River’s Edge Gallery – A Change of Pace

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A friend invited me to the opening of “The Motor City Griot Society” by Steve Galzer, a ceramic artist, at the River’s Edge Gallery in Wyandotte,MI on June 20, 2014. Wyandotte is a community in the Detroit Metro area which is about 25 miles south of me. I have never been there so this was my first trip into a “Down River” community. During the last leg of the trip, I looked out my window to the left and saw that the community was on the Detroit River and had city parks to take advantage of the location. I soon arrived in the center of Wyandotte and went looking for a place to park. I got stuck in traffic.

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I found a place to park about a block from the gallery and considered myself lucky since the central business was alive with people and I could hear a performer singing under a tent about a block towards the river. As I got out of my car, I saw that I had beat the horse and carriage.

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It had been a rainy day and was still sprinkling at times. I walked across the street and wandered into a gallery that seemed to specialize in craft work. I wandered out again and decided to go to River’s Edge around the corner.

The gallery was a small gallery that had an eclectic assortment of art. They had paintings, mobiles, photos, sculptures, blown glass, ceramics, mixed media and more. I spotted the 40 piece griot collection on the far wall.

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I began to look around and saw some blown glass and ceramics.

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The gallery was on three floors and they were serving snacks on the second floor. They had an assortment of hummus, crackers, cheese and fruits. I sat in one of the chairs to look at he art. I had a seat where I could see quite a few pieces. I like this method of looking. I allow myself to slow down and my eyes go from piece to piece. I first saw a sculpture of a hand..

20140622-115343-42823590.jpg At first glance, it was an accurate rendition of a hand. By taking my time, I began to see how complex it was. If I rush, I just see the whole and miss all the details that are so extraordinary.

I walked downstairs just as my friend came in. It was fun to watch her make some of the same discoveries. There was to be music which was billed as “soul hop”, a combination of soul and hip hop. We chatted while waiting for the music. When the sic started we listened for a moment and continued to chat.

After chatting and touring all three floors we went to a coffee shop on the corner and had coffee to end the evening.

A Gift From My Mother

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After visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts recently, I realized how enthusiastic I get when I see certain pieces. The one above by Odilon Redon called “Evocation of Butterflies” painted about 1910 is one of the ones I like. It reminds me so much of some of the colors and design elements used in the 1960s. When you see it in person, there are some absolutely brilliant dabs of color that are almost iridescent.

While I was growing up, I’m sure my mother took me to the available art museum and galleries several times a year. When we traveled or went on vacation, we always went to the art museums. I can remember all the talk around me about art. When we walked through a gallery or a museum, she talked about the paintings and the artists.

She also painted as a hobby. There was almost always a painting in progress or some other art project in the house.

I only have one of her paintings (pictured below) and it was not her favorite. When I look at it though, I remember all the time she spent with me looking at art. Taking each piece in, letting my eye wander over the piece and enjoying it so much.

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Detroit Institute of Arts Sunday Afternoon

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Yesterday, Sunday, September 15, 2013, I went to the Detroit Institute of Arts(DIA) to visit some art I hadn’t seen in a while. It was a cool day with drizzly rain. Yard work was not an option. The sky was a mottled grey with occasional bursts of sunlight.

When the Detroit Emergency Financial Manager(EFM) decided on bankruptcy for Detroit, Christies Auction House visited the DIA. I guess it took something like that to make me pay more attention to the treasure I have available to me.

This time I opted for the Dutch Golden Age(17th century) when the Dutch Republic was important in trade, militarily and art. I so enjoy the way they used light in the paintings which was so much like the way the light was playing in the sky outside. We can take photos of the paintings as long as we do not use a flash. The Dutch Golden Age has quite a few galleries. Many of the paintings in the era were secular. It give us a glimpse into some of the ways life was lived in the era.

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The painting above is called Game of Cards (ca. 1660) by Hendrik van der Burch. I noticed this one because then proportions of the children are the same as adults. So, although people tend to think of the era as an almost photographic depiction, it is not. The paint has a Persian rug, a pitcher modeled after Chinese pottery and a map of England. The servant most probably has been brought from Africa. It shows the global nature of Dutch Republic trade.

One of the other things I think of when I think Dutch Golden is landscapes. Possibly, because of the geographic location, the cloud formations can be striking. There were painting of pastures, seas, coastlines and more. Again the use of light to emphasize or illuminate was amazing. I took photos of two landscapes by Jacob Issaksz van Ruisdael. Both are oil paints on oak panels painted mid-17th century.

The first one is just called a”Landscape”( ca. 1646)and is probably what I think of when I think of Dutch landscape. It captures the excitement of the ever changing weather. It may be one of my favorites because I am living in a place with many different kinds of weather. Looking at the painting, you can see that he used so many colors in the sky. I am a cloud watcher and love the sky when it includes reds. According to the museum write up next to the painting, the picture is a snapshot in time and implies the impermanence of life.

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The DIA has some guides to the art posted nest to the picture. They tell the viewer what the various pieces of the pictures mean. If you go to a present day gallery, the viewers sometimes talk about all the symbolism in pieces. I sometimes wonder if the artist was asked.

The next one is titled “The Jewish Cemetery”( ca. 1654). There is a lot of symbolism in this one according to the write up. The clouds imply rain and rebirth. The rainbow hope after a storm. The lighter clouds show the end of the storm as another beacon of hope. The ruins and tombs show impermanence and the inevitability of death. Here light is used to signify hope in the face of mortality. The way the Dutch Golden Age artists use light has always been a joy to my eyes.

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In Rembrandt Harmansz van Rijn’s depiction titled “Christ”(ca.1649), he used a Jewish model which was not usual. He paid attention to historical accuracy when possible. In this painting, there is no obvious external source of light. The light shining from with in the portrait shows compassion. according to the write up.

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There is so much in this section of the DIA that I could not do it justice. It is wonderful to have a museum that always leaves me wanting to come back.

As I was walking out, I heard the Sunday afternoon piano concert in the Kresge Court. I stopped by the DIA Café for lunch before heading home. I got to there 15 minutes before it closed so my selection were limited. The food is usually good so I went with the roast turkey dinner.

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Since it was the end of the day, my plate got loaded. It was fairly good for a meal that had been in a steam table for a couple of hours. Actually, the mixed steamed vegetables were slightly al dente and surprisingly good and I got at least two portions.

After lunch( they were closed by the time I finished, so no doggy bag), I waddled to my car to go home. I had no desire to eat for the rest of the day.

Day Off at the DIA

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I had a bad day at work yesterday and decided to have a great day to compensate.

I started with a very nice breakfast while I listen to the NPR webstream of the Newport Jazz Festival. It was recorded but they played the sets unaltered from the original playing of the set. I got to hear Jean Baptiste, a young pianist from Louisiana, who I had heard and met at the Detroit Jazz Festival a few years ago. It is so exciting to see a young performer with talent grow. One of the numbers he played was “St. James Infirmary” which was one of my first musical loves.

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It was almost like I was there.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of my favorite places in Detroit. It is a place where I can get lost for days. With Detroit in bankruptcy, the creditor banks who were loony enough and bereft of due diligence and lent Detroit money now want to loot the DIA. The collection may disappear into the homes of billionaires. At the same time, our nutty state governor, Rick Snyder, wants the citizens of Detroit to pay for a new stadium. Did I mention that it will not benefit Detroit but will benefit one of our local billionaires? So, I am planning on spending a lot of my time there and take it all in again and again.

Today, I passed one of my landmark sculptures on the way from the parking lot to the door.

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It was a beautiful day for a picture and the museum closes at 5:00 p.m. so there would still a lot of day left. I walked in and up the back stairs to what was my son’s favorite room. It is at the front entrance and is a room full of suit of armor and medieval weaponry. Today there were easels set up for the Sunday program where the museum sets up sketch easels so anyone can try to make some art.

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I walked through the armor gallery and into the Diego Rivera murals on all four walls and up to the ceiling. As a side note, his wife was Frida Kahlo. Diego did the murals in the 1930s and was an alleged communist. Some of his work was destroyed because of his politics. In the 1950s, there were signs in the room to defend the artistic merit of the mural named “Detroit Industry”. There are many music programs in the room and I have had the pleasure of looking at it for so many years.

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This is a picture of the south wall. There is so much symbolism here. The very large stamping machine depicted on the wall is reminiscent of a native Mexican goddess. The two large figures at the top are symbolic representations of Caucasians and Asians. One the opposite wall the figures are Negro and Native American. There is so much to see.

I moved on to my favorite galleries. The impressionist galleries are where I can relax and breathe deeply. I was in the mood for Van Gogh today. There are three hanging in the museum. One is a self portrait painted in 1887. I like the way I can walk up to it and be only inches away so I can look at each brush stroke. Then, step back and see how the dabs form the picture.

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The other Van Gogh I like is called “The Diggers” and was painted in1889. The brush strokes are a lot broader and less defined than the self portrait.

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I took a turn into the next gallery to see my favorite example pointillism painted by Camille Pissarro. I stood before it walking backward and forward. It works so well.

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And then to the next gallery to visit Whistler. I grew up on the iconic ” Whistler’s Mother” or “Study in Black and Grey” so when I saw “Nocturne in Black and Gold: Falling Rocket”, it was not what I expected.

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I went on to the Kresge Court to have some chips and listen to Biddy Budson play some jazz on the piano. Some of the tables have iPads firmly attached so you can get a bit of art history or just surf the Internet. My doctor was there and came up to talk to me approaching from behind. She said she wasn’t sure it was me since she usually sees me with my clothes off. We talked for a few minutes and it was time for the museum to close and for me to go home and listen to the rest of the Newport Jazz Festival.