At Odds: "Oh, Honey ... A Queer Reading of UMMA's Collection" imagines a place where LGBTQ+ art can thrive

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Chitra Ganesh, Sultana's Dream: The Visitation, linocut on paper, 2018

Chitra Ganesh, Sultana's Dream: The Visitation, linocut on paper, 2018

Art is often intentionally ambiguous, asking viewers to create meaning and metaphorically fill in the blanks with their interpretations.

So, then, what is queer art anyway?

(Spoiler! This exhibit will not define it for you.)

In Oh, Honey ... A Queer Reading of UMMA's Collection, compiled by doctoral candidate and 2019-2020 Irving Stenn Jr. curatorial fellow Sean Kramer, there is no essential “queerness” harnessed and presented in a neat package. Instead, the exhibit is framed by the words of activist, author, and professor bell hooks: “Queer as being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live.”

The University of Michigan Museum of Art is now fully open to the public, but Oh, Honey—UMMA's first self-described queer exhibit—went live virtually in fall 2020. Even so, the online exhibit doesn't have the same impact due to Kramer’s curatorial approach: the physicality and placement of the works affect their readings.

In this vein, it is important to note that each artwork was created by a different artist with a unique relationship to the external world; not everybody defines queerness or “queer art” in the same way. 

Highlighting History: "Harold Neal and Detroit African American Artists: 1945 through the Black Arts Movement"

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Harold Neal, title unknown, before 1958, oil on board. Neal family collection, Detroit.

Harold Neal, title unknown, before 1958, oil on board. Neal family collection, Detroit.

Though Detroit is synonymous with musical innovation, the Michigan cultural center is not frequently framed as an epicenter of fine art. In a new exhibit, curators suggest that this is not because Detroit lacks—now or in the past—a vibrant art scene but because of historical oversight on the parts of art historians.

Eastern Michigan University’s University Gallery is the first place to host what will be a traveling exhibit with an in-depth look at an era, movement, and place in Harold Neal and Detroit African American Artists: 1945 through the Black Arts Movement. (You can also view the virtual exhibition here.)

The exhibit and presents a view of post-World War II African-American art history "essentially unknown to other scholars,” as the catalog states, and took 10 years to research. Julia R. Myers conducted interviews with artists, scholars, friends, and families of the featured artists, and located many works in private collections. Additionally, research was conducted by reading through numerous news sources, including the Detroit-based African-American newspaper Michigan Chronicle.

The Gutman Gallery emerges for Artober with a new exhibition featuring rising artists

VISUAL ART

Bryan Wilson, Wonderful Beauty

Bryan Wilson, Wonderful Beauty

Artober is a celebration of arts, taking place October 9 and 10 along Fourth Avenue and into the Kerrytown Market. There will be around 75 selected fine artists, live entertainment, food trucks, craft beer, cider, and free admission.

The Guild of Artists & Artisans is kicking off its part of the Artober celebration with a new exhibition, Emerge, an all-media exhibition featuring work from young and rising artists in its Gutman Gallery.

Emerge, juried by local teaching artist Payton Cook, features 22 works from 15 talented artists ranging from middle school, high school, and college students as well as works from talented adult artists who are newish to the gallery scene. The exhibit represents a variety of styles and techniques, with a focus on exploration and experimentation, from sculpture and collage to photography and mixed media.

The Guild will also be hosting a socially distanced open-house-style reception on Friday, October 15, 4-6 pm. Artists, patrons, and community members are invited to experience the exhibition and meet some of the artists in a laid-back atmosphere. Visit Gutman Gallery’s Emerge Facebook Event for opening reception details, exhibition updates, and artist highlights.

Below are some more works featured in the exhibition:

Systemic Pigeonholing: "Never Free to Rest" by Rashaun Rucker at U-M's LSA Gallery

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Rashaun Ruckers' Left at First Light and The Ascent

Left: Left at First Light by Rashaun Rucker is part of Never Free to Rest, a new exhibition on view until Oct. 15 at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Gallery.
Right: The Ascent by Rashaun Rucker is part of Never Free to Rest, a new exhibition on view until Oct. 15 at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Gallery.

Rashaun Rucker begins his artist statement for Never Free to Rest at U-M's Institute for the Humanities Gallery with a simple definition:

Pi.geon.hole (verb)
1. To assign to a particular category or class, especially in a manner that is too rigid or exclusive.
Synonyms: categorize, classify, label, typecast, ghettoize

In this exhibit, the Detroit-based artist examines the impact of pigeonholing Black men’s identities through a series of drawings and installations. Rucker's artist statement says he “compares the life and origins of the rock pigeon to the stereotypes and myths of the constructed identities of Black men in the United States of America.”

The Future Is NOW: "Stephanie Dinkins: On Love & Data" at U-M Stamps Gallery

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Stephanie Dinkins, Secret Garden (Detail)

Stephanie Dinkins, Secret Garden (detail). Image courtesy Stamps Gallery.

“Binary calculations are inadequate to assess us,” states transmedia artist Stephanie Dinkins, and she approaches AI and technology with this premise in mind.

Her work is a constant unsettling and renegotiation of current technological and social power systems, achieved by asking audiences to consider and create what she calls "NOW." Through her concept of Afro-now-ism, she proposes a collaborative project in which audience members work to dismantle normative, often violent technological structures and build new, inclusive ones.

The Stamps Gallery's Stephanie Dinkins: On Love & Data is the first sur­vey of works by this artist "who cre­ates plat­forms for dia­logue about arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence as it inter­sects race, gen­der, aging, and our future histories.” She makes interactive works that tell us our futures begin now, so we must work to create the world we wish to see.

At the front of the gallery space, a 2021 work titled Afro-now-ism welcomes visitors into the space. A large neon sign reads "AFRO-NOW-ISM," with the words "NOW" and "OWN" illuminated in yellow and intersecting the bright purple and red of "AFRO-NOW-ISM," creating a cross-like design. The gallery wall text illuminates the work:

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.