all of those institutions, it's Calder's sculpture that has become a visual icon for the city. So much so that it appears on everything, including the city's logo and flag.

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