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Michigan’s largest contemporary arts center getting even bigger

This weekend the Grand Rapids Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts opens at its new location.


The UICA is the largest contemporary arts center in Michigan. With the new location, it’s one of largest in the country in terms of programs and square footage.

There are five floors, including a ceramic studio, two theaters, and a place for kids to create art. There are very unique gallery spaces; this is not your average, open, white, space gallery.

Ritsu Katsumata sits on the UICA’s board of directors. She’s also a multi-media and performing artist.

“The possibilities are endless. You know for me it’s like walking into a giant 3-D canvas; a big giant sandbox for anybody with creative inclinations.”

The UICA has been in four other buildings since it began in 1977. This is the first building they designed from the ground up.

Tylor Devereaux saw the new UICA at a party for members Monday. He loves the prominent location.

“Where it is, is so visual to the whole community versus where it was before. It was a cool space but it was not like – but now we have people having car accidents today because they’re going ‘what is that?’ and that’s great.”

The car crash happened during the ribbon cutting ceremony. There were giant pink beach balls, abstract white creatures and fancy drag queens. A driver was distracted and ran into the building across the street.

While there won’t be fancy drag queens for the public opening this Sunday, it is free. And there are lots of other surprises in what’s now one of the largest contemporary art galleries in the U.S.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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