By Patsy Isenberg
On a chilly Oct. 12, Artwalk brought not only great art but quilts, music and witches. The nip in the air didn’t discourage lots of people from walking around in downtown Flint for sensory experiences found at several galleries and many other businesses that night.
At GFAC the Genesee Star Quilters (GSQ) took over the entire space. Very large handmade quilts created by members adorned the walls. The larger quilts varied widely in their design. Many featured floral and patchwork quilts made from the familiar cotton fabric, reminiscent of the quilts passed down through generations of the craft. But there were also variations using pictures incorporated to convey a theme, geometric modern designs or some that used surprising materials such as a metallic fabric. The craftsmanship and creativity of the quilts is impressive.
According to their founders, the quilting organization began in 1985 and became a non-profit organization in 1990. The mission of the GSQ is to provide education in every aspect of quilting to quilters at every level, from beginners to professionals. The group also works to give service to the community.
Also on display were 16-inch squares, the result of a challenge. Linda McCarron, past president, and Cheryl Wilson, current president of the GSQ, explained the small square animal challenge, which attracted 45 entries. The challenge was to create a design depicting an animal and had to include any size of a piece of the same patterned fabric issued to each participating quilter. The fabric was multi-colored circles of different sizes. Wilson described one that impressed her that had an octopus on it with round dots and used for the “suckers” on the octopus legs.
Wine and an array of snacks and hors d’oeuvres were available to visitors at GFAC that night as well as music by Robin Danek on harp and Marianne Schreiber accompanying with recorders and flute. The two musicians are with Music Royale.
Music as Muse at Mott-Warsh
Across the street, MW Gallery’s current exhibit is “Music as Muse” — all featured pieces inspired by music. One standout piece, “Where did our love go?” is a mixed media textile by Xenobia Bailey commissioned by The Mott-Warsh Collection specifically for Flint. The artist was asked to reflect some facet of Michigan history in her piece. Bailey chose to work a copy of a 45 RPM, Motown’s “Where did our love go?” into her human heart-shaped design.
Also striking were three beautiful metal abstract sculptures that called to mind musical instruments, and a collage by Sam Middleton, “Firebird Suite.” The collage consisted of numerous overlapping two-dimensional fragments, brushstrokes and pencil drawings. In information provided about the artist, Middleton, who died at 88 in 2015, said he “seeks to visually convey the sounds and vibrant, textured style of classical music.” Middleton created the collage in 1991 and “spent a good part of his career creating art about his impressions of the sights and the sounds he associated with jazz, classical, spiritual and gospel music.”
In a room just off the back entrance is “Say It Loud,” Satch Hoyt’s interactive sculptural installation created from books, a stairway and microphone. “Say It Loud” is a James Brown recording, but Hoyt altered the lyrics and offers viewers of the piece an opportunity to climb the steps, grab the mic and put their own spin on it.
A jazz trio was at MW Gallery that night. Terrance Newman on bass, Yohanes Wortham on keyboards and Kyle Canjar on guitar further enhanced the music themes, along with hors d’oeuvres offered to Artwalk guests. The “Music as Muse” exhibit will be at MW Gallery through Jan. 26, 2019.
Hill, Fernandez and Kaye at Buckham
Upstairs at Buckham Gallery “Visiones Reflexivas” an exhibit with a “South of the Border” flavor was on display. Featured artists are Ramon Hill (1943-2016) of Clio, muralist Armando Fernandez and Shelly Kaye.
Hill’s painting, “Pueblo” is striking with its orange clay buildings and blue sky really stood out. The angle and stark complimentary colors have a definite Southwestern look. Square windows on the building are repeated in the sky but with subtle ladders leading to the windows in the sky for a thought-provoking effect.
Fernandez’s large closeup portraits are mesmerizing. One portrait in particular, “Montana,” with its careful and rich detail, displays his strength and skill. In his numerous paintings in the show the Mexican influence is apparent.
Shelly Kaye’s landscapes of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria are telling. Shelly says of her experience in Puerto Rico, “When I embarked on this journey to paint Puerto Rico, I had been there before the hurricane and after the hurricane, and six months after the hurricane I was amazed at how much was still undone.” Kaye cites comparison statistics about the poverty level the hurricane caused. She is very involved in raising money to aid the people of Puerto Rico and is passionate about the effect seeing the devastation there had on her. Quite a few of Kaye’s paintings from her post-hurricane experience in Puerto Rico feature the tilted utility poles so evident everywhere there, she said–which helps get the point across but also creates some very nice angles.
“Visiones Reflexivas” will be at Buckham Gallery from Oct. 12 through Nov. 3.
Life-sized sculptures at Churchill’s
Down the street at Churchills the first thing encountered was a metal sculpture of found objects of a life-sized figure just outside the door by Flint artist Ryan Gregory. The sculpture is dense with objects welded together. The only indication of who created the sculpture is a couple of logos that was left near each of the two done by this artist. The logo reads, “SAUS.” The other piece by this artist is a large sunflower, also by the door.
Another piece that catches the eye is “Playing in the Rain” by Judy Land. It’s a charming composition of three young girls, all in boots, traipsing through puddles of rain water, hair flying. They seem greatly animated by their discovery of birds flying overhead. It nicely captures a moment.
A young man sat at a table in Churchills with a stack of artwork next to him, a half full glass of beer and a drawing pad in front of him. His name is Kenneth Hill, originally from New York, and he was engrossed in working on a very cool black and white ink drawing. He said he doesn’t have any work on display at Artwalk but clearly could.
The witches were at Good Beans Cafe, my last stop that night. It so happened that an event for metaphysical practitioners (tea leaf readers, Reiki providers, fortune tellers, etc.) were meeting that night at Good Beans too, there to offer services to clients interested in exploring those possibilities. Some, but not all, were witches sitting at tables engrossed in helping their clients discover their potentials.
And since October’s Friday night Artwalk coincided with the Flint Festival of Quilts 2018, Good Beans also displayed a few quilts. But the quilts at the cafe were quite different than the ones at GFAC. These were framed and from a few feet away looked just like paintings. The pieces sewn together were tiny. The effect was similar to pointillist paintings from the Impressionist era.
But there was non-quilt art in the cafe, too, including several good photographs. One in particular was an unusual composition and created a kind of mystery as to what these characters were doing, decked out in black and gray and mostly masked. What is this dance? The angles seem just right somehow. A good piece of art, not signed.
Also on the wall was a collage labeled “trouble” by Eliza Gray, identified as a “student long before college.” The piece showed a big lipstick kiss, a map of Genesee County and a newspaper headline reading, “I believe God isn’t done with America yet.” Remarkable. If Friday night’s Artwalk is any manifestation of the divine, let’s hope Eliza Gray’s headline is right.
Quilt in banner photo is “Not From Baltimore” by Virginia Anderson (Photo by Patsy Isenberg).
EVM arts writer Patsy Isenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.