Posts tagged with: grand rapids

In his magnificent reflection on the nature of art, Real Presences, polymath George Steiner invites us to make a thought experiment: What if we lived in a city where all talk about art, mere talk about art, was prohibited? In other words, what would follow if we did away with artistic criticism qua criticism, an activity derivative by nature and one Steiner calls “high gossip”? In this posited city, what Steiner calls the Answerable City, the only permitted response to a work of art would be another work of art. Thus participation in the “art scene” could never launch itself from the risk-free loft of criticism, but it must be real participation, a participation that demands that the viewer invest something of his own imaginative capacities. In this city, the word “interpretation” denotes not something exegetical, but something performative; an activity not of professional academics or theater critics, but of actors and directors — as in an actor “interprets a role.” Here, art means incarnation, not judgment.

But such a city is only a thought experiment, and since judgment requires the participant to invest less of himself, it will always be easier to be a critic than to be an artist. And therefore the artist will always be tempted first to pass judgment rather than to respond with his own creativity.

After a decade of trying to walk the slippery ridge between “he who does” and “he who discusses” art, I have tried to avoid criticism these last couple of years to focus only on doing. But I feel the need to again jump into the critical ring, thanks to a recent article in GQ Magazine (it was sent to me by a friend), an article on my own town, Grand Rapids, and its increasingly famous festival, ArtPrize. (more…)

At the Mackinac Center blog, I look at a really shabby piece of reportage in GQ Magazine on ArtPrize, the annual public art competition in Grand Rapids, Mich. Grand Rapids is also where the Acton Institute is based and it’s a terrific Midwestern city doing a lot of things right. But when East Coast writer Matthew Power visited GR he saw only “flyover country,” a “provincial” mindset, “G.R.-usalem” (lots of churches) and “ordinary” local inhabitants.

You know where this is going. I say:

Ultimately, Power gets to his main point, which readers could easily anticipate as leveling a charge of what is perceived as the only sin known to Western Civilization by East Coast writers of a particular persuasion: hypocrisy. For it seems Rick DeVos’ parents fund free-market (including the Mackinac Center) and conservative Christian causes, and young Rick’s motivations are judged negatively by Power’s perceived “sins” of DeVos’ mere et pere and the causes they fund.

“To some of the [DeVos] family’s detractors, the millions in soft money and the funding of conservative Christian organizations suggest more ambitious goals: an end to nearly all government control and regulation, media, education … and the arts,” Power cavils. “Whatever their motives, it seemed odd that a family with such an agenda would let its heir apparent throw open the gates to its city in an open call to any and all artists, not matter how starving or unwashed.”

Power notes that the Acton Institute, a beneficiary of DeVos monies, “has advocated for the abolition of public funding for contemporary art” when, in fact, Acton has no official position whatsoever on the matter. True, some Acton articles and blog posts (several written by your author) take issue with public funding for art, arguing along with Jacques Barzun that the practice results in a “surfeit of fine art” (and I would argue strenuously against DeVos applying for and accepting a $100,00 National Endowment for the Arts grant for ArtPrize, as the businesses benefitting most from the competition could easily pony up the relatively insignificant amount) but, again, my opinions and for that matter the free-market ideology of Mr. DeVos’ parents hardly are germane to a story that merely aims to discredit ArtPrize by any means necessary.

Power winds up his Grand Rapids’ hit piece with interviews with the losers, apparently cheesed off that the public judging was insufficient to their superior aesthetic concepts and artistic execution. But, of course, that’s to be expected.

Read “GQ Hit Piece on GR ArtPrize” at the Mackinac Center.

The ongoing debate about food trucks here in Grand Rapids took a step forward this week, as this past Tuesday the city commission “voted unanimously to amend its zoning ordinance so that food trucks can operate on private property for extended periods of time.”

As I argued late last year, “There’s perhaps no more basic way to serve another person than to provide them with food,” and food trucks are something that ought to be welcomed rather than disdained in the context of a vibrant and variegated urban social space.

Rick DeVos, the founder of Grand Rapids-based ArtPrize, framed the issue quite well:

It’s called free enterprise and we should be embracing it no matter who is on the receiving end of its disruption…. The more we build the experience of downtown Grand Rapids as a great place to spend time, the more everyone doing business in downtown Grand Rapids will benefit.

Let’s get out of the way…and celebrate greater food choice in Grand Rapids.

While things have taken a step forward in Grand Rapids, the fight for food trucks and free enterprise continues throughout the country, and bears watching. The interaction between regulations and the non-profit sector is of particular interest, as both charitable ministry efforts as well as the formation of non-profit advocacy groups have been impacted by governmental policies.

Friday was the last day of Acton University 2012.  Here are a few photos from the day’s events.  Did you miss AU this year?  Be sure to check out our downloadable lectures here.

Thursday at Acton University included a lot of high quality lectures, including ones from Eric Metaxas, Victor Claar, Samuel Gregg, Jon Pinheiro, and Jonathan Witt.  Here are just a few photos of the day’s events.  If you’d like to listen to some of these lectures, we have a digital downloads page for AU2012 set up where you can buy each for $0.99 here.

Were you unable to attend Acton University 2012?  Want to hear a lecture you missed?  You’re in luck, because we have (almost) all of the lectures available so far.  Stay tuned to grab them as they’re posted to our digital lecture store. Here’s what’s available so far:

Day 1 – June 12

  • A Conversation with Michael Novak

Day 2 – June 13

  • Christian Anthropology (’12) – Dr. Samuel Gregg
  • Person and Property in the Pentateuch – Dr. David Baker
  • The Church and Urban Education – Dr. Anthony Bradley
  • de Vitoria and Economic Liberty – Dr. Alejandro Chafuen
  • The Role of Ideas in Economic History – Prof. Ross Emmett
  • Christian Vision of Government – Michael Matheson Miller
  • East Meets West: Consumerism and Asceticism – Rev. Gregory Jensen
  • Religion and the 21st Century – Rev. Raymond de Souza
  • The Unknown Solzhenitsyn – Dr. Edward Ericson
  • The Role of the Mega-Church – Rev. Dan Scott
  • The Economic Way of Thinking (’12) – Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse
  • The Church and God’s Economy – Dr. Jordan Ballor
  • Communitarianism: Theory and Critique – Dr. Kenneth Grasso
  • Corruption – Prof. Carroll Rios de Rodriguez
  • The Gospel of Luke – Prof. Chris Armstrong
  • Value Investing – Mr. David Bahnsen
  • 19th Century Reflections on Liberty – Michael Matheson Miller
  • Tensions in American Conservatism – Dr. Jay Richards
  • Biblical Foundations of Freedom – Dr. Charles Self
  • An Evening with Arthur Brooks

Day 3 – June 14

  • Economics and Human Action – Dr. Peter Boettke
  • Orthodoxy, Church and State – Very Rev. Michael Butler
  • Christianity and the Scottish Enlightenment – Dr. Samuel Gregg
  • Poverty in the Developing World – Michael Matheson Miller
  • The Church and Modern Civilization – Dr. Greg Forster
  • Vocational Stewardship and Community Transformation – Dr. Amy Sherman

Visit the digital lecture store here to buy individual lectures and to view additional descriptions. Be sure to bookmark it since we’ll be posting more into next week.

Wednesday was filled with learning at Acton University with courses running the entire day.  Here are some photos of the second official day.  If you see me around the event, don’t be afraid to ask for a picture.  We have other photographers covering the event as well and you’ll get to see their pictures later on.

This is a huge week for us here at Acton. The annual Acton University kicks off tonight and runs through Friday with more than 700 attendees expected from dozens of countries. I’ll be blogging some of the scenes from this amazing event, starting with yesterday’s “prep rally” and breakfast at our offices in Grand Rapids. Stay tuned for more great postings on AU here on the PowerBlog and be sure to follow the Twitter feed on the right hand sidebar. If you’re at the event, make sure you connect with everyone with the #ActonU hashtag.

A ‘Stand Up For Religious Freedom’ Rally, organized by a coalition of religious, non-profit, pro-life and pro-family organizations and individuals is scheduled for Friday, June 8, at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids, Mich. The Rev. Robert Sirico is a featured speaker.

This public event, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. EST, is described as “…a peaceful protest to stand up for our religious beliefs and our 1st Amendment Freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution.” Other speakers include former Congressman Peter Hoekstra and President/Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center Richard Thompson. Besides the featured speakers, there will be on-site voter registration, information tables from participating groups and a student poster contest.

One of the topics expected to be addressed is the Obamacare HHS mandate and its effects on religious organizations’ health care coverage for workers.

See more from Acton on the Obamacare mandate here.

You only have a few days left to visit the website and register for the 2012 Acton University conference – the registration deadline is next Friday, May 18. Guided by distinguished, international faculty, Acton University is a four day experience (June 12-15) held in Grand Rapids, Mich. During the conference, our goal is to offer you an opportunity to deepen your knowledge and integrate rigorous philosophy, Christian theology and sound economics. If you have ever had the opportunity to attend Acton University, I’m sure that you’ll agree that it is a life-changing experience. If you haven’t had the chance to attend in the past, make this the year that you do!

The 2012 conference is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever. We’ve packed the conference schedule with over 80 sessions given by top-notch daytime and evening speakers. But you don’t need to take my word for it; take a look at our faculty list and course list to see for yourself what all the hype is about.