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This Week's Events

Connected: Our Declaration In So Few Minutes

What if there was an opportunity to explore (in a pretty visual way) an amazing journey of our history, from the Big Bang to the point where many of us find ourselves today connected to machines? First, this is something that I have no doubt you would expect from a series like Nova. But what if this adventure in our history could be delivered in just 80 minutes?
Would you go?
My guess, after watching the trailer for the autobiography/documentary Connected: A Declaration of Interdependence directed by Tiffany Shlain and discovering this film will debut at Wealthy Theatre as a part of the new fall film series from Mars Hill's Adding Angles, is maybe you should.
Let me make my case. Sure, you could assume this is a church hosting a film to lure you in to their web. However, having attended other films they have screened, I have come to enjoy both the films and the opportunity to converse after, as is the case with their film series.
And this fits nicely into where we are today; as technology invades our social spaces more and more, films, with their gentle reminders to shut off our phones (and not perform sneaky texting or endless checking of our social spaces) are maybe one of the last places on the planet where people do actually turn off their phones to be in the moment.
While Connected is probably not the greatest film ever made on this topic – she even hired a narrator to help tie this film together, as noted in her New York Times review – the film does offer a visual assault on the senses and forces the viewer to sift through a bevy of images and ideas.
The choice of this film for community discussion is a great one and hopefully one that will inspire not just those who adhere to religion but also to those who represent the world of sciences and art. It darts back and forth between the two spheres, begging us to ask the ultimate question: What is the meaning of life?
While we all know that one film won't have the answer, let's not miss a chance, at the start of a new series devoted to connectivity and technology, to hit pause on our devices and potentially glean some insight after sitting in 80 minutes of silence from our digital buddy, who is now, for the moment, bound and gagged safely in our coat pockets.

Middle West: Make Room, Here We Are

Opens Friday, Sept. 19, noon - 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
I have to admit that getting yet again another invite to an event that touts anything with the shape of a mitten, which at this point is code for hand-to-cheek slap, almost made me eye roll Middle West.
But then I read Middle West's tag line of "hard-earned style." Now I sat up and took notice -- and so should you -- of this very unique pop-up shop happening the weekend before ArtPrizers invade the sidewalks with their camera phones at the ready.
For starters, Ted Velie of Globe Vise and Truck offers a few key points to encourage you to add a stop at the Division Avenue location of this Michigan-friendly store.
First off, the shop really came to be in a wholly different fashion than most often do.  Instead of just choosing Michigan brands they could get easily, the team pooled their contact lists and reached for the stars both near and far.
The result is an eclectic mix of brands, from Haworth to Wolverine to the brand new tie maker from Grand Haven. There are more than 34 brands on offer in a shop that has been built to look like a modern urban apartment with a kitchen, a living room, and even a finely appointed closet.

Middle West has made space for brands like Detroit Wallpaper (last seen at UICA this summer), international artist Kelly Allen, and even Detroit Denim, who will be on site taking your measurements to make you a custom pair of jeans from their shop in Detroit – not some factory in China.
And that is the point: your acts of consumerism committed here do make an impact here. Michigan's history is built around the maker culture that spurred generations of growth, and that same maker spirit is on display here in a wonderful presentation meant to take the mystery out of selecting items for your residence or body. 
Velie even laughed when he said that they assigned personalities to the rooms they were creating, often arguing that "he would never have THAT in his apartment" to "I bet she would actually have a Pinterest page to capture her design ideas."
All this banter between a very creative team of local designers points to one fact as they scramble to "move in" this week: this is going to be an event you can experience in person or read about later. There will be no middle ground.
You can support the home team by buying any number of the items on site or place an order for the more custom things to be delivered to your front door … no matter where you call home.
Admission: Free

Alexis: Revealing More Than Skin This Time

The last few times that Alexis has hit the stage at Founders, it has been such a festive occasion that the heat from the ever-growing fans has risen to such incredible heights that band mate Dan Hurst's shirt seems to evaporate like water.
This steamy performance has come to be expected as fans often place bets in advance of when they think it will happen. (Not that we need a gimmick to see Alexis; it's just that when you least expect it, the unrespectable happens as well.)This is the case for the band on Saturday night.
Not only will the band be welcoming an all-star night with Alexis being joined on stage by Tunde Olaniran, Andre Obin, Millie and Jam at Founders Taproom stage (including a secret announcement from lead singer Matthew Forbush.), but the big reason for all this hoopla is the release of their long-awaited new album.
For starters, the show will kick off with a few of the band's favorites from the past before they dive head first into the fresh new material that many will be hearing for the very first time.
About half of the new album, Love or Temptation, was previewed over the last 18 months on stage as the band tried out new material live before Synthemesc Records unveils to the world the full version on October 7, including a 12 inch vinyl record of the release.
The band is really heating up the stages, not just here but in places like Detroit, where our local boys played for the DIY Street Fair to a roaring crowd.
So get there early if you crave a spot next to the stage. This show promises to be one of their biggest ever. 
Admission: $5.

ArtPrize: Big, Bold, and (definitely) Never Boring

September 24 - October 10
Love it or hate it, but the state's largest art event is coming to town, ironically on the same week as the circus is coming to Van Andel Arena. Crowds are crowds, and it's possible you won't be able to tell the difference, except for the timely protest of the Ringling Bros. event on September 20th from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. as organizers of Stop Animal Cruelty will attempt to set a record for the world's largest protest against the use of animals in a circus.
All this festive fun (and even the protest) is a good thing since, as ArtPrize enters a new era of its existence, it has proved yet again that it is willing to morph and bend to keep you guessing about what, exactly, it is. (Hint: ArtPrize is really about what you bring to it so, in the words of founder Rick DeVos, be sure to bring your "crazy crap" because we should have room for having fun here in our city.)
In the interest of trying to be quite fair, ArtPrize is a thrill to see land each year as many artists from near and far attempt to navigate entries, some as big as a giant Macy's Day Parade balloon animal, into the top prize categories.
Sometimes the techniques an artist will employ to gain publicity and advantage are downright garish, playing off sentiment or localism to secure a few extra votes, but the ones that always resonate with me are those artists and venues whose work is quieter, yet packs a punch in the revelation of their meaning. This is where, in the opinion of this life-long art lover, is the heart of art.
I'll be dropping images as I see things that attract my attention over the next few weeks, but most of all, remember size is not everything, my friends. It is truly how you use it that matters to me.
Good luck, 'Prizers. The games begin Wednesday, September 24.
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