Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Animated Thoughts: Art Comes in Many Forms, pt. 2

I had a rare weekend off so figured I'd take a day and feed my soul. Fortunately, there were opportunities here in-State. But rather than drive down to Detroit or over to Flint in order to appreciate an art museum (or two), this time I drove in the opposite direction to see what Grand Rapids had to offer. I was not disappointed.

First stop: the Frederik Meijer Gardens in order to see the butterflies before that particular exhibit ends for the season, then a little hiking around the grounds. Gotta get those steps in. However, before the other events, as I'm on the quest to find the perfect egg salad sandwich, I had to take a moment and fuel up at the cafeteria.

Not bad. About a 6 out of 10. A little too heavy on the greens.

Then, it was off to go hunting for some butterflies!

Next, I went hiking around the grounds to see the Japanese garden. 

It was still early in the season, but there were some flowers in full bloom.

And I spotted an escapee from the indoor butterfly exhibit.

"Fly, be free!"

I had plans to visit the John Ball Zoo and experience their Lantern Festival, but I really wanted to go there closer to sunset in order to get the full effect. Which left time to stop over at Max's South Seas Hideaway, a tiki bar in the heart of Grand Rapids.

The food and drinks are tasty. And while I'm not really into the "tiki bar" scene, Max's has some really beautiful artwork in what looks to me like the Midcentury Modern style, and that's what I go there to see.

After taking a bunch of photos (and finishing off the Pu Pu Platter), it was time to go walking again. Which meant a quick drive over to the John Ball Zoo. This was the first "lantern festival" I'd ever seen first hand and it was pretty impressive. The Zoo had timed entry in order to manage the flow of foot traffic, however once you got in, you could go around the Zoo as many times as you wanted. The exhibits themselves were arranged by environmental themes: prehistoric animals, undersea animals, insects, etc. Most were a set color and pattern, but some had undulating lights, some would move, and others had some interactivity built in such that if you stepped on a pressure plate, they would move or change color. They even had a flower that was hooked up to a smoke machine so when the kids stepped on it, it would blow a burst of "pollen" at them. And three times a day, they had a troupe of chinese acrobats doing traditional performances--like balancing acts or magic tricks. Fun stuff.

In looking at the displays, I enjoyed all the shapes and colors and forms of the "lanterns", but if I'm being honest, I would've loved to be a fly on the wall when they set up and tore down the displays just so I could see how they were done. I'm sure that a lot of it was basic LED lighting but the animatronics and the interactive components add a lot to the show. 

Art comes in many forms.

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