Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wilbo Motors over to Downtown Market in Grand Rapids to See the Farmers and Pinch the Peaches.

While in Grand Rapids Saturday, I motored over to the Downtown Market to see if farmers were selling farm goods at this market at Ionia and Wealthy Streets too. I couldn't imagine why anyone would sell at Downtown Market over the vibrant Fulton Street market, but I had to see for myself. Instead of fielding farmers under the long roof, the market had invited master sand castle makers to carve statues out of sand. Two masters were putting on finishing touches as I strolled up, and a pair of bartenders had set up an outdoor bar with a full range of call liquors. So maybe no farmers at all will drive up their trucks to the stalls? The space worked well as an outdoor exhibition space, the long roof sure to keep the rain from ruining the sculptures. A sandbox on the side flocked with children learning sand sculpting techniques. I stepped into the main floor bazaar, and felt overwhelmed at the range of vendors, everyone from Sweetie-Licious, bakers of award winning pies, to Slows Barbecue, a transplant from Detroit's Corktown district. The space occupied by Social, a high end restsurant, had an expensive feeling. I asked if the moss wall had been installed by Ashley Liebler, an artist active on Division Street. The hostess didn't know but testified, "Guests love to walk up and pet the moss". The Downtown Market lacks the history of the old markets in downtown Montreal or Toronto. Downtown Market had better design and more salubrious vendors, but it will take decades to accumulate the gravitas of the Canadian markets. I was reminded of Ferry Plaza in San Francisco. It's hard for landlocked Downtown Market to compete with a maritime port with ships arriving hourly from Sausalito, Tiburon and Oakland. Downtown Market has proximity to the bus hub and a major freeway and yet doesn't feel connected to either. Signs placed by ArtPrize a few years ago show, ironically, how far one must walk to reach other Grand Rapids districts.
The second floor had the feeling of corporate offices, door after door leading to incubator kitchens, lacking the busy, hopeful feeling of the Culinary Institute of Michigan in Muskegon, always flocking with student chefs seeking skills. In the greenhouse, plants on irrigation hoses awaited buyers. It reminded me more of the garden center at Kmart than a teaching greenhouse. Among the plants, I found a program left over from a wedding and reception held on the second floor last weekend, an impressing production detailed on the hand made paper. Families dined together on the outdoor terrace, sharing selections picked up at the food court below. The terrace planters hosted apple trees with fruit almost red enough to pick. Viewing the parking lot of porous pavement and Heartside Park from the terrace, the diners could hardly make out the homeless woman sleeping on the grass, meaning right on the grass. Homeless men sat together on the benches, talking and smoking. At the park pavilion, volunteers gathered with the homeless for a celebration picnic, catered by Buist Community Engagement. The volunteers from a church on LaGrave Street had staffed a foot spa for the homeless one day a week all summer, giving the homeless hope one mani-pedi at at time. I remembered. Jesus had washed his disciples feet before he was betrayed, and the foot spa volunteers of LaGrave church might have begun their mission with the Gospel of John, Chapter 13. I hadn't thought of the Bible story in a long time.

The Sands of Victory, a sand art sculpture by artist Natalia Kamenskaia

Photo Credit to the Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Sands_of_Victory.jpg

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