Betten family makes $50K pledge at ArtWalk opening

With the stroke of a brush, organizers kicked off Grand Haven ArtWalk 2011 at the stroke of noon on Wednesday. Grand Haven Mayor Roger Bergman, city councilmen Ed Nieuwenhuis and Dennis Scott, and City Manager Pat McGinnis each painted a portion of a special ArtWalk logo that will hang in the event's headquarters, 20 N. Fifth St. "This promises to be a wonderful two-week event in Grand Haven,' Bergman said during Wednesday's opening ceremony. "The organizers and volunteers have outdone themselves.'
Alex Doty
Sep 22, 2011

Bergman said he looks forward to his walks around the community over the next several weeks as he explores all of the art on display.

Also announced on Wednesday was the pledge of $50,000 from the Betten family for ArtWalk.

“With the vision of Joe, Michele and Amy Betten, and their dedicated team of 175 associates who see the value in being part of our great community, we went from being a two-legged creature to a centipede overnight,” ArtWaklk organizer Steve Loftis said. “The Bettens approached us several months ago with their interest and enthusiasm for the ArtWalk movement, and felt that the event reflected their values and mission as individuals and as a company to build and support community artists and their art.”

The Bettens pledged to give ArtWalk a substantial donation every year for the next five years to build the efforts of Grand Haven ArtWalk.

A portion of this year’s funds will go toward the Indie Rock/Rocket Fish Block Party on Friday and Saturday, and a private Grand Haven ArtWalk 2011 closing reception at the Tri-Cities Historical Museum on Oct. 5.

“Michele, Amy and I met with Steve several months ago and expressed our desire to become involved in ArtWalk,” said Joe Betten, CEO of Preferred Automotive Collection. “We are proud to live and work here in West Michigan. Our entire Preferred Automotive Collection family is excited to offer our support to this great event and our community with a $50,000 pledge to Grand Haven ArtWalk 2011, with consideration for additional support in upcoming years. We believe in this organization, as well as West Michigan, and all that is being done to promote a vibrant and energetic community.”

Loftis said it is these kinds of contributions that make the arts possible.

“With this generous pledge, the Grand Haven Downtown Development Authority and ArtWalk look forward to a long, productive and socially engaging community endeavor,” Loftis said.

ArtWalk lasts until Oct. 8 and features a variety of artwork displayed at various venues, as well as community events such as block parties and concerts. Visitors will have a chance to vote for their favorite entry, with winners being announced at the conclusion of ArtWalk.

“We have our venues set up and our artists are ready to go,” Loftis said. “We are running at all cylinders right now and we’ve had a really great time doing it.”

According to Loftis, with the event being in its second year, there has been a lot of momentum and support from the community. More than 125 volunteers are taking part of the event, compared to nearly 40 last year.

“Our community has just been great — they’re coming down in droves,” Loftis said. “We’re going to have a great two-and-a-half weeks.”

Mary Groters, a Grand Haven resident visiting ArtWalk’s opening, said she was excited about the event.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “I think it’s going to draw a lot of people in.”

Groters said ArtWalk was the type of event that would put Grand Haven on the map during the fall months, after all of the summer activity comes to a close, and said it also might get people visiting ArtPrize in Grand Rapids to come visit.

“I think people will go there and maybe come here,” she said.

According to Loftis, there’s been a lot of additions to the event to make it something enjoyable for everyone. This includes more outdoor wall murals, sculptures and unique events such as “Rocket Fish.”

“Art is sort of that universal language,” Loftis said. “It speaks to everyone and we’re beginning to see that, as well, through some of the various art forms around town.”

Once ArtWalk 2011 is done, organizers said they will evaluate the event and begin planning for the future.

“We would certainly like to think ArtWalk is going to be an ongoing endeavor and an ongoing event in our community,” Loftis said.

Online:
www.ghartwalk.com

To see more photos from the event's opening, click here.

To see more videos from ArtWalk, click here.

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