I just wrote a review of a compelling installation by Parisa Ghaderi and Ebrahim Soltani for Pulp. To read about it go here
As summer draws to a close and harvest time approaches, Jessica Tenbusch, Elize Jekabson and Maggie Spencer invite us to consider the honeybee.
The exhibit For Forage celebrates, in collaboration with the 4th Annual Ypsilanti Festival of the Honeybee, the many ways in which this indispensable insect contributes to the natural environment and human well-being. Participating artists were invited to “share visions, critique relations between humans and honeybees, share new perspectives.” And share they have, with a variety of intriguing and insightful artworks that are well worth a trip to 22 North Gallery, in Ypsilanti MI, where the exhibit will be on view until September 30.
In the cooperative, hardworking and self-effacing spirit of the honeybee, the anonymous collective Ann Katrine has created a series of small, wall-mounted artworks that combine the production of insect, bacteria, yeast and humans in a creative relationship. The bees provide the honeycomb and the artists riff on the hexagonal shapes with red embroidery thread, sometimes echoing, sometimes augmenting the shapes. The translucent coating visible on the surface of the works is dried kombucha, a microbial cellulose material which is derived from symbiotic colonies of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). These subtly glowing objects echo the interconnectedness of nature from the microscopic to the insect to the human.
A more playful tone is set by two fashionable and off-beat hats created by Lush Lapel. In Pursuit of Pollen, the honeybee appears as a decorative motif, along with seed pods, feathers and other bits and pieces. The results are fit for a queen bee of any species.
Also seriously fashionable are the brooches, necklaces and rings created by Riva Jewell-Vitale. Her multi-piece wall-mounted installation of jewelry, entitled Colony, demonstrates her considerable talent as a collagist. She creates inventive combinations of unexpected components that somehow result in elegant and mysterious wearable sculptures.
A more reverential note on the honeybee as Nature’s martyr and saint is struck by Ryan Bogan. His insect reliquary, Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb, features the tiny body of a honeybee suspended in a glass dome surrounded by precious gold leaf. Lovingly crafted and carefully composed, this piece wouldn’t be out of place in a modern religious setting.
If you are planning a trip to Ypsi to see For Forage, remember that 22 North, like many other arts spaces in the Detroit metro area, is open during limited hours during weekdays and on weekends, or by appointment. To find out more about the gallery’s exhibits and events go here.
Or call: 501.454.6513
Artists in For Forage: Meagan Shein, Brad Naftzger, Heather Leigh, Ann Katrine Collective, Owen Wittekindt, Marshelia Williams, Michael O’Dell Jr., Rive Jewell-Vitale, Jonathan J. Sandberg with Kevin Kwiatkowski, Ryan Bogan, Lush Lapel
Ypsilanti is the next Brooklyn!
Okay…maybe not, but there is definitely something going on in the town we, here in Michigan, affectionately know as “Hipsilanti.”
After years of suffering by comparison to nearby Ann Arbor’s more affluent economy, Ypsilanti shows signs of becoming a magnet for area creatives. Cheap work space and the presence of a particularly vibrant studio arts department at Eastern Michigan University are making the logic of locating an arts practice in Ypsi inescapable for many. Look no further for confirmation of this than the terrific work from Ypsi Alloy Studios, on view now until August 28 at 22 North, a newish art gallery on Huron Street in Ypsi’s downtown.
Echos is the inaugural exhibition for this talented collective of artists and makers, many of them graduates of Eastern Michigan University’s art program. 22 North’s exhibit space is thoughtfully renovated, with the rich patina of vintage plaster walls still visible behind pristine white gallery panels that show off these uniformly excellent and well-conceived artworks. Objects on display range from an industrial strength rocking chair by Rob Todd to ethereal layered weavings by Cathy Jacobs. The exhibit is notable for the variety of approaches and processes demonstrated in the production of artworks.
I particularly liked the aluminum, white gold and thread piece Broken Flag by Aaron Patrick Decker, as well as the felted wool and burl Invasive by Ilana Houten and Stripped/Burned by Lauren Mieczko and Molly Doak. And as ever, I remain a fan of the death-in-nature sensibility of Jessica Tenbusch’s delicate metal, wood and bone pieces.
My hands-down favorite piece, however, was the grave and comic Fascia by Riva Jewell Vitale. This collection of found fragments from the back yard of the artist treats us to a kind of implied storytelling through the curation of objects. Each shard and scrap seems both ancient and recognizably contemporary. The careful arrangement of these bits of detritus hint at the unobserved, untold and unknowable everyday history of things and people.
Fascia is also typical of a trend that I notice in art being made right now. Artists are collecting and curating existing objects and images rather than creating them. It is as if there is already so much rich material in our world that we no longer need to produce fresh content. And judging from the satisfyingly complex and poignant emotional effect of Fascia, maybe that’s true.
Ypsilanti’s downtown is clearly on the upswing. Many of the gallery’s adjacent storefronts have been purchased and are under renovation according to 22 North gallerist Maggie Spencer. A number of new restaurants and retail stores (and an ice cream shop!) have opened recently. There is ample parking and an active First Fridays program, the next one of which is scheduled for September 2.
22 North, like many other arts spaces in the Detroit metro area, is open during limited hours during weekdays and on weekends, or by appointment. Find out more about the gallery’s exhibits and events (it’s also an active music venue) here.
Or call: 501.454.6513
Artists in Echos: Kenzie Lynn, Aaron Patrick Decker, Cathy Jacobs, Riva Jewell-Vitale, Ilana Houten, Jessica Tenbusch, Meagan Shein, Lauren Mleczko, Molly Doak, Alexa Borromeo, Elize Jakabson, Lorraine Kolasa, Rob Todd
Are you an Ypsi artist? What do you think about the art scene there right now? I’d be interested to hear what you think.