U-M Gifts of Art spring exhibitions aim to revitalize and renew

VISUAL ART REVIEW

John Dempsey's acrylic painting at U-M's Gifts of Art spring exhibition

John Dempsey's paintings at Gifts of Art display surreal amalgams of environments.

Michigan Medicine’s Gifts of Art program regularly supports artists while working to “revitalize and enrich lives” of patients and visitors. The latest Gifts of Art series on display in various parts of University Hospital is available to view through June 10. The eight small exhibits in Gifts of Art's nine galleries feature the works of artists Tina West, Richard Light, John Dempsey, Mary Brodbeck, Aimee Lee, Re Kielar, f8collective, and WCC faculty, staff, and students.

UMMA's "Exercising the Eye" shows how Gertrude Kasle expanded the Midwest art scene in the 1950s

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Grace Hartigan, Fells Point Florist painting

Grace Hartigan, Fells Point Florist, 1982, oil on canvas. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Bequest of Gertrude Kasle, 2016/2.90. © The Grace Hartigan Estate.

The University of Michigan Museum of Art’s exhibition Exercising the Eye: The Gertrude Kasle Collection presents an array of works by influential artists of the 20th century. Many of these artists, as pointed out by the exhibition organizers, were, in part, brought to prominence in the Midwest by Gertrude Kasle’s (1917-2016) promotion of their works. 

"Labors of Love and Loss" exhibition explores race, gender, and class with mixed media

VISUAL ART INTERVIEW

Lisa Olson's Split mixed-media art

Lisa Olson's Split (aquatint etching and found photograph).

The U-M Institute for Research on Women and Gender and the Department of Women’s Studies exhibition Labors of Love and Loss is a collection of mixed-media pieces exploring gender and race and "considers the intertwined lives of caregivers, their dependents and charges.” The exhibition presents the works of Marianetta Porter and Lisa Olson, featuring processes such as letterpress combined with found objects. Though Porter and Olson’s works differ in some respects, they create a cohesive, important dialogue about the history of women’s work and the intersections between race, gender, and class, expertly portrayed through text and object. 

What exactly is the exhibit, and what are the Labors of Love and Loss that the title refers?

Germán Andino addresses Honduran gang violence in the #NoHumanIsAlien exhibition at U-M

VISUAL ART PREVIEW

German Andino standing next to his #NoHumanIsAlien exhibition at U-M

Comic-based journalism, where an artist tells reported stories with his or her drawings, has the benefit of addressing sensitive issues with a bit of emotional distance that doesn't always exist in the more immediate video- and audio-based storytelling. It can also give reluctant participants the freedom to tell their difficult and dangerous tales without a direct visual representation, which could put their lives at risk.

Joe Sacco is a pioneer of graphic journalism as shown in his many books, including Palestine (2001), Safe Area Gorazde (2002), and Journalism (2013). In Sacco's wake a mini-movement of graphic journalism has emerged, such as Sarah Glidden’s How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less (2016), Wendy MacNaughton's Meanwhile in San Francisco: The City in Its Own Words (2014), and Germán Andino's El Hábito de la Mordaza / The Habit of Silence (2016).

Indigenous Inspiration: Power couple donates Inuit art collection to UMMA

VISUAL ART PREVIEW

Kathy and Philip Power

Kathy and Philip Power hold Walking Bear—Unidentified artist (Inukjuak), ca. 1950, stone, ivory. Photo courtesy of UMMA.

Hail to the University of Michigan Museum of Art -- its Victor campaign just found a new leader in donations and it's the best.

Philip and Kathy Power donated $4.5 million worth of Inuit art, making UMMA one of the most important museums for creative works from the indigenous peoples of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland.

Joyce Brienza's "Floating Points" exhibit explores dichotomous realities

VISUAL ART INTERVIEW

Joyce Brienza's Hands painting

Joyce Brienza's Madonna painting

Joyce Brienza's Hands (top) and Madonna.

Detroit-based artist and University of Michigan lecturer Joyce Brienza received her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Wayne State University and earned an MFA at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. She has exhibited her paintings nationally and internationally, and her work addresses often-dichotomous themes, exploring her interest in “places between.”

I talked to Brienza about her Floating Points exhibit in the Rotunda Gallery at U-M's North Campus Research Complex, which engages with themes of the unconscious/conscious, male/female, and high/low art. 

Dalia Reyes' "Rainbow Body" exhibit explores cosmic lightness

VISUAL ART INTERVIEW

Three paintings by Dalia Reyes

Portal practice: Dalia Reyes' painitngs explore metaphysical concepts.

Dalia Reyes is a Detroit-based artist and arts administrator with an undergraduate degree from the College for Creative Studies. In her artist statement for the exhibition Rainbow Body at the Connections Gallery in U-M's North Campus Research Complex, Reyes suggests her work “focuses on pushing fantasy into everyday scenery; where plants have names and all that glitters is definitely gold.”

I caught up with Reyes to ask a few questions about her process, cosmic fantasy, and upcoming projects.

Ann Arbor Art Center's "Art Now: Drawing" leaps off the page

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Lilian Crum's Untitled 1607

Lilian Crum's Untitled 1607 won second place in Ann Arbor Art Center's Art Now: Drawing exhibition.

What is drawing now?

This is one question the Art Now: Drawing exhibition at the Ann Arbor Art Center asks its viewers.

As it turns out, drawing is more than just ink or graphite on paper.

Causing Moments: WSG Gallery's “Lynda Cole: Recent Places and Themes”

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Lynda Cole, Two-2

Lynda Cole's Two-2; oil stick, cold wax on Terraskin, mounted on Gator Board.

Local artist Lynda Cole is back at the WSG Gallery with another adventure in abstraction that’s as much about her sense of self as it is an exploration of art itself.

The last time we saw her work was in November 2015 when she held North to be as much a state of mind as it is a navigational direction. As I wrote at that time, Cole’s North exhibition was a “fusing of time and space -- through a particular state of mind.”

Her Recent Places and Themes is more of the same. As Cole says in her gallery statement, “Months ago, when I began working on paintings for this show, I was exploring the simple way in which two colors would interact.”

UMMA's "Aftermath: Landscapes of Devastation" ponders our relationship to disaster images

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Peter Turnley, New York, 9-11

Peter Turnley's New York, 9-11-01, 2001, archival pigment print; University of Michigan Museum of Art; gift of David and Jennifer Kieselstein, 2016/2.504.

Aftermath: Landscapes of Devastation is a small, excellently curated photo exhibition at UMMA that addresses the relationship between disasters, their images, and viewers. Chronicling an immense range of historical disasters, the exhibit is comprised of shots from the beginning days of photography that have captured remnants of destruction.