“Human identity is built upon strong currents that are constantly changing, [over] ... a well-traveled riverbed of history.”
Detroit artist, gallerist, and thinker Adnan Charara knows a thing or two about art and about history, and in Constructs (Noun), a colorful and comical exhibit of his recent paintings, he shows himself an able architect of identity, using bits and pieces of art history to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Twelve large acrylic paintings from two different, but related, bodies of work form the substance of this beautifully installed exhibit, on view at the Rotunda Gallery in Building 18 of the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Center until December 18.
The idea that fashion is cyclical, and that “certain silhouettes repeat themselves with minor changes,” is not a new one. It is, however, an interesting starting point for thinking about articles of clothing throughout 20th century in America.
The exhibit Looking Back: 20th Century Dress From the Historic Costume Collection, curated by Jessica Hahn, can be seen at the Duderstadt Center at University of Michigan through October 6. The show displays a full range of garments from 1900 to 1999. The show posits that despite the use and re-use of certain styles and silhouettes throughout time, the textiles used and their production styles, as well as attitudes toward dress itself, changed drastically. The 20th century was an era in which fashion changed at a faster rate than ever before. There were a number of factors that contributed to this shift that are explored through the inclusion of objects and wall text.
It’s not unfair to say Swarm Study/II is a visual art experience that will long stay with you. But such an accolade is also far too passive. If given the chance, Swarm Study/II will not only stay with you -- it will literally follow you.
This 2011 site-specific installation on display in the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s Irving Stenn Jr. Family Project Gallery, mounted through the courtesy of the Maxine and Stewart Frankel Foundation for Art, is held in conjunction with the museum’s Victors for Art: Michigan’s Alumni Collectors -- Part II: Abstraction exhibition.
With over 70 photographs on view in locations throughout Ann Arbor, In Transit is a lively, four-headed monster of an exhibition. From the back hall of the City Council Chambers to The Session Room on Jackson Avenue, to the buses (inside and outside) of TheRide, this collection of photos by current and former photography students at Washtenaw County Community College will be all over town for the next three months.
But the best place to see all these photographs celebrating the local places and people of southeastern Michigan is right now through September 30 in Gallery 117 of the Ann Arbor Art Center.
GLOSS: Modeling Beauty is a thoughtfully curated exhibition that focuses on the impact of fashion photography on the history of photography. The show explores “the shifting ideals of female beauty” in American and European visual culture starting in the 1920s with the work of Edward Steichen. The exhibition examines not only fashion photography and images from advertising campaigns but features documentary photography by Elliott Erwitt, Joel Meyerowitz, and Ralph Gibson, captured images of women and mannequins in urban environments. Furthermore, artists James Van Der Zee, Eduardo Paolozzi, and Nikki S. Lee “employ the visual strategies of traditional fashion photography, while offering alternative narratives to mainstream notions of female beauty.”
But despite a deep interest in the overlap of politics and art in the 20th and 21st centuries, I wasn’t quite prepared for this collection of powerful, in-your-face images. I’m also glad that I have until October 14 to fully explore the exhibits.
One component of the ongoing Rasa Festival can be seen through September 30 at the Riverside Arts Gallery in Ypsilanti. Riverside Arts Gallery’s lower-level space houses many large, vibrant, and gestural paintings, and geometric, mandala designs in ritualistic floor art known as rangoli, alpana, or kolam.
The show, Madhavi: Illusion’s Beer, which is a part of 2017’s Rasa Festival exhibitions, collectively focuses on the Navarasa (Nine Rasas). This can also be translated as “the nine moods,” which are various facets of Indian aesthetics. These facets include love/beauty, laughter, sorrow, anger, heroism/courage, terror/fear, disgust, surprise/wonder, and peace/tranquility.
During the Ann Arbor Comics Art Festival -- aka A2CAF -- in June, cartoonist Jerzy Drozd interviewed his fellow author-illustrator Ben Hatke about his work. The two were on the third floor of the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library, standing in front of the framed works that comprise the exhibition Ben Hatke: Art and Adventure:
Explore the plucky heroes, eerie monsters, and fabulous realms of artist and author Ben Hatke in an exhibition of original art from his picture books and graphic novels. Illustrations and watercolors from Nobody Likes a Goblin, Zita the Spacegirl, Julia’s House for Lost Creatures, and a few surprises. (The exhibition runs through August 31.)
The talk between Drozd and Hatke runs 41 minutes. Pressed for time? Grab the MP3; the conversation works fine as a podcast. Or if you want to skip around, see the list below with the topics discussed and their times in the video/MP3:
The 2017 University of Michigan Alumni Exhibition Ambiguities/Innuendoes? Go Fish features an eclectic collection of alumni works that engage, in varying capacities, with the terms “ambiguity” and “innuendo.” The annual exhibition allows STAMPS alumni to show their work. This year, work represented over 70 years of alumni from 1955 to 2016. This year, the exhibition featured juror Brian Kennedy, the president, director, and CEO of the Toledo Museum of Art.
The University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance's “Summit of Creativity: A Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles’ of 'Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band'" drew experts from across the country in June to examine and analyze this timeless music with an academic panache typically reserved for the likes of Shakespeare, Gilgamesh, and radioisotopes.
By contrast, U-M musicologist Walter Everett’s 46-item exhibit 50th Anniversary of the Release of 'Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band' is tidy in comparison to the sprawling analysis bestowed on The Beatles and this record in particular. Both the band and Sgt. Pepper's are now part of the firmament in our shared cultural and intellectual history, and they are now well worthy of deep study and scrutiny. But The Beatles certainly didn’t conceive the album with all that in mind.