U-M alumnus William Weese donates considerable Chinese ceramics collection to UMMA

VISUAL ART

Wesse Collection - Blue White Vase

Vase, China, Qing dynasty (18th century), soft past porcelain with blue underglaze and painting, Promised gift of William C. Weese, PG2020.2.10

William Weese just dropped a whole lot of Chinese ceramics on the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

Thankfully, the folks at UMMA aren't as clumsy as this post's opening sentence, and the more than 1,000 ceramics and decorative arts donated by alumnus Weese are fully intact and greatly strengthen the museum's already renowned Asian art collection.

Weese's art donation is valued at $3.35 million and he kicked in another $1.7 million for an endowment covering education, research, and programming with the ceramics.

"I have been studying and collecting Chinese art and ceramics since the early 1980s—the craftsmanship and history of the works has fascinated me my entire life," Weese said in a story published by Michigan News.

The Weese collection is rich with pieces from the Ming and Qing dynasties, and select pieces will be on view in person at UMMA in fall 2021. But the museum has already put together an extensive, feature-rich website that can be viewed now.

Below are a few more images from the Weese collection:

WSG Gallery's "The World Turns With and Without People" and "Silence and Breezes" explore nature and, sometimes, humans

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Cathryn Amidei, Permission to Exit IV

Cathryn Amidei, Permission to Exit IV, handwoven with cotton, rayon, and polyester threads

The artists at WSG Gallery are experts at creating impressive responses to themed prompts. For March's exhibit, Silences and Breezes, WSG artists created selections that range from action paintings influenced by music to calming and atmospheric representations of the natural world. April's theme is The World Turns With and Without People, but like March's show, many of the selected works seem to buzz with anticipation for warm weather.

WSG Gallery continues exhibiting virtually on its website—where past shows can also be seen—and in the 117 Gallery at Ann Arbor Art Center, which is where The World Turns With and Without People will be through May 3. 

Inspired by Little Free Libraries, two miniature art galleries have popped up in Ann Arbor

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Free Little Art Gallery and Take Art Leave Art

Left: Marie McMahon Parmer stands in front of her Free Little Art Gallery. Photo from Instagram.
Right: Some of the recent items at Take Art Leave Art. Photo by Shawn Bungo via Instagram.

The trend of placing a Little Free Library in front of your home/school/business and filling it with books is such a feel-good story—barren boxes or those filled with water-stained dregs from someone's basement notwithstanding—that it's surprising variations on this haven't happened: Canned Goods Rejected by Your Children Cupboard, Clothes That Your Kids Wore Once and Then Never Grabbed From the Bottom of Their Dresser Drawers Boutique, Sporting Goods I Thought I Could Sell for More Than I Was Offered Shoppe.

But Pittsfield Township's Shawn Bungo and Ann Arbor's Marie McMahon Parmer recently launched clever variations on the Little Library ideal by offering free art.

Yasmine Nasser Diaz's "For Your Eyes Only" invites viewers to wrestle with our public-private lives in the Digital Age

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Yasmine Nasser Diaz's "For Your Eyes Only"

Photo by Juliet Hinely, U-M Institute for the Humanities.

Over the course of the past year, art spaces have shifted from in-person to primarily online, marking an enormous—and sometimes challenging—shift in the experience of an exhibition. Though many galleries and museums have now reopened at least partially, one artist’s recent exhibit bypasses concerns about whether to invite bodies into enclosed spaces. In fact, artist Yasmine Nasser Diaz created a space that's intended to be viewed from outside. Her latest exhibition, For Your Eyes Only, featured in the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Gallery through April 16, questions the boundaries of public and private space through the inaccessible, room-sized installation, which can be viewed from the street outside the gallery.

With the weather warming, now might be a better time to visit the exhibit than when I first attended in mid-February, when I rushed over on opening day. I was eager to participate voyeuristically, as both someone who has avoided public and private spaces during the pandemic, and a fan of installations that mimic a now-foreign “normal life.”

University of Michigan's annual Prison Creative Arts Project goes online for the 25th edition

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Alvin Smith's painting Pointless Acquisitions

Alvin Smith, Pointless Acquisitions, from the 25th Prison Creative Arts Project exhibition.

For more than two decades, the University of Michigan's annual Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) has showcased the creative work of incarcerated people with an annual exhibition. The 25th edition of PCAP runs March 16-31, but it will be entirely online. While the pandemic forced PCAP to the virtual space, it's been on the organization's to-do list for a while.

“I hope that our artists are gratified to know that their work will be seen far beyond the gallery in Ann Arbor this year,” said Nora Krinitsky, director of PCAP, in a story published by U-M's Michigan News. “In that way, even though this is an unusual year, we’re able to serve PCAP’s mission of connecting people impacted by the justice system with those in the free world more than ever before.” 

Gallery viewers will be able to purchase the art via phone, and the artists receive 100% of the net sales revenue. PCAP associate director Vanessa Mayesky told Michigan News:

UMMA + Chill serves up virtual social engagements with a side helping of art

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UMMA + Chill

Michigan is already a tough place to be during the winter. Double triple quadruply so when you can't go anywhere.

That's why the University of Michigan Museum of Art has created a series of online events that encourage you to travel the spaceways of your mind in order to deal with this oppressive season (and all the other things going on).

UMMA + Chill is a series of programs throughout February—and perhaps beyond since winter in Michigan usually ends in, what, mid-June?—that will allow you to connect with fellow art fans via group-chat Zoom tours of the museum's interior while accompanied by a drinks mixologist, in-person outdoor tours, music playlists, meditation sessions, poem writing, game shows, live performances, film screenings, luminary art-making, and 30-minute discussions with a chef, cultural curators, and more.

Catching up with WSG Gallery's "Blue," "Winter Show," and "Something About the Light" exhibits

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Takeshi Takahara, Out of the Mud II

Takeshi Takahara, Out of the Mud II, multiple color intaglio and woodcut with mica printed on Japanese paper. From the WSG Gallery exhibition Something About the Light.

Since its launch in late May, WSG’s online gallery has hosted seven exhibits, six of which are technically “over."

But they are all still available for viewing on the online exhibitions information page, a benefit not available to latecomers to the gallery's offerings when it had a physical space at 306 S Main Street, which was shuttered in May 2020 when WSG lost its lease.

WSG Gallery's three most recent exhibits offer meditative spaces, addressing the color blue, winter, and light as themes. 

Blue, the exhibit featured from November to December 2020, presented works of 14 WSG Gallery Artists and is described on the website as ranging from:

Review: "Story Word Sound Sway" exhibit at Stamps Gallery

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Wes Taylor, Ann Arbor Undercommons

Wes Taylor (BFA ’04), Ann Arbor Undercommons, 2020, Installation detail. Lead Archivist Jamall Bufford with assistance from Athletic Mic League. Photo by Nick Beardslee.

The MFAs and BFAs produced each year by the nation’s academic art programs far exceed the ability of the art establishment—fine art galleries, museums, collectors, and the like—to absorb them.

What happens to all those aspiring and hopeful young creatives upon graduation?

How do contemporary artists pay rent and continue to work in a world that doesn’t reliably support them financially?

The Story Word Sound Sway exhibit at Stamps Gallery from now until February 28 provides a provocative answer of sorts. 

Michigan Art Gallery's "Her Joyful Eye" is a calming exhibition of paintings by late U-M prof Mignonette Yin Cheng

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Mignonette Yin Cheng, #106 Landscape

Mignonette Yin Cheng, #106 Landscape, 40 1/4 x 30 1/4” acrylic and gouache on paper, undated.

If there's ever been a season that’s needed contemplative art, this is it.

Ypsilanti's Michigan Art Gallery has mounted an exhibit that's meant to give us this reflective opportunity.

Mignonette Yin Cheng: Her Joyful Eye, currently on display in-house at the Michigan Gallery—and accessible online—illustrates the fact that contemplation doesn't come by easily. It has to be earned.

As seen in this late University of Michigan art professor emerita's comprehensive retrospective, contemplation took Cheng a lifetime of effort. Based on the evidence at hand, not only was it a matter of artistic discipline but also an iron-clad disposition. There's a cool detachment to Chen's art that focuses her viewer’s eye on the minute observations she makes in her composition.

As the Michigan Gallery's gallery statement tells us, “Born in 1933 near Amoy, China, Cheng received her first training at the Russian Academy of Arts in Shanghai learning traditional Chinese drawing and painting techniques. Arriving in the United States in 1955, her style of painting evolved into a vibrant, gestural expression of her unique background and cultural influence.”

A guide to the Ann Arbor Art Center's Art in Public Places murals project

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A2AC Murals Map

Ann Arbor has innumerable large- and small-scale murals already, but they have new company as the result of a crowdfunded project to bring art to walls and alleys around town.

In July, the Ann Arbor Art Center (A2AC) raised more than $50,000 to commission 10 murals around the city. The fundraiser was through Patronicity, and once the goal was met, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) matched the donations to double the money available to the mural artists. At the onset of the project, 10 artists paired with local business owners on the sites of their future murals. In October, two additional murals were announced, raising the total to 12. This initiative is part of the ongoing A2AC Art in Public program that aims to make art “accessible and equitable to everyone,” relying on community-based donations.

Since the Art Center helped crowdfund two other public murals in the recent past, those have been added to the A2AC Murals Map, which features a walking tour of all the works. Currently, 13 murals are finished, with the 14th debuting sometime in 2021.

Here's a rundown of all A2AC's mural commissions, starting with the two that were preludes to the larger project.