Tag Archives: Stellafly

Jazz in the Garden: Happy Hour and Rawluck



Last weekend, Stellafly joined WOTV 4 Women’s Healthy Eats crew member and D&W Fresh Market’s Living Well Lifestyle Expert, Margaux Drake, for her annual party, Jazz in the Garden: Happy Hour and Rawluck. She hosted the event with her husband, Steve Drake, at their home in East Grand Rapids.


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The evening was a celebration of the official start of summer. Happy hour attendees included her friends from WOTV 4 Women, Spartan Stores, Gazelle Sports and Wyncroft Wines. Live piano music by Lonnie Ostrander greeted guests upon arrival and then they strolled the Drake’s gardens while tasting Wyncroft Wines, a local Michigan winery. An infused water bar with a trio of different types of infused water was provided by D&W Fresh Market- Knapp’s Crossing. Since Margaux is an avid vegan who loves to share her passion for healthy food with others, a large spread of Mexican inspired plant-based hors d’oeuvres filled the Drake’s dining room table.

Happy Hour guests were invited to stay for the Rawluck, raw food potluck, which started at 7pm and continued well into the night. Rawluck guests simply bring a raw, plant-based dish to share (food is considered “raw” if it is not heated above 118 degrees). Three large tables on the patio were filled with eclectic dishes like lemon cheesecake and dehydrated toast points with cherry salsa. Guests also brought fresh herbs and seeds from their garden to share. Many of Margaux’s Detox and Living Well Lifestyle students were in attendance and enjoyed the evening together.






If you are interested in attending the monthly Rawlucks, they are regularly hosted at D&W Fresh Market Knapp’s Crossing on the third Sunday of the month in the evening, click here.

If you are interested in Margaux’s Living Well Lifestyle classes or Clean Start classes, that she teaches at D&W Fresh Market, click here.

Margaux’s next 28 day detox class will be a Back-to-School Detox in September hosted at Gazelle Sports.

If you’d simply like to join in the Living Well Lifestyle conversation, join Margaux on Facebook.



The Cook Auditorium at the Grand Rapids Art Museum was filled with a little over a hundred guests on Friday night who were interested in hearing what some of the city’s most innovative and entrepreneurial creative had to say about design. This was the third annual interview/lecture event hosted by Design/Educate/Connect (DEC), a nonprofit started in 2010 by Benjamin Edgar, Josh Beebe, and Evan Daniels.

The evening’s format was a 1-1 interview, with each interviewee given the opportunity to choose their interviewer for a 12-minute conversation. First up was Cliff Wegener of Mighty in the Midwest, a mobile and web design firm located above Hopcat, who was interviewed by his close friend and mentor, Tom Crimp. Wegener had three keys to long-term success for technology design firms such as his: realize that process and technology are constantly changing; trust what you know works; and experiment with new technology, using what works for you. He described Grand Rapids as inspiring and a hotbed for technology and design, and he loves that his peers are right in his neighborhood.






Jill DeVries was interviewed by her good friend Marissa Kulha. As she talked about her passion for capturing beauty through her camera lens, it was easy to see how much she truly loves what she does. Growing up she had thoughts of being an architect and had a great love of “beautiful spaces and good design.” DeVries told the audience that in her opinion, good design is “knowing what is necessary and what is not,” and she applies that philosophy to her portraits. To her, beauty is everywhere. It is “not about the camera, it’s about the vision.”

Shoe designer Tyler Way’s career began in his freshman dorm room with a Sharpie marker. Way was interviewed by Adrienne Rehm, his girlfriend of 4 ½ years. In their lighthearted and completely endearing interview, the audience learned that Tyler got his big break by “trespassing” his way into several Detroit Pistons games by using his ID badge from his internship the previous summer. He got the attention of Tayshaun Prince, who had Way design a pair of shoes for him, and his business skyrocketed from there. After years of creating custom footwear, Way is now designing shoes for Sebago, a brand under the Wolverine Worldwide umbrella, and volunteers his time as Creative Director for Fashion Has Heart, which pairs wounded veterans with artists to create custom t-shirts.

Derek Coppess, Founder and Managing Director of 616 Development, was interviewed by Monica Clark, Director of Community Development at 616 Development. Coppess’ father was a high school drafting teacher, and he learned a lot from his father about design. He is not an architect, not an interior designer, but his experience with design comes in the form of relationships with people. He is most inspired by the human emotions that go into their projects and designing their communities. He also designs the team—616 Development is always evaluating their “tribe” and when they determine there is a gap, they make sure to fill the gap with the right person.



Then came Laura Caprara, founder of Stellafly Social Media, interviewed by Eric Kuhn of Site:Lab. Caprara graduated from Calvin College and then drove to Oregon to begin a job as a Graphic Designer, which turned into a job teaching an “old school art director” how to integrate technology into his work. She returned to Grand Rapids and eventually launched the Grand Rapids Social Diary in 2009—she would send photographers to document events around town, post the photos on Facebook, and guests at the event would tag themselves. This idea took off, and in 2010 she saw an opportunity to monetize her business and began charging for event coverage. In 2011, the business was rebranded as Stellafly in an effort to expand the efforts outside of Grand Rapids and even outside the state. Today, Stellafly does the day-to-day online messaging for organizations such as Grand Rapids Public Schools and TEDx Grand Rapids. They are also covering events that range from art openings to concerts to black tie galas.

The evening ended with Christian Saylor, Creative Director and Joe Johnston, Director of User Experience and Director of R & D for Universal Mind, interviewing each other. When asked what inspires him, Johnston answered that he loves “watching people interact with things.” He grew up on a farm so when he could, he would go to the mall and watch people do just that—interact with things. Saylor is inspired by storytelling. He told of car rides with his father who would tell him and his siblings captivating stories, and talked about the walks he takes with his wife, where they discuss the books they are reading and his favorite question to ask her is, “What’s the story?” Saylor and Johnston like to look at their projects through the lens of a great story, looking at who they are designing for and what the end product will be, based on their story.





Grand Rapids is overflowing with creativity and design, and the interviewees at tonight’s Design/Educate/Connect event were an incredible representation of this city’s talent, and it truly showed the wide variety of ways that design can be viewed. What is your definition of “design?”

LIKE Design/Educate/Connect on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thedecproject



ArtPrize 2012: The Sponsor Party


ArtPrize opening day is right around the corner, and there is already a noticeable buzz throughout the city. Banners are up, art is being installed, and official ArtPrize events are on the calendar.

Last evening, the ArtPrize team hosted a celebration for the sponsors who help make the 19-day event possible. There are 178 sponsors and six media partners who make up the list this year, and the Sponsor Party gave each a tour of the 2012 space. Guests were treated to delicious hors d’oeuvres, wine tasting, live music, and the first peek at The HUB, located at 41 Sheldon.

The HUB is essentially the “nerve center” for ArtPrize. It’s the headquarters for the ArtPrize team and volunteers, and it is the only place where you can find the full collection of ArtPrize merchandise. You can register to vote, pick up an event guide, and get your wristbands for the ArtBus. On Friday night all who were passing through gave it great reviews. There was also an opportunity for the sponsors to get registered for ArtPrize voting, and beat the crowds that will be coming out in the next week to get signed up.

The ArtPrize store in the HUB is bigger and better than ever. From buttons to posters, from onesies to jackets and everything in between…you can find it there. While guests shopped tonight they were treated to live music by Hannah Niah & The Boys.

Another new area in the HUB is the park just outside the entrance. The road in front of the building has been closed off and with the help of Landscape Design Services and Herman Miller, there is an adorable landscaped area with quite a bit of seating. It will be a great place for ArtPrize guests to meet up throughout the next few weeks.

Stellafly would like to thank the ArtPrize team, especially Event Producer Noddea Skidmore, for the invitation to be involved again this year. We are proud to be part of the Official ArtPrize Media Coverage Team. This privilege allows us to bring you all of the behind the scenes coverage of this year’s event! Stay tuned!

Be sure to visit ArtPrize online: http://www.artprize.org/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ArtPrize

“Starry Night” — Painting Class at Brush Studio

July 13, 2012


I consider myself a fairly crafty (as in arts and crafts) person, so I was pretty excited when I first heard about Brush Studio, in Gaslight Village in East Grand Rapids. Brush is a new concept to West Michigan, offering painting classes in a social setting. You can take a class on your own, make it a girls or a couple’s night out, a family affair, or a team-building event for the office.

Brush is the brainchild of Lisa Jabara and Heather Callahan. The two met when Callahan began working at Hot Mama, another business owned by Jabara, and also located in Gaslight Village. They have known each other for five years and have been working on this venture for the past year. The idea came from Callahan after she and her husband had visited friends in Colorado and saw a similar concept called Canvas and Cocktails. She saw an opportunity for this in West Michigan and approached Lisa on the idea. Heather is a former 2nd Grade teacher with a creative arts minor in college, and Lisa has a business background, which made the perfect combination for starting Brush Studio.

One of the most popular offerings of Brush is their private parties. They work one of three ways—a group can reserve the entire studio for themselves, they can come and paint during a regularly scheduled class, or Brush will come to the group. Parties can be for kids or adults, and this is an excellent family activity.

For every class, Brush provides all materials—a 16×20 canvas, paints, brushes, and an apron. If your group would like to reserve the entire studio, you can select the painting they would like to create or Brush Studio artists will create a custom painting just for your event. Brush has partnered with Ramona’s Table in Gaslight Village to offer catering, and also offers beer and wine. If there is a specific type of beer or wine your group wants to have that night, Brush will make sure it is available to you. This can be a great way to celebrate a special occasion or even a team-building activity for the office. For this type of private party, the cost to have it Sunday-Thursday is a $200 fee plus a $35 painting charge for each individual, and on a Friday or Saturday, the cost is a flat fee of $2,500. Those prices do not include the catering.

Groups can also join a scheduled class for just the cost per painter (which varies from $30-$50 depending on the painting), and pre-order food from Ramona’s so it is there when they arrive. The staff at Brush makes sure your group is seated together and works hard to ensure everyone is having a wonderful time.

Lastly, Brush Studio offers “Brush To-Go,” an option that brings the paint studio to you. This could be a great way to add a little something extra to a dinner party at your home or have a fun team-building event at the office. This option is offered for a $200 travel/set-up fee plus $50 per painter.

On Friday night the Sparkly Stellafly and a few of her friends signed up for the “Starry Night” class, so they could re-create the famous work by Van Gogh. It was a fantastic experience. From the moment you walk through the door, the staff is highly attentive and extremely helpful in getting you set up with your palette, brushes, apron, and paint. Seating is already assigned when you arrive (so be sure and let them know if you are coming with friends and want to sit together) and there is a little bit of social time before the class starts.

As you get set up at your station, you also have an opportunity to order food from Ramona’s Table off of a custom menu they put together for Brush Studio, or purchase beer or wine from the bar.

Once the class begins, the instructor introduces the painting and the brushes that the class will be using. (Jabara and Callahan found local artists mostly through word of mouth and through some postings at Kendall College) Then you are taken step-by-step in creating the painting, and the rest is up to you. It was interesting to observe each painter’s style and interpretation of “Starry Night” and I was amazed at the fact that mine actually somewhat-resembled Van Gogh’s masterpiece.

During the class, the Brush Studio staff is walking around, offering to refill your glass, get you more paint, and answer any questions you may have. Our class last night included a private party and they had a very fun night. They had arranged for food from Ramona’s Table and pre-ordered their favorite wine, and it was all waiting for them when they arrived. When the class was over, there was still time to socialize and shop in the retail section offered in the front of the studio. All of the products are made by artists with some connection to West Michigan. On the night of your class, you receive 10% off all retail purchases.

All in all, this was a really fun way to spend a Friday night, and I highly recommend this for anyone—no matter if you consider yourself creative or not, it’s a fun way to get together with friends. If you are interested in trying it out, go to their website or check out their Facebook page for a schedule of classes and to register online. Or give them a call at 616.805.5099—tell them Stellafly sent you.

Be sure to check out Brush Studio online: http://www.brushgr.com/
and on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/BrushStudioGR

“Mr. Festival” Fred Bivins: “This is what makes life worth living — art”


There’s a giant gorilla staring at Fred Bivins from one side and a creepy creature with horns closing in from another.

Head for the flower garden, Fred! No, wait — the beach!

When you’re surrounded by 354 pieces of art, you can change your scenery with a quick dash.

Bivins, 62, is in his element amid the Festival of the Arts Regional Arts Exhibition, a part of Festival that has been in his care for 38 years.

But it’s never been quite like this — with stacks of old newspapers laying around.

The annual exhibition of cool art opened Friday in the former Grand Rapids Press headquarters on Michigan Street NW downtown. The building was purchased in January by Michigan State University for its College of Human Medicine and is mostly empty, although a smattering of employees still work there.

When Bivins started looking for venues, his usual spots — the old art museum, the new art museum — weren’t available.

Somebody mentioned the former Press building. He took a walk through, and when he got to the cavernous deserted mail room, formerly used to sort and stuff inserts in newspapers before delivery, “I said, ‘This is it!’” he recalls. “This is what I want.”

But it’s been a challenge. He had to install display walls down the middle, paint the place, rig lighting. He’s been toiling to get the space ready since the beginning of May.

Now it’s an 8,000-square-foot art gallery, in an unlikely spot.

“Isn’t it great?” Bivins beams. “It’s a cliché urban, trendy, hip industrial space that everybody loves for art these days.”

Bivins knows Festival draws people to art who might not seek it otherwise, and he loves that.

Last year, when the exhibition was at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, “the most common statement I heard was ‘This is the first time I’ve been in this building,’” he says.

What a shame, he notes.

“Once you get a roof over your head, and air and food, you’ve got sustenance,” he says. “But do you really have life? This is what makes life worth living — art.

“Oh, I guess there are other things,” he muses. “But I don’t go boating.”

He laughs. He cracks himself up a lot.

“The more people are exposed to art, the better they feel about life,” Bivins says. “Everybody who comes in here will find something they like. Everybody who comes in here will see something and get inspired. They might say, ‘I can do that.’ Everybody has it within them to be creative in some way.”

Bivins has it in a lot of ways.

He prints his own Christmas cards every year on a 1911 Chandler & Price letterpress.

He turns chunks of wood into exquisite high-end bowls that are famous. One is on the cover of a Godiva chocolate flier, filled with chocolates. Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell buys the bowls to give foreign dignitaries as gifts when he travels.

When Bivins talks about the process of making one, he’s a poet:

“Almost nothing can compare to the feeling of producing something that looks the way you want it to look,” he says. “Taking a chunk of log, putting it on the lathe and turning it into a bowl. The sound, the feel, the smell. The shavings in the air. The water coming out of the green wood.” He grins. “You get soaked.”

His artistry continues in the kitchen. Once a week he hosts a passel of friends for “spaghetti night,” but more than spaghetti happens there.

He makes vats of his special “Fredducine alfredo” to serve the crowd. Friends help him bake up chewy, crispy loaves of ciabatta bread, pizzas and calzones that go in and out of a huge commercial pizza oven he bought at an auction.

If the guests are really lucky, Bivins treats them to gooey caramel and pecan-studded rolls, affectionately called “Fred’s sweet-ass buns.”

The tables are covered with white paper, and bowls of crayons and markers are set out. Draw, please.

The camaraderie is as much sustenance to Bivins as the food. He loves people. His wife, Gina, public programs manager at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, likes to tell how everybody he meets becomes his new best friend.

It’s hard to get rid of Bivins, if you wanted to. After high school he landed a job at General Motors, then stayed there for 31 years, first in production, then as an electrician. He was a big union guy.

He’s been part of the fabric of Festival for decades. He’s worked food booths, printed Festival flags and serves on the Festival board, spending three years as its president.

He’s been emcee for opening ceremonies since 1985, each year wearing a shirt he makes out of that year’s Festival flags.

In 2008 he won the Spirit of Festival Award. In 1986 he was co-chair of the whole shebang.

This year, he loves it that his beloved art exhibition is in a sort of quirky place. He asked for bundles of newspapers to place around the room.

“I want to bring a sense of The Press into this room,” he says. The Press printed the exhibition program on newsprint for him, in broadsheet style, like a newspaper.

“It’s a collector’s item,” Bivins says.

He should know. He has a lot of stuff. He collects bricks. He has two from virtually every building in town that’s been torn down. He’s not above climbing fences to get them.

Bivins has a love affair going with his community. He recently hosted print making workshops where guests printed brown paper lunch bags for Kids Food Basket, the nonprofit that supplies nutritious sack suppers to 4,800 kids a day who struggle with hunger. Later he hosted a fund raiser for the charity.

He spent the last eight months on a committee organizing the 150th celebration of his alma mater, Central High School, which drew 1,200 people earlier this month.

He’s been craving the moment when the art exhibition doors open and the place turns from a quiet haven of art to a bustling venue buzzing with chatter.

“Once somebody sees something that inspires them, then it’s the run for the roses,” he says. “If I can be part of something that sparks that creativity, then my life has great value.”

He knows something about the value of life.

He was rushed to the emergency room one night back in 1996 for what he figured was a gall stone, but doctors found a tumor. They thought he had pancreatic cancer. Put your affairs in order, he was told. After a complicated surgery, they discovered the tumor was benign.

Then, three years later, at age 49, Bivins had an enlarged heart and elevated pulmonary pressure. He was told he may need a heart transplant. He might live five years.

He underwent extensive testing for two years but doctors couldn’t find the cause. Ultimately they tried a new drug. It worked.

Bivins had a recent check-up with his cardiologist.

“He said the best thing he could have said,” Bivins says. “He said, ‘Looks normal to me.’”

Bivins likes to say how almost dying twice has a way of making you want to be a good person. It’s given him a kind of wisdom that can catch you by surprise. He’ll suddenly say something like this:

“You never know when the eureka moment comes, but it’s obvious later in life that you had it,” he muses. “But you might not know it till it’s gone. When was the last time your kids crawled in bed with you? You don’t know it’s the last time until it’s gone.”

After Festival, Bivins will dive into ArtPrize, curating the entries displayed at the Women’s City Club.

You just can’t escape art, can you, Fred?

Bivins grins.

“Why would you want to?”