Author Chuck Klosterman said “Art and love are the same thing: it’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.” What better way is there, then, to build connection between people than to experience art together?

With that in mind, rather than following the same familiar ritual for this year’s Valentine’s date (or Valentine’s brunch – to each her own!), we propose a challenge: design it around art or culture. Ditch the blockbuster for the ballet; forego the brewery for GRPM’s Barrel Aging seminar; or, better yet, lighten the mood and nurture your inner kid with a Grown Up Playdate at the Children’s Museum.

Whatever genre of art and culture you see yourself in, there’s enough of it happening that no couple need go bored this February.

Here are a few of our top suggestions:

Grand Rapids Ballet presents a darkly twisted classic: Black & White: Swan Lake

Showing February 10 through 12th

This celebrated reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s classic Swan Lake, debuted in 2012. Experience the modern and highly stylized original choreography of Mario Radacovsky, in a performance local critic Jeff Kaczmarczyk has described as “an artistic accomplishment of the highest order.”

Whether you’re a regular at the ballet or have never been before, you’re guaranteed to find this performance stimulating.

Black and White: Swan Lake Dancers
Photo credit: Grand Rapids Ballet

Dinner and a movie at the UICA

Throughout February, Feb. 15th from 8PM-9PM

Did you know downtown’s Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts has an art house movie theater? It does. Catch one of the showings of Oscar-nominated short films happening throughout February, or satisfy a craving for local cinematic talent at the theater’s annual Open Projector Night 17 on the 15th (from 8-9pm).

If you bring your UICA movie receipt to favorite local restaurants like Osteria Rossa, Stella’s Lounge, Grove and San Chez, you can take advantage of discounts through the UICA's dinner and a movie program

UICA Theater
Photo courtesy of UICA

Symphony with Soul featuring Lalah Hathaway

February 18, 8PM

Feed your soul as Grammy-award winning vocalist Lalah Hathaway adds a kick to the Grand Rapids Symphony for the organization’s 16th annual Celebration of Soul. A late performance like this would make a perfect pairing with dinner at Reserve, just around the corner.

Make it a DIY date at the GRAM’s Drop-In Studio

Saturdays in February 1PM-4PM

Make it an all-day, hands-on date by spending a Saturday browsing the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s February’s exhibits: Finders Keepers: West Michigan Collects, Leo Zulueta: Black Waves, Prints and Processes. Stop by the Drop-In Studio between 1PM-4PM to craft your own puzzle before heading out for an early dinner.

Get hands-on with fashion, tea and beer at Grand Rapids Public Museum

Fashion and Tea: February 11, 2PM-4PM; Barrel Aging: February 16, 6PM-8PM

Investigate another era as you explore the museum’s Education Collection of vintage clothing through an educational journey that ends in – you guessed it – sweet treats and tea.

If fermented drinks are more your style, wet your whistle at the museum’s Beer Explorers: Barrel Aging adventure on the 16th – beer samples included and cash bar on hand.

Grown Up Play Date at the Children’s Museum

February 10th, 6:30PM

For only one night each year, the Children’s Museum is transformed into a kid-free adult play zone for an official Grown Up Play Date. Keep things light, and release your inner kid with a grown-up game of laser tag, a building-wide scavenger hunt, and DIY crafts and projects your mom will be sure to cherish.

Couple at GR Children's Museum Playdate
Photo of the Grand Rapids Children's Museum taken by Terry Johnston