Issue 20

Issue 20 | 04.04.2019 | Holland, MI

A bright yellow curved tail sculpture reaches skyward.
The Eighth Fire by local sculptor Cynthia McKean. See interview in the Arts section.

A city scape at dusk along a river reflecting yellow artificial lights.
Holland Weekly Feature Article: What the Public–and the President–Missed in Grand Rapids

A brushed silver metal sculpture graces a green garden.
Holland Weekly Arts: An Interview with Sculptor Cynthia McKean

A young black and white shepherd looks straight into the camera, panting.
Holland Weekly Shelter Loves: Adopt a Pupperz

A bowl of pasta with rage on top.
Holland Weekly Recipe: Bolognese

Madam puppy dog astrologer, Sylvia. Photo by Michael Tuccini.
Holland Weekly Horoscope: Sylvia Reads The Stars

What the Public, and the President, Missed in Grand Rapids

A city scape at dusk along a river reflecting yellow artificial lights.
Grand Rapids, MI. Photo courtesy of https://www.experiencegr.com.

By Kathleen Schenck
April 4, 2019

Last Thursday the President of the United States visited one of America’s fastest growing cities: Grand Rapids. Birthplace of President Gerald R. Ford. Hotspot for furniture, the Dutch Reformed, and beer. Who was the first U.S. city to put fluoride in its drinking water? Grand Rapids, that’s who. 

If Americans outside the Great Lakes region have heard of us at all, they know Holland is the home of Betsy DeVos, and Grand Rapids is the birthplace of the late Jay Van Andel, a staunch Republican who along with DeVos’s father-in-law co-founded the multi-level marketing company, Amway. Maybe a few have heard of Steelcase, Calvin College or HopCat, and would get a joke that begins with Two Calvin grads walk into The Pyramid Scheme….

But most Americans will only hear that the president’s rally took place at Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids, a Rust Belt city located in what will be described as southwest Michigan even though Grand Rapids lies in West Michigan. Americans will also hear that small protests took place in this Republican stronghold.

Locals know better.

If you input 130 Fulton St. W., the address of Van Andel Arena, into the New York Times’ interactive map (An Extremely Detailed Map of the 2016 Presidential Election), you will see a precinct that voted for Hillary Clinton, with the surrounding area in the 62nd percentile for Clinton. You will also see a red Trump precinct not ten minutes away.

We are politically diverse in West Michigan: conservatives live next door to progressives, moderates next door to voters on the far-right and far-left. Unlike Congress, we do not have the luxury of not getting along.

West Michigan’s stats from the 2016 presidential election support the generalization that cities vote blue and farms vote red. Allegan, Ottawa and Kent counties voted Republican, while the cities of Saugatuck, Holland and Grand Rapids voted Democrat.

But Governor Gretchen Whitmer won Kent County last fall–the first time a Democrat has won since 1986. Democrat Winnie Brinks also flipped a local senate seat held for decades by Republicans, and did so with 56% of the vote. The 29th District includes the cities of Lowell, Grand Rapids and East Grand Rapids, and the townships of Ada, Bowne, Caledonia, Cascade, Grand Rapids and Lowell. This is a mix of urban and rural, suburbs and small towns.

Maybe the protests outside Van Andel were small because Michiganders have had to figure out how to live and work and share the Great Lakes with one another, regardless of who fills in what oval on election day. We’ve heard the rhetoric from both sides–at Thanksgiving dinner, no doubt–and we sigh and pass the mashed potatoes.

Last Thursday the wind gusts topped 35 mph here in Holland. I don’t love watching my neighbors’ pine tree sway into the power lines. It makes me nervous. Just as I know they don’t love pulling the gazillion (at last count) Rose of Sharon shoots from seeds my trees send their way. But we manage to say hey when we see each other, maybe ask about the game, maybe right a tipped-over trash can.

The stories from Grand Rapids showed MAGA hats and schoolyard chants. I hope the country looks closer to see the real us.


A blue metal piece stands in a green yard with tall pines.
Celebration of Life. Photo courtesy of Cynthia McKean.

Steel as Marvelous Medium: An Interview with Sculptor Cynthia McKean

By Kathleen Schenck
April 4, 2019

Holland Weekly first noticed Cynthia McKean’s work at Douglas Beach. It was a pleasure to exchange emails with her over the last several days to learn a bit more. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

I’d like to learn more about the path that led you to sculpture. You say you weren’t raised in a family that took art seriously as a vocation. What did it take seriously instead?
I loved art from the beginning, but grew up in a family that didn’t take art seriously as a career. College was for developing your intellect in fields such as math and science and language.

Was there a time or were there times art spoke to you? Can you describe those times–the work, the response, the feeling or thought process?
Upon reflection, I now understand that my affinity for creating art has always been there. I have always gone to it in times of great joy, overwhelming sadness, and other times as well. Too many ideas continually float through my brain. They all take time to process. Some I pursue to reality. Some lay dormant for years and then are revisited. And others are forgotten or discarded.

I’m wondering about your decision to earn a degree in architecture, and then work in marketing and sales at a “steel fab shop” in Holland (which ultimately led you to sculpture). How did that all come about? Do you believe it was meant to happen so that you would ultimately find your new day job as a sculptor, or did you make the best of a situation, or…?
As a young woman working in a university anatomy department, life as an artist never occurred to me. I had no exposure to such a thing.

It was only during the hiatus from the working world, while my children were very young, that I realized that I am an environmentalist. It finally occurred to me that environmentalists want to save everything. Architects build monuments to themselves. It is paramount that architects and environmentalists collaborate. The next step was architecture school.

It was while I worked in industry that the idea of becoming a sculptor emerged. In the early 1980s I was working at a steel fab shop in Holland. My job was in sales and marketing. The longer I was there, the more intrigued I became with the steel building components, large and small, which were being made in the shop. At age 53, I went to night school and took structural welding. Ultimately I left my “day job” in order to spend my time and energy creating steel sculpture.

A brushed silver metal sculpture graces a green garden.
Centennial Steel.

What has been one of the more challenging aspects of any given piece?
The early formative time is usually the most stressful. Taking a vague idea and putting lines around it is difficult. At the point where 2 dimensional drawings must be “popped” into 3D is hard. Sometimes it just won’t work.

You mention working with engineers. How did you arrive to the conclusion you needed them?
When working with structural steel, if your pieces reach any substantial size, you need an engineer. Thrusting 300, 500, 1000 pounds into the air is dangerous. Just moving the pieces around is a serious job. If a weld breaks or a part fails, it could kill somebody.

A working artist's studio with models and full-sized works in progress.
Studio. Photo courtesy of http://cynthiamckean.com.

Are you commissioned for each piece or do you work more free-form?
I enjoy both ways. To have some of each in the shop adds a nice balance because they are approached differently.

Birds are an inspiration. What else?
All kinds of things can be inspirational: water, the mountains, a forest trail, a beautiful flower, a gateway, a building (ancient or modern). Everything around us large or small has potential.

Why steel? Why metal?
Steel is a marvelous medium. Strong and pliable it speaks to me. If I work it, respect it, and treat it gently, it will reward me by telling my story.

The artist with welding gear on concentrates on a piece.
Cynthia McKean at work. Photo courtesy of http://cynthiamckean.com.

More information including work samples from Cynthia McKean can be found at her website http://cynthiamckean.com. McKean is part of the Artz and Gardenz Tour on Mother’s Day Weekend, Saturday May 11th and Sunday May 12th. Seven unique studios will be open to the public from 10 AM to 5 PM. Located in Saugatuck, MI, Cynthia McKean is studio #5. 


SUBSCRIBE TO HOLLAND WEEKLY

Have Holland Weekly delivered to your inbox each Thursday when a new issue comes out. Email us at hollandweekly@gmail.com and write “Subscribe” in the subject line.

Thank you for your interest in Holland Weekly.

 

A young black and white shepherd looks straight into the camera, panting.
Boogie! Photo courtesy of Allegan County Animal Shelter.

Adopt a Pupperz

By Allegan County Animal Shelter
April 4, 2019

Each week Holland Weekly features a local shelter dog who is available for adoption. For more information, and updates on whether or not the dog is still available, please contact the shelter at 269-686-5112.

Meet Boogie

I am so excited you have visited my very own profile page. I feel so special! My name is Boogie and I am an approximately 1-year-old girl looking for a forever home with someone who has time to let me release my energy. I would absolutely love a big fenced-in yard to run and play free because I am kind of like the Energizer Bunny – you know – plenty of energy to jump, run and be a dog.

I am a medium size dog so I am not too big that I would eat you out of house and home. Speaking of food … I am a bit insecure that someone will steal my yummy food so I kind of need to be left alone when I am eating. If I am going to have any doggy siblings, I want to meet them to see if they are willing to play with me. I could use a play buddy that enjoys playing as much as I do. We could entertain each other! That would be so fun to have another doggy to play with. Do you have cats? Don’t worry if you do – I don’t mind cats. I just sniff them to see what they smell like. However, to be honest, cats might not like my active ways. I would enjoy kids 13 and up. It’s not that I dislike little kids but I probably am a little too carefree for smaller kids.

I am looking forward to a fun, loving home to call my own. I am a cute happy gal just like my pictures show. Come check me out and see if I could be a great addition to your family. Please contact the Allegan County Animal Shelter operated by the Wishbone Pet Rescue Alliance at 269-686-5112 or come visit me during the shelter hours.

Hope to see you soon. ~~ Boogie 

A young pepper looks at you sideways.
Boogie the Great.

A plate of parpadelle and Bolognese.

Bolognese Sauce

By Luke Tuccini
April 4, 2019

Ingredients

3 cans 28oz whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes. Brand can be Cento, or 6 in One, or Meijer, but I like the San Marzano variety of tomato for great balance of sugar and acid and great tomato flavor as the foundation.

1 cup finely chopped raw sweet onion. (1 jumbo onion)

1/2 cup each finely chopped raw carrots and celery

1/4 cup finely chopped raw garlic

1 lb mixed ground pork-veal-beef. (At Meijer the package is labeled Meat Loaf Mix.)

1 lb Grated Romano or Parmesan. (Just no Green Cans here.)

Salt, pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, olive oil.

Instructions

It’s simply about building layers of flavor and making sure chopped veggies and meat are completely cooked all the way through before adding tomatoes. Also never hurts to maybe have a little Frank playing in the background…

This can all be done in one large pot if bottom is decent thickness. It’s easy to burn in a real thin bottom pot.

Heat up pot first, then pour in enough oil to easily coat bottom. Less sticking this way.

I use a full-size food processor to chop the veggies for sauteeing. (Not tomatoes, though.)

Quarter the onion and add raw garlic. Pulse until extra fine – under 1/4 inch pieces. Add to hot oil and do not burn, please. Adjust heat when needed.

Do the same with carrots and celery. Finely chop in processor and add to onions and garlic in pot. Stir often and adjust heat as needed. Keep hot but don’t burn. Add plenty of salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon basil and one teaspoon oregano.

After about 20-25 minutes, veggies should be completely soft. Add the ground meat to veggies and chop and turn and stir to get all flavors mixed together. Season again as above and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Louis Prima in the background here is great to sing along with.

After meat is completely browned, it’s time to add tomatoes. Open one can and reach in and grab a tomato. Squeeze it into smaller pieces over the pot. Repeat with other tomatoes in the can and pour any remaining sauce into pot. Repeat with other two cans of tomatoes. Re-season again as above and turn up heat and stir enough to completely combine everything. You will need to taste it to adjust seasoning. Usually more salt will bring out the tomato flavor and sweetness in the tomatoes. Turn heat down and simmer for at least 90 minutes with no lid in order to evaporate some moisture and intensify flavor.

Sit down and relax. This is a great time for some Luciano Pavarotti and to put your feet up.

Any shape pasta you like is fine. Starch from boiling your pasta will sometimes dull the bright tomato flavor of the sauce you worked so hard on. Use the biggest pot you have to boil the pasta, in order to give it plenty of room, and please don’t pour starchy water all over pasta in strainer in sink. Just pour it off to side. No need to rinse pasta in strainer, just try to get it pretty dry while still hot.

Have sauce heated up hot, and toss all pasta and sauce together before serving. This will help get excess steam evaporated before serving, and there will be no pools of water collecting on your guests’ serving dishes of beautiful pasta.

Grate the cheese in a big bowl and pass around the table for everyone to use as much cheese as they want.

Mangia!

A bowl of pasta bolognese with a small bowl of grated parm and a glass of red wine.


Madam puppy dog astrologer, Sylvia. Photo by Michael Tuccini.
Madam Sylvia. Photo by Michael Tuccini.

Sylvia Reads The Stars

Week of April 4, 2019

Aries Mar 20 – Apr 20

Aries, where have you been? I’ve been out smelling All The Smells! Did you take my advice and visit a new spot? I hope you did, and I doubly hope you enjoyed yourself immensely and recharged a bit. The stars say you’re ready for action this week–fired up and ready to go!

Taurus Apr 20 – May 21

This week is a good time to cool it from making fun of your usual suspects. Find something positive about them. In other words, ya gotta root for State. It’s all we have left.

Gemini May 21 – Jun 21

It’s been pointed out to me that what I think tastes delicious doesn’t always strike my humans similarly (philistines!). This is a good week to remember the differences among us exist, in part, to get us to flex our understanding muscle.

Cancer Jun 21 – Jul 23

Cancer, perhaps I’ve been hard on you. Perhaps you’ve been hard on you, too. This week, take a load off. Write 10 things about yourself for which you are grateful. Make it 100.

Leo Jul 23 – Aug 23

My literary Leo, do you find yourself reading cereal boxes? Magazines at the doctor’s office? This week your superpower is the ability to read souls. It’s not a party trick, so don’t broadcast your findings too widely.

Virgo Aug 23 – Sep 23

Virgo, this is the week. You. Me. The birds and the sky. Come on, already. It’s finally thawed out. Take a good hour gazing at Spring.

Libra Sep 23 – Oct 23

Spend a stress-free morning, even if it’s at work, thinking of how awesome the people around you are. If it’s hard to see, try being a foot and a half off the ground, like me. Like, whoa. A whole different perspective awaits!

Scorpio Oct 23 – Nov 22

I don’t know, Scorp. Some of my best moments are running around the backyard, then cuddling with you on the couch. I don’t love being told I snore, though. This week could you knock it off and just enjoy the good?

Sagittarius Nov 22 – Dec 23

Sadge, everybody calls me “Buddy” when they see me walking in the park. I’m a pretty girl. I don’t know why they think I’m a dude. What aspect of you gets misunderstood more times than necessary? Amplify it this week.

Capricorn Dec 23 – Jan 20

I hate having my nails trimmed, Cap. It’s right up there with linoleum floors and baths. Apparently I have to endure these un-favorite things for my own good. What advice have you gotten that you haven’t taken…until now?

Aquarius Jan 20 – Feb 18

Aquarius, you love people. And that is a gift as lovely as the stars. This week watch as your good nature rubs off on those around you.

Pisces Feb 18 – Mar 20

Ok, Pisces, you got me: I know six different languages including feline. What light of yours have you been hiding under a bush…and did you see any bunnies? I speak bunny.


SUBSCRIBE TO HOLLAND WEEKLY

Have Holland Weekly delivered to your inbox each Thursday when a new issue comes out. Email us at hollandweekly@gmail.com and write “Subscribe” in the subject line.

Thank you for your interest in Holland Weekly.