Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Muskegon Lake Project Brings the Muskegon Center for the Arts Back to the Front Line of West Michigan Arts. It's the Center's Best Show since the Beginning.

The power of this show comes first from partnership. Kathy Evans of the Muskegon Lake Watershed Council had a problem of surplus. The council participated in the massive shoreline reconstruction of numerous sites on Muskegon Lake. A pile of left over slab wood reclaimed from the bottoms had stacked up at Great Lakes Salvage near the Lake Express Ferry docks. It couldn't stay stacked up forever. Another company had proposed to incinerate the wood left over from the turn of the Twentieth Century. On the eastern shore of Lake Muskegon, the team at Pigeon Hill Brewing Company had a stack of wood reclaimed from Muskegon Lake's bottom, and after drying and cleaning, these boards will be transformed into tables and furnishings for the long awaited tap room. To burn the slab wood was the same as burning Muskegon history. All of the slab wood could find good use, given time and imagination.

Kathy Evans combines the knowledge of environmental design with the insight of the artist. Recently, she served on the committee that led to Third Street South's emergence as a setting for murals and street art. The Build a Better Block process added a new mural installation a week ago, featuring panel portraits by Krystal Gardner. At one point in the story, Ruth Bolles and the leadership of the Muskegon Center for the Arts intervened and proposed a project to show all the different ways a pile of slab wood and collected debris could be put to use. As an extra kicker, the Muskegon Lake Watershed Council had tons of debris left over from a spring cleanup that attracted scores of volunteers who gave hours of work. 

The exhibition for the Lake Muskegon Project has a subtlety that made for a diverting tour through the three galleries of the Muskegon Center for the Arts. The exhibits are displayed in alternation with the members collection of art, and one has to almost go looking for the hint of driftwood to find them all. The center has raised its game with exceptional show cards discussing the works, media items and artist philosophy. Every work of art deserves, at minimum, addition to an art collection in a lakeshore cottage.  A lamp constructed of slab wood, beach glass and additional elements by Ruth Bolles deserves immediate purchase by the staff of Pigeon Hill Brewing Company. Mark this as one of the crusades this author has undertaken. It is written that that lamp will give light for our toasts when the taproom opens. We can only hope that Bolles has plans to construct more. History and our ecological degradation of our watershed are redeemed when art of this level results. That lamp will shine of a better day of sustainability.

With this show, the Muskegon Center for the Arts asserts itself again as a regional resource for multi-generational art in West Michigan. We all delighted in seeing Linda Kufta, working in wood and glass instead of felt and fiber, exhibiting a wood ensemble featuring logger marks from the age of pine. Kufta has assisted in realizing the potential of the Third Street South mixed use retail district. Sadly, she has given everything to her practice of teaching felting and weaving, and her hands and arms require extensive surgery that will place her into a long recovery. 

Bill Randall, long a stalwart of exhibitions in Muskegon and White Lake, participated, a venerable man on the scene. Mr. Randall attended the opening although one could see he was walking with less than comfort. The show attracted the Muskegon arts A-list, and Frederick Reinecke accepted the challenge. His collage of debris photographs held the sweet spot of the center's northern wall, a good choice by the curator. A list of new artists had a chance to exhibit in a regional level show, and this blog has initiated coverage of all of them. Kelly Craydon-Lenger was attracted all the way from the Grand River Watershed, and her reclaimed mirrors bordered with Muskegon Lake debris showed well at a portal between two display ways, the mirrors positioned to set up an infinite regress of reflections. A collector has to consider purchasing and exhibiting these mirrors in a similar arrangement.

Ruth Bolles has a career accelerated into a position of leadership. Her next project may well include reclaimed materials from the upcoming Sappi Paper Mill demolition, slated for October 27th, 2013. Here's another pledge from the Captain Art Walk blog. The calls will be made to people who can arrange access.

Join the Partnership that Brought Back Muskegon Lake

Heritage is Ingredient One at Pigeon Hill Brewing Company

The Muskegon Center for the Art Leverages Partnership and Returns to the Front Lines of West Michigan Art:

The A Team, or to be exact, the F.A.R. team. Will MCA reactivate the team of the Lake Michigan Art Walk?

How to Connect Ruth Bolles with Materials from the Sappi Paper Mill demolition:

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