UMMA's "Claim Your Space" campaign encourages people to find their place at the museum

VISUAL ART FILM & VIDEO

UMMA's Claim Your Space

Ostensibly, the "Claim Your Space" promo video was made to highlight the University of Michigan Museum of Art's extending its Thursday through Sunday hours starting Sept. 7 and a new effort to attract people to the building.

But the video isn't just an ad for UMMA; it's a work of art that stands by itself and shows off the immense creative talent of the U-M students who made it.

Kool Ade Kam aka Kam Komics aka Kamron Reynolds is a Washtenaw County Creative With Drive, Energy, and a whole lot of multifaceted talent

MUSIC VISUAL ART

Kamron Reynolds

"It's your friendly neighborhood comic book artist and rapper, Kool Ade Kam," wrote Kamron Reynolds in an email that was as breezy and direct as his stylings on the mic.

I knew the Ann Arbor-raised, Ypsi-residing Reynolds' art via his DIY comic-book series Kam Komics and his cover illustration for fellow rapper Nickie P's recent EP, Collective Thought. But I had somehow missed Reynolds' own music until I discovered his new and joyous Strictly for My Homies mini-album on Bandcamp—his ninth release as a solo artist. That led me back to The Gostbustaz, his long-running hip-hop group, whose members include "Bredd Loaf, JU-C Juice, and Grandmaster Kas," Kam said. "Sometimes Ant the Champ is in the group too. I don’t really know what the future of the Gostbustaz is. I think for the Gostbustaz to happen again we’d all have to sit down and talk about it."

The Gostbustaz last released a slew of singles in 2016, including the absolute banger "Banned in Ann Arbor," which is based on a massive guitar riff.

U-M Medical School's "Looking for a Silver Lining: Art in the Time of Covid" exhibit offers smartphone photography from the staff

VISUAL ART

 Kelvin Chou, M.D. Professor of Neurology Department of Neurology, ​ Family Walk

Family Walk by Kelvin Chou, M.D., Professor of Neurology, Department of Neurology

​It's easy to dismiss the Instagram-ification of the art of photography, but any democratization of creative endeavors should be celebrated. Smartphones allow everyone to chance upon one perfect shot and capture that moment, often with stunning results.

The University of Michigan Medical School's new online exhibit, Looking for a Silver Lining: Art in the Time of Covid, offers a collection of smartphone photography from those who work there, from doctors and project managers to nurses and administrative coordinators. 

Art Coordinator Grace Serra writes:

"Daisy Chain" features nine artists discussing what it means to emerge from the pandemic

VISUAL ART

The word "re-entry" has been popping up a lot as of late—and not just because two billionaires flew themselves into space.

It's because after the past 17 months of being in lockdown, many of us are re-entering society for the first time this summer. Going back to offices, reconnecting with friends and family, walking into places without a mask that we would have never considered entering even with one as the pandemic raged.

Amanda Krugliak, an arts curator and assistant director of arts programming for the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities, had "re-entry" in mind when she came up with the idea of Daisy Chain, a video 'zine that features her taking to artists Ruth Buentello, Abigail DeVille, Hubert Massey, Shanna Merola, Scott Northrup, David Opdyke, Shani Peters, Sheida Soleimani, and Jeffrey Augustine Songco. Krugliak described the video this way:

AADL Black Lives Matter: Mural Dedication

VISUAL ART PREVIEW

AADL Black Lives Matter murals

Photo by Christopher Porter

On Friday, July 23, at 7 pm, join the Ann Arbor District Library for the dedication of the Black Lives Matter Mural newly installed on Library Lane.

This mural showcases the work of eight Black artists who show what the phrase Black Lives Matter means to them. This project was commissioned by the Ann Arbor District Library in the summer of 2020 as part of its Call for Artists.

Two new outdoor sculpture exhibits offer public art in Washtenaw County

VISUAL ART PREVIEW

Chelsea and Matthaei sculptures

Left: Sean Hages, Nephatia, wood, 4.5’ x 4’ x 5.5”, 2015; part of the 2021 Chelsea Sculpture Walk.
Right: Sculpture tower by Jen Gerrity, Sherry Hall, Ben Mattison, Daria Paik, and Jin Young Yeum at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Photo by Jeri Hollister.

Even with everything starting to open up again—including the University of Michigan Museum of Art—you may understandably still feel a little weird about spending time indoors with other people. But two new outdoor sculpture exhibitions offer the delights of visual art alongside maximum air circulation.

Looking Forward & Back: Ann Arbor Art Fair returns in 2021 after a year's absence

VISUAL ART PREVIEW

Art Fair, July 1960, North side of South University in plaza southeast of West Hall (Engineering Arch), facing southeast

The first Art Fair, July 1960, as seen from the north side of South University, facing southeast. Repository: Bentley Historical Library.

Last year was supposed to be the 60th annual Ann Arbor Art Fair, but it was canceled because of the pandemic. It looked like the 2021 edition wasn't going to happen either, and it was even officially called off for a while, but once it looked like Michigan would start opening up again for the summer, the Art Fair was reinstated and takes place July 15-17.

By this point, you know the drill with Art Fair: parking is difficult, you love or hate the crowded streets, it's usually hot and muggy. But if you need a quick guide to parking and a map of the 2021 event, MLive has a brief article with both.

And if you're wondering what goes into Art Fair prep for the creatives, landscape painter Karin Wager Coron talked to WEMU's David Fair about her routine.

But if you're wondering a bit about the history of the Art Fair, in 2009 the Ann Arbor District Library's archives team put together a wonderful collection of photos, posters, and more on the occasion of the event's 50th anniversary of its conception—conceived in 1959, launched July 20-22, 1960:

UMMA reopens to visitors, offers new and reinstalled exhibitions

VISUAL ART

University of Michigan Museum of Art

Photo courtesy of UMMA.

A recent issue of Hour Detroit magazine asked its freelancers for things they've missed most while the world shut down for the pandemic. Here's one of the items I submitted:

Like many museums, the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) navigated the pandemic by putting its exhibitions online. But art is a dimensional experience, and pieces come to life when viewed in person, offering textures and nuances that are muted on a webpage. UMMA is a 10-minute drive from my front door, a five-minute walk from my office, and yet it has felt a million miles away for the past year. I look forward to shortening the distance between us once again.

Well, the wait is over.

UMMA is open.

Timed-entry reservations are required, but otherwise, Ann Arbor's little gem of an art museum is ready to receive your appreciative glances.

Here's what's currently on display, some events/activities, and what's coming soon:

Using archival materials, photos, and art, Stamps Gallery's "Halal Metropolis" explores the Muslim world of Southeast Michigan

VISUAL ART PREVIEW

U-M Stamps Gallery's Halal Metropolis

Front gallery, Halal Metropolis, Stamps Gallery. Photo by Nick Beardslee.

Dearborn has one the largest Muslim population in the U.S. and Michigan as a whole is in the top 10, but the faith's followers are sometimes overlooked when discussing culture and presence in the Southeastern part of the state.

University of Michigan's Stamps Gallery has hosted an exhibition, Halal Metropolis, since May 22 that explores the Muslim world in Southeast Michigan, blending "archival mate­ri­als, social and polit­i­cal arti­facts, pho­tog­ra­phy, and art to explore the con­gru­ent and con­tra­dict­ing ideas, aes­thet­ics, and cul­tures work­ing to make the halal metrop­o­lis both a real and imag­i­nary entity," according to the gallery's webpage.

Halal Metropolis features works by Amna Asghar, Qais Assali, BGIRL MAMA, Nour Ball­out, Adnan Charara, Kecia Escoe, Parisa Ghaderi, Anthony Keith Giannini, Razi Jafri, Osman Khan, Maamoul Press, Endi Poskovic, Haleem ​‘Stringz’ Rasul, and Reem Taki.

“This is part of a series of exhibitions we’ve presented in recent years that looks at the visibility, and in some sense, the invisibility of the Muslim population in our state,” artist and co-curator Omar Khan told the University of Michigan News in a recent article. “They’re very visible, but in the Detroit narrative, they’re sort of lost.”

In the same piece, artist Razi Jafri said, “Often stories about Muslims in America in general are not very nuanced. They’re presented as monolithic or single-minded. What we want people to really take away from this exhibition is an understanding of how diverse, multiethnic and multicultural we are—and we also want to highlight how Muslims are inextricable from the cultural fabric and of American history.”

I've not had a chance to see the exhibition yet, but it was recently extended to July 20, so it gives us all a chance. The show is free and the gallery is open to the public but it's still appointment only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with advance registration.

In June, Stamps hosted four Zoom chats discussing elements of the show and interviews with some of the artists, creators, chefs, Con­gress­woman Rashida Tlaib, co-cura­tor Sally How­ell, and more. We've collected those videos below along with some images from the gallery and additional short video interviews with some of the artists.

Helicon Haus' "Into the Abyss" explores the bottomless chasm of multidisciplinary art

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Helicon Haus's Into the Abyss

Helicon Haus is a student-run organization associated with the History of Art Undergraduate Society at the University of Michigan. The group hosts annual pop-up art exhibits, publishes writings, and creates arts-related world travel opportunities for its members. But for Helicon Haus' annual art exhibition, anyone may enter.

This year’s call took place in April 2021 and resulted in the online exhibition Into the Abyss, which is the second year in which the submissions were presented a virtual format.

For photosensitive viewers, there is a warning: “This website features flashing images.”

The title Into the Abyss is derived from the French term “mise-en-abîme,” which means “placing into the abyss.” Though each finished work suggests its own interpretation of the abyss, the Helicon Haus collective outlines their definition of the abyss in their “Thoughts on the Abyss.” The Abyss refers to nesting heraldic imagery or the “image within the image.” Artists “dove into the abyss of digital space to create their synergistic works. Displayed virtually, these works are placed into the abyss themselves.” The internet and virtual spaces are defined as an abyss within the parameters of the project. Visually, the concept of the abyss is reinforced with the inclusion of the “black hole” portals on the exhibit homepage.