With fall not too far away, we’re anticipating another season full of vibrant colors and landscapes. However, a lot of that color vibrancy can also be found indoors at several art exhibits this month in Washtenaw County. Check out this list of exhibits featured at local galleries in September.
1968: A Folsom Redemption
September 1-October 20
Chelsea District Library, Chelsea
1968: A Folsom Redemption is a collection of photographs and memories of two journalists—photographer Dan Pousch and writer Gene Beley—lucky enough to be among a handful of eyewitnesses to the historic Johnny Cash concerts at Folsom Prison. The exhibit is available to view in the library's McKune Room.
A Colorful Dream
September 1-October 20
Ypsilanti District Library, Ypsilanti
A Colorful Dream is a family-friendly exhibition by fine art photographer Adrien Broom. Designed to evoke and capture a sense of childhood fantasy, Broom’s work is deeply rooted in fairy tales and mythology, taking the viewer on a journey through the entire spectrum of the rainbow. The exhibit is available to view at the Whittaker branch during library hours.
John Nick Pappas, a retired professor of sculpture and drawing at Eastern Michigan University, died on July 6. He was 88.
Throughout his career, Pappas created sculptures in his Ypsilanti studio for Ann Arbor’s Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital (now Trinity Health Michigan), the University of Michigan’s Medical School campus, Detroit’s Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan headquarters, and other hospitals and public places. He also created a program at EMU to have student art installed on campus.
Pappas’ daughter Catherine Pappas revisited her father’s career in the winter of 2015 for Ypsilanti Gleanings:
“He still runs into former students, even though he’s been retired for many years now. I’ve been with him on more than one occasion when this has happened and I can tell you, it is pretty special. It makes me beam with pride when I see and hear about the incredible role he has played in the lives of many of his students. Back in the late 70’s, three of his graduate students; Ed Olson, Paul Mauren, Jeanne Flanagan and my oldest brother Nick worked with him in his studio to help create the Blue Cross piece, which took four years to complete.”
The rest of Catherine’s story, “My Dad, John Nick Pappas, Sculptor” can be read here.
While we're entering the final stretch of summer, there’s still time to catch several vibrant and innovative art exhibits this month in Washtenaw County. Check out this comprehensive list of exhibits featured at local galleries throughout August.
The (m)Organic Process: Inhale. Exhale. Art. spotlights the creative process and original work of local artist Morgan Burgard. Visitors will experience the process of making art, what it means to Burgard, and what it means to them through a physical exhibit and a virtual experience.
Portraits of Feminism in Japan
Through August 4
Lane Hall Exhibit Space, the University of Michigan’s Institute on Research for Women and Gender, Ann Arbor
The exhibit features original portraits of feminists who have shaped the landscape of women's rights and gender rights in Japan and beyond. Portraits of Feminism in Japan features portraits and accompanying texts from nine contemporary artists in Japan and the U.S. that challenge simplistic understandings of feminism.
The artists also highlight a diversity of experiences, needs, and activism within Japan and cover the history of Japanese studies at the University of Michigan in conjunction with the Center for Japanese Studies’ 75th anniversary.
Featured artists include Elaine Cromie, JenClare B. Gawaran, Takatoshi Hayashi, ivokuma (いぼくま), Nami Kaneko (金子奈美), Kang Jungsook, Lisa Taka Miyagi, Nancy Nishihira (西平・ナンシー), and Shigeki Shibata (柴田滋紀).
Running through July 1, the all-media show features 34 works by 27 artists in the Guild of Artists and Artisans’ storefront space. Built on a theme of “figurative artwork and body diversity,” the exhibit succeeds in offering an engaging mix of media, artistic styles, and subject matter.
A number of the works in the exhibition feature artist statements, often with compelling stories that provide depth. For example, April Shipp’s mixed-media piece The water returned Him is one of the more visually striking pieces in the exhibit, yet knowing the background of the global refugee crises and the story of one particular child who inspired it. Likewise, Jensen Ellington’s My Piece of Eden creatively combines fabric, tree limbs, and thread to connect the Biblical story of Adam’s rib to his own experience as a transgender man. Other pieces stand on their own, such as E. Ingrid Tietz’s elegant Porcelain Muses V which lets her subjects speak to each viewer individually.
Any visitor to the exhibit is likely to come away with a renewed appreciation of the diversity of the human form as well as of the artists and artworks that celebrate it. Noted local artist Nora Venturelli juried the exhibition, and she agreed to answer a few questions about it:
Jason Guenzel has a passion for exploring the cosmos with his camera.
The Michigan-based astrophotographer will appear at the Ann Arbor District Library's Downtown location at 7 pm on June 29 to discuss his love of astrophotography. Guenzel will talk about his journey to the stars, the equipment he uses, and how you can get started in this discipline, which mixes science and art. He'll also present many of his fascinating photos of the cosmos, explaining the specialized techniques he used to capture these breathtaking images.
I spoke with Guenzel ahead of his AADL appearance.
Stamps Gallery launches its second annual "Envision" exhibition, which highlights Michigan-based contemporary artists
The University of Michigan's Stamps Gallery recently opened its second annual exhibit Envision: The Michigan Artist Initiative 2023, featuring works by contemporary artists living and working in the state.
But the finalist for the $5,000 grand prize won't be announced until June 29 at an awards ceremony.
Parisa Ghaderi, Levon Kafafian, and Bakpak Durden are the 2023 Envision finalists and you can see their multimedia pieces on display through July 29. All three artists will make individual appearances at Stamps in July to discuss their work.
You can learn more about the artists and watch four short videos documenting the Envision: The Michigan Artist Initiative 2023 below:
The University of Michigan's North Campus Research Complex (NCRC) is a place for scientists and businesses to develop ideas and projects that can affect real-world change.
The NCRC is also the home of two low-key galleries that run regular exhibitions featuring artists with connections to Michigan (the state and/or the university).
On June 15, 4-7 pm, the NCRC will host a reception for three new exhibits running in the Rotunda and Connection galleries through August 11:
Read more about the artists and their works below:
Watch Frederick Ebenezer Okai’s massive sculpture "When the Gods Speak, Heaven Listens" journey from Ghana to Ann Arbor
The We Write To You About Africa exhibition at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) isn't really an exhibition in the traditional sense.
It launched in 2021, both online and in person, and is scheduled to run indefinitely because rather than being a limited-time display of UMMA's art plus borrowed pieces, it's actually a reinstallation of the Robert and Lillian Montalto Bohlen Gallery of African art with the connected A. Alfred Taubman Gallery II space. The combined rooms double the amount of space the museum can use to highlight art drawn from collections across the U-M campus as well as new additions to UMMA.
The latest work to join We Write To You About Africa is Frederick Ebenezer Okai’s When the Gods Speak, Heaven Listens, a nearly 15-foot-tall sculpture by the Ghanian artist that comes in three parts: a vaselike clay body decorated with various patterns, topped by a ceramic depiction of two humans, with clouds hovering over the other sections.
UMMA released a video that follows the journey of When the Gods Speak, Heaven Listens from Accra, Ghana to Ann Arbor and its installation at the museum. Check it out below:
A Field Guild to Hannah Burr: The Ann Arbor artist creates abstract works that conjure contemplation
Hannah Burr's art seeks to foster connections, not only between the viewer and the work but also between the viewer and the universe. The Ann Arbor artist works in everything from painting and drawing to sculpture and books, but no matter the medium, Burr's art acts as a prompt for observers to consider how they relate to the world around them and beyond.
Burr's dedication to contemplative matters is perhaps best shown in her series of books, such as Contemporary Prayers to * [whatever works] and Elements: a love letter to all things everywhere, which marry aphorisms or scientific facts with abstract paintings and ask readers to observer how they feel when taking in the words, colors, and shapes on the page. Her forthcoming book, Field Guide to Ambiguity, is currently in its Kickstarter phase, and like Elements, is coming out via Fifth Avenue Press, the Ann Arbor District Library's publishing imprint. This follows a 2021 expanded and completely reworked version of Contemporary Prayers, which was published by Simon & Schuster.
Burr is one of more than 80 artists who will display her works at the West Side Art Hop, held annually in Ann Arbor's historic Old West Side. This year's Art Hop runs June 10 and 11; a map of the home/garage/yard venues can be found here, but Burr will be at 701 5th Street.
I caught up with Burr ahead of the West Side Art Hop as she preps Field Guide to Ambiguity and other projects, many of which she documents in her well-maintained blog, Good Bonfire.
A Florida vacation gave Nancy Margolis a "fabulous" idea.
“A couple years ago I saw this exhibit in Sarasota in one of their parks, and it was so fabulous that I talked to their executive director about bringing it here to Washtenaw County," Margolis says.
The public art exhibit featured enormous vinyl banners with images celebrating diversity and inclusion. It was organized by Embracing Our Differences, an organization Sarasota has supported for 20 years. It spotlights pieces created by students from local schools alongside works by artists from around the world to celebrate diverse identities and inclusion.
In the spring of 2021, Margolis began planning the first Embracing Our Differences Michigan banner installations, calling on her professional experience and passion for amplifying diverse voices to build a coalition that would ultimately bring the endeavor to fruition.
“My background is in anti-poverty programs and community organization,” Margolis says. “I brought myself into this project because I was so thrilled with the idea of a good medium for working on diversity and inclusion.”
By the time Embracing Our Differences’ first exhibit was installed at parks in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor in May 2022, Margolis and her initial support team had recruited the support of 100 local organizations. The inaugural Michigan exhibition featured 59 images created by students, adult community members, and professionals.