Festival of the Arts

In Grand Rapids, Michigan a stationary abstract sculpture known as a stabile was installed in downtown right in front of the City Hall in 1969. It was the artwork of American artist Alexander Calder. His stabiles are constructed of flat curving metal shapes that have been welded together and painted red. Once the local people saw this sculpture they decided a way to celebrate this artist’s work was to have an art festival. The festival would not only celebrate this artwork but also arts in West Michigan.

Calder’s public sculpture stands on the large concrete plaza that surrounds City Hall and the Kent County Building. The sculpture is called La Grande Vitesse or simply “the Calder.” It has become a symbol of the city of Grand Rapids and is part of the city’s official logo.

The Festival of the Arts began in 1970 and was held in a weekend in June in downtown Grand Rapids with thousands of artists participating. After some time this festival became the largest all-volunteer arts festival and is still held annually.


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