The Game of Life was hands down my favorite board game to play growing up, I even bought myself the newest version to add to my stash of games during quarantine. Now imagine the joy when my good friend and colleague Hannah Berry created her own version of the Game of Life: After Dark Grand Rapids. As a Grand Rapids native and artist myself, I was geeked to play my favorite game with a Grand Rapids twist.
Featured in the month-long event called Bridge GR, After Dark GR celebrates Grand Rapids culture, arts, and community. While Bridge GR has ended, you still have time to participate in After Dark GR, which runs now through November 7!
Guillermo "ASMA SPEEKS" Sotelo and his mural-in-progress on Michigan Street.
Photo by Leandro Lara. Artist: Guillermo Sotelo.
Not only is it an interactive game, but it’s also a public art project. It activates five corridors in central Grand Rapids by bringing over 30 murals to local businesses in Creston, Southtown, Downtown, Michigan Street, and West Side. Each corridor is led by an artist liaison who works with local artists to bring these murals to fruition as a part of the interactive game.
I am the artist liaison leading the Downtown corridor, and I've got to say these murals aren’t something you want to miss. Did I mention it’s a board game? Roll the dice to travel the streets, the city is your wonderland, you are the player, and anything is possible!
Whether you're in town for a few hours or a few days, you can play After Dark GR while getting a taste of Grand Rapids city life.
Photo by Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids. Artwork by Brooke Rosier and Kyle Degroff.
How to Play: Go Digital or Grab the Board Game!
There's plenty of time left to register to play the interactive game and win free raffle prizes now until November 1 at 5 PM! Once you've registered, follow @afterdarkgr on Instagram, create a highlight reel, and get a point each time you complete an activity on this city-wide scavenger hunt.
Each activity consists of some of the best and most unique places I’ve come to love in Grand Rapids. There are 50 free & 50 paid activities that support small businesses. Whether you're in town for a few hours or a few days, you can accomplish activities all while getting a taste of Grand Rapids city life. Take a photo of your favorite animal at John Ball Zoo for a point, stop for coffee at Boston Cafe for a point, or even visit my Women’s Way mural for a point! You can also preorder the physical board game to play at home with friends and family.
Murals in each neighborhood highlight local talent while the interactive game encourages people to explore and support local businesses.
Photo by Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids. Artwork by Sarah Jean Anderson.
Uplifting and Connecting the community through Art
Berry, the visionary behind After Dark GR, is the owner of Lions and Rabbits: a gallery, event space, and education center dedicated to supporting the arts. What makes After Dark GR unique is its ability to combine the arts, community engagement, and economic development to uplift our community. As we face these challenging times, it is important to work together as a community to grow and heal.
Murals in each neighborhood highlight local talent while the interactive game encourages people to explore and support local businesses. The physical board game is even mapped after central Grand Rapids streets, businesses, and parks. The houses and characters on career cards are created in honor of current city commissioners, entertainers, entrepreneurs, and more, in our city. It truly offers a glimpse into Grand Rapidian life and our blossoming artistic community.
After Dark GR bridges the gap for everyday people to learn how their community operates and how they can get involved.
Photo by Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids. Artwork by Sophie Rodriguez.
”It is important to understand the value of not only the dollar, but the energy, passion, and collaboration public art brings,” says Berry, “the lasting effects showcase the power of these behind community resiliency.”
As Artist Liaison for the Downtown corridor of After Dark GR, I work directly with local artists to support their visions, connect them with local businesses, and guide them through the process of creating (for many) their first mural. It is amazing to see the passion Berry has for creating platforms for grassroots artists like myself to grow professional careers. After Dark GR bridges the gap for everyday people to learn how their community operates and how they can get involved.
What do you say, are you down to play?
For more information visit After Dark GR's website, and follow @afterdarkgr on Instagram. You can get involved by volunteering, making a donation, and participating in the game. If you have questions on how to play, please email email@example.com.
Header artwork created by artist Diane Nguyen.