Relevant: Abstraction from GRAM’s Collection

Two abstract, color screenprints, one with black, red, and silver lines and the other with black lines and accents of blue and green.Mavis Pusey (American, 1928–2019). Left: Paris Mai-Juin 68, 1968. Color screenprint on paper, 33 x 24.5 inches. Museum Purchase, Karl and Patricia Betz, 2019.27. © Artist’s or Artist’s Estate. Right: Impact on Vibration, c. 1968. Color screenprint on paper, 33 x 22.8 inches. Museum Purchase, Sam and Janene Cummings, 2019.26. © Artist’s or Artist’s Estate

Relevant: Abstraction from GRAM’s Collection

September 6, 2019 – January 5, 2020

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Level 3, Gallery 3

Relevant: Abstraction from GRAM’s Collection is an exhibition guest-curated by Juana Williams, Exhibitions Curator at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (UICA). GRAM occasionally invites guest curators to work with GRAM’s collection in order to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to our members and visitors. For Relevant, Williams has assembled eleven abstract paintings and works on paper from GRAM’s permanent collection, most created by artists a half-a-century or more after abstraction’s invention in the early 20th century. During the 1950s through the 1970s, when most of the works in the exhibition were created, artists were evaluating whether abstraction could still be a relevant form of expression. These decades saw exciting innovation in the visual arts–often in negative response to abstract painting, which some saw as elitist and outmoded. The art in Relevant demonstrates how abstraction still proved to be a stimulating arena for artists, and capable of personal expression in a variety of unique approaches.

A native of Detroit, curator Juana Williams earned a Master of Fine Arts at Wayne State University and held positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and the Detroit Institute of Arts before joining the UICA in 2018. Relevant is on view concurrently with the UICA’s exhibition SPECTRA, also curated by Williams. While Relevant focuses exclusively on two-dimensional 20th century abstraction, SPECTRA features works of contemporary abstract and non-representational art that break from traditional mediums and concepts and provides insight into these alternative modes of expression. Conceived as two parts of a whole, Relevant and SPECTRA examine abstract art through historical and contemporary lenses. Together, they show how abstraction has remained relevant for over 100 years by both addressing its own histories and legacies and by continually adapting and diversifying with the times.

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An Art of Changes: Jasper Johns Prints, 1960–2018

Two images of American flags are printed side by side vertically. The artist used wide, loose strokes to fill in the colors of the flag. The flag on the right side is more yellowed than that on the right.Jasper Johns, Flags I, 1973. Screenprint on paper, 27 3/8 x 35 ½ inches, edition 3/65. Collection Walker Art Center, Gift of Judy and Kenneth Dayton, 1988. © Jasper Johns/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

An Art of Changes: Jasper Johns Prints, 1960–2018

October 24, 2020 – January 24, 2021

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Level II
Changing Exhibitions Galleries

When American artist Jasper Johns’ paintings of flags and targets were first exhibited in 1958, they brought him instant acclaim and established him as a critical link between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. Over the following 60 years, Johns (American, b. 1930) has continued to fascinate viewers with his beautiful and complex paintings, drawings, sculpture, and prints. Today, he is considered one of the greatest living American artists.

An Art of Changes  surveys six decades of Johns’ practice in printmaking through a selection of some 90 works in a wide range of techniques. Johns is considered one of the most innovative artists ever to make prints. He created his first print, a lithograph of a target, in 1960. He immediately realized that printmaking was the perfect medium through which to explore his interest in change, and he has said “I like to repeat an image in another medium to observe the play between the two.” Since 1960, he has reworked many of his paintings in print form, using strategies and techniques such as fragmenting, doubling, reversing, and varying scale or color.

The exhibition is organized in four sections that are thematic and follow a largely chronological order. Viewers will see examples of the artist’s familiar flags, targets, and numerals as well as images that incorporate the tools, materials, and techniques of mark-making; more abstract works derived from images of flagstones and hatch marks; and more recent works that teem with autobiographical and personal imagery. Throughout, we follow Johns’ creative process as he reconsiders and revises some of these key motifs over time.

An Art of Changes: Jasper Johns Prints, 1960–2018 is organized by the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Major support is provided by Judy Dayton and the Prospect Creek Foundation. Additional support is provided by Robert and Rebecca Pohlad and Annette and John Whaley.

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In a New Light: American Impressionism 1870-1940 | Works from the Bank of America Collection

 

Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935). Old House, East Hampton, 1917. Oil on linen, 20 x 30 1/8 inches.

 

Gifford Beal (American, 1879–1956). Garden Beach, n.d. Oil on canvas 40 x 50 inches.

 

Lila Cabot Perry (American, 1848–1933). The Poacher, 1907. Oil on linen, 84 ½ x 34 ¼ inches.

 

Charles Allen Winter (American, 1869–1942). Gloucester Landscape with Boats, n.d. Oil on linen, mounted on board, 20 1/8 x 24 1/8 inches. Bank of America Collection.

 

Guy Carlton Wiggins (American, 1883–1962). Trinity Church, Wall Street, c. 1938. Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 1/8 inches. Bank of America Collection.

 

Robert Spencer (American, 1879–1931). Afternoon Bathers, c. 1920. Oil on linen, 30 1/8 x 36 1/8 inches. Bank of America Collection.

 

Louis Hovey Sharp (American, 1874–1946). Pasadena Light, n.d. Oil on linen, 25 x 30 inches. Bank of America Collection.

 

Lawton Silas Parker (American, 1868–1954). First Born, n.d. Oil on linen, 32 1/8 x 35 ½ inches. Bank of America Collection.

 

Philip Little (American, 1857–1942). Untitled (Landscape with Water and Trees), 1925. Oil on canvas, 38 ¼ x 60 inches. Bank of America Collection.

 

E. Martin Hennings (American, 1886–1956). Two Summer Riders, c. 1930s. Oil on Canvas, 30 ¼ x 30 ¼ inches. Bank of America Collection.

 

Oscar E. Berninghaus (American, 1874–1852). Indian Police, n.d. Oil on canvas, 10 x 14 inches. Bank of America Collection

In a New Light: American Impressionism 1870-1940 | Works from the Bank of America Collection

May 21, 2020 – October 4, 2020

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A sweeping survey of American Impressionism, In A New Light: American Impressionism 1870—1940, presents groundbreaking paintings, prints, and drawings from acclaimed artists such as George Inness, Childe Hassam, Thomas Moran, John Sloan, Ernest Lawson, Daniel Garber, and Guy Carleton Wiggins, among others. This comprehensive exhibition of American Impressionism traces the emergence and evolution of a truly American style of art.

The 130 works included in the exhibition reflect the changing mindset of America from the mid-19th to early 20th century. The exhibition concentrates on regional artists’ colonies that were crucial to the American Impressionism movement, from colonies in the Northeast, to the Midwest, and the American West. A tranquil place for artists to share ideas and resources, these collaborative enclaves were often established in rural areas of great natural beauty, yet not far from growing urban centers. The show explores the ways in which local artists interpreted America’s rural, maritime, and urban spaces and portray daily life using the Impressionist devices of capturing the moment with brisk brushstrokes, a vibrant palette, and atmospheric effects. Organized by Bank of America’s Art in Our Communities Program, In A New Light is the first major exhibition of American Impressionism at GRAM in over a decade.

Support for this exhibition is generously provided by:

Alexander Calder: Pour La Grande Vitesse and other Works on Paper

An artwork by Alexander Calder which depicts a black sun shape with a smiling face, with an orange and yellow circular sun behind it and wavy black lines underneath.Alexander Calder, Pour La Grande Vitesse, 1968. Gouache and graphite on paper. Grand Rapids Art Museum, Gift of the Artist, 1970.1.1 © 2019 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Alexander Calder: Pour La Grande Vitesse and other Works on Paper

June 6, 2019 – August 25, 2019

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In 1969, Alexander Calder’s La Grande Vitesse was erected in Grand Rapids. It was an important moment for public sculpture in the U.S., as La Grande Vitesse was the first public art work funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Over time, Calder’s towering red sculpture has become a beloved icon of our city.

Beginning in 1968, the Grand Rapids Art Museum began acquiring works by Calder for the museum’s permanent art collection, including the sculpture Red: Rudder in the Air, currently on view in our third-floor galleries, as well as numerous prints and unique works on paper–eleven of which are displayed here.

In his works on paper, Calder was drawn to the same concepts that occupied him in his three-dimensional work. In these compositions we see Calder exploring dynamic movement, form, and the interaction of bold colors. Simple geometric and organic shapes teeter between abstraction and recognizable imagery like planets, pyramids, snakes, and plants. In all of Calder’s work, there is a sense of lively exploration and discovery.

Billy Mayer: The Shape of Things

A wall with four shelves Hugh horizontally hold dozens of clay skull sculptures. Each skull has a different trinket on top. They include a candle, a guitar, a carrot, a chair, and countless other miscellaneous items.Billy Mayer (American, 1953–2017). Here (detail), 1993–2015. 440 individual pieces, glazed earthenware and paint. Courtesy of Michel L. Conroy.

Billy Mayer: The Shape of Things

August 24, 2019 – February 2, 2020

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One of Michigan’s most distinctive and unique sculptors, the late Billy Mayer (1953-2017) created work in numerous media and materials that addressed the mundane elements of daily life as well as bigger, broader ideas about human existence. Billy Mayer: The Shape of Things brings together both large and small-scale sculpture that demonstrate Mayer’s creative imagination and his impressive range of interests and sources, from Surrealism and Pop Art to souvenir kitsch. Mayer’s meticulously crafted sculptures juxtapose familiar elements in unexpected arrangements that seem conjured from a parallel reality or dream state.

Anchoring the exhibition is Here, Mayer’s tour-de-force installation of over four hundred small skulls, each topped with a different everyday image or object – all handcrafted in clay. In its totality, Here imbues its range of banal objects and images with personal meaning, creating a self-portrait, in a sense, of the artist’s thoughts and memories.

Support for this exhibition is generously provided by:
Beusse & Porter Family Foundation
The Jury Foundation
Steelcase Inc.

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Selections from the 2019 Festival of the Arts Regional Arts Competition

Two guests in the galleries stand together and look at the art on the walls, which is not pictured. 

Selections from the 2019 Festival of the Arts Regional Arts Competition

June 26, 2019 – July 28, 2019

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GRAM is pleased to collaborate with Festival of the Arts to exhibit a selection of works by regional artists, selected from the Festival 2019 Regional Arts Exhibition. Chief Curator, Ron Platt, and Assistant Curator, Jennifer Wcisel, selected pieces from the nearly 400 works on view in the exhibition for this special presentation. Also included is the juried Best in Show selection.

Featured artists include: Ted Bergin, Georgia Donovan, Rose Ellis, Lee Ann Frame, Tatsuki Hakoyama, Carol Laurn, Kaye Longberg, Catherine McClung, Jovonnah Nicholson, Benjamin Nguyen, Alisa Phillips, Kendra Postma, Ruth VanderMeulen, and Leslie Victor.

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Nicholas Krushenick: Iron Butterfly

A wide gallery view with 5 works spanning 3 walls in the gallery. The works comprise of graphic, abstract pop-art with bold lines and bright colors.Nicholas Krushenick (American, 1929–1999). Iron Butterfly, 1968. Screenprint on Schoellers parole cardboard paper, 35.5 x 27.5 inches each. Grand Rapids Art Museum, Gift of Wouter F. Germans New York, NY. Courtesy the Estate of Nicholas Krushenick and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.

Nicholas Krushenick: Iron Butterfly

March 23, 2019 – June 2, 2019

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First Floor, Secchia Gallery

A “one hit wonder,” Iron Butterfly was a 1960’s psychedelic rock band remembered for their song “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” a churning stew of pounding drums, reedy organ, and primitively chanted lyrics. Artist Nicholas Krushenick appropriated the band’s contradictory name for his 1968 print series, which is on view along with one other work of his in GRAM’s collection. Like a lead zeppelin, an iron butterfly would never get off the ground. Perhaps Krushenick was poking fun at his own less-than-subtle “Pop Abstract” style, which he developed in the early 1960s. In a 1968 interview, Krushenick stated, “I think that every painter, whether he’s conscious of it or not, acquires a mass vocabulary of forms and shapes and ideas that he keeps juggling for the rest of his life from, say, 30 until he dies.” More than fifty years later, the artist’s interactions of high-keyed color, formal rigor, and sheer graphic intensity still looks fresh and modern.

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Melanie Daniel: Only Four Degrees

 

Melanie Daniel (Canadian, b. 1972). Villagers, 2019. Oil on canvas, 49 x 40 inches. Courtesy of Asya Geisberg Gallery.

 

Installation view of Melanie Daniel: Only Four Degrees

 

Melanie Daniel (Canadian, b. 1972). We Have the Best Sunsets, 2019. Acrylic, ink, and colored pencil on cotton paper, 40 x 45 inches. Courtesy of Asya Geisberg Gallery.

 

Installation view of Melanie Daniel: Only Four Degrees

 

Installation view of Melanie Daniel: Only Four Degrees

 

Installation view of Melanie Daniel: Only Four Degrees

 

Installation view of Melanie Daniel: Only Four Degrees

 

Melanie Daniel (Canadian, b. 1972). Mission, 2019. Oil on canvas, diptych, each 54 x 42 inches. Courtesy of Asya Geisberg Gallery.

 

Installation view of Melanie Daniel: Only Four Degrees

 

Installation view of Melanie Daniel: Only Four Degrees

 

Melanie Daniel (Canadian, b. 1972). Honeygrind, 2019. Oil on canvas, 85 x 70 inches. Courtesy of Asya Geisberg Gallery.

 

Melanie Daniel (Canadian, b. 1972). Civic Planning, 2019. Oil on canvas, 42 x 54 inches. Courtesy of Asya Geisberg Gallery.

 

Installation view of Melanie Daniel: Only Four Degrees

Melanie Daniel: Only Four Degrees

May 18, 2019 – September 8, 2019

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Level III, Hunting Gallery

Melanie Daniel’s fear for humankind’s relationship with the natural world has fueled the paintings and works on view in Melanie Daniel: Only Four Degrees, her Michigan Artist Series exhibition at GRAM. In these recent large-scale paintings, works on paper, and ceramics Daniel imagines a world at the brink of collapse by our chronic, longstanding disregard for its well-being. The people who populate her rich narrative pictures are painfully aware of their difficult circumstances and have adopted various methods to cope with their new surroundings. Daniel’s garish, unnatural palette, dense areas of vibrating pattern, and skewed perspectives underscore the uneasy relationship between the subjects and their environment.

The figures in her paintings and drawings still attempt the mundane tasks of daily life, but in a world inhospitable to normal routine they appear unmoored. In Villagers, a group gathered beneath an outdoor tarp prepare food. Instead of a bucolic picnic, the scene seems more a desperate attempt to maintain a semblance of normalcy. In the painting Only Four Degrees, a lone figure within a post-tsunami landscape futilely attempts to create a power source, or perhaps to make contact with others. In these works, the specific aims of Daniel’s protagonist are ambiguous, and often humorously hopeless. Daniel’s big, brash, and strangely beautiful works are both cautionary, yet hopeful, in that their protagonists demonstrate the will to adapt and survive. The works show, too, the resilience of nature, in which plants and flowers threaten to overrun the canvases. It is possible that our planet will become inhospitable to human life, but nature will find a way to survive.

Melanie Daniel was born in Victoria, British Columbia, and is based in Tel Aviv, Israel. She exhibits her art internationally, recently in exhibitions in the U.S., Canada, Israel, and Sweden. Among her recent awards are a Pollock-Krasner Grant and a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, and in 2009 Daniel was awarded a solo exhibition for the Tel Aviv Museum of Art’s Rappaport Prize for a Young Israeli Artist. She is currently the Padnos Distinguished Visiting Artist/Professor at Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she teaches a course in advanced painting. She is also collaborating with C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy and Urban Roots community garden on projects related to climate change and the environment.

A New State of Matter: Contemporary Glass

 

Dean Allison (American, b. 1976). What would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared?, 2014. Cast glass, 15 x 20 x 16 inches. Courtesy of the Artist and Habatat Galleries.

 

Erica Rosenfeld (American, b. England 1975). Reverie Forest III: Adelaide & Clementine, 2016. Glass and mixed media, 10 1/2 x 40 x 6 inches. Courtesy of the Artist and Heller Gallery, New York.

 

Tali Grinshpan (Israeli/American, b. Israel 1972). Hope from the series Of Innocence and Experience, 2016. Pâte de verre, 10 x 10 x 5 inches. Courtesy of the Artist.

 

Charlotte Potter (American, b. 1981), Pending (detail), 2014. Cameo engraved glass and metal, 156 x 360 x 96 inches. Courtesy of the Artist and Heller Gallery, New York.

 

Rachel Moore (American, b. 1979), Sugarplum, 2005. Cast lead crystal glass and cherries, 3 1/2 x 6 x 6 inches. Courtesy of the Artist and Stewart Gallery.

 

Steffen Dam (Danish, b. 1961), Specimen Cabinet, 2017. Glass and mixed media, 39 1/4 x 25 x 10 inches. Courtesy of the Artist and Heller Gallery, New York.

A New State of Matter: Contemporary Glass

January 25, 2020 – April 26, 2020

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Level II, Changing Exhibition Galleries

Glass has been called a new state of matter because it is not purely a liquid, solid, or gas. Glass can transition from a liquid to a solid over a wide temperature range, causing it to be nicknamed “chameleon matter”. This quality makes it an ideal medium for a wide array of processes including blowing, kiln-forming, casting, and flame-working.

Glass can be translucent, transparent, or opaque; it can refract images or reflect them back to the viewer; it is strong, yet delicate. These qualities make glass perfectly suited for artists to explore fragility, resiliency, transparency, and transformation. This exhibition features work by contemporary artists who are using glass in innovative ways, while presenting its metaphorical possibilities. Their artworks also connect to broader cultural, environmental, political, and spiritual themes.

Each of the nineteen artists included in the exhibition examines the material and symbolic potential of glass in unique and revealing ways. For example, artists Charlotte Potter and April Surgent use the ancient process of cameo glass engraving to explore relationships in the age of social media and climate change, respectively. Jeffrey Stenbom utilizes cast glass to unveil the struggles facing the nation’s veterans. David Chatt, in a repetitive, labor-intensive process, covers found objects with thousands of miniscule glass beads to discuss family and nostalgia. Amber Cowan repurposes American pressed glass to create her intricate installations that recall a by-gone era.

The exhibition also includes work by Grand Rapids artist Norwood Viviano. Viviano fuses fine arts practice with data and research findings in geography, economics, and the social sciences to create environments in which sensuous beauty and topical information coalesce. Viviano has said that, “The fragility of glass serves as a metaphor for balance between time, efficiency, and the inability of manufacturing to change and meet future needs.”

Featured artists include: Dean Allison, David Chatt, Amber Cowan, Steffen Dam, Morgan Gilbreath, Tali Grinshpan, Etsuko Ichikawa, Patrick Martin, Rachel Moore, Whitney Nye, Charlotte Potter, Michael Rogers, Erica Rosenfeld, Mary Shaffer, Jeffrey Stenbom, April Surgent, Judy Tuwaletstiwa, Norwood Viviano, and Jeff Zimmer.

This exhibition is organized by the Boise Art Museum

Sponsored by the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation with additional grant support from the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass

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Self, Symbol, Surrogate: Artist Portraits from GRAM’s Collection

the corner of a gallery painted dark green with several gold-framed portrait paintings hung on the walls. 

Self, Symbol, Surrogate: Artist Portraits from GRAM’s Collection

March 22, 2019 – August 11, 2019

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Level I

Self, Symbol, Surrogate: Artist Portraits from GRAM’s Collection explores the many way artists engage in the tradition of portraiture, one of art’s oldest genres. The exhibition brings together iconic works and lesser known examples in the Museum’s collection to illustrate various approaches to portraiture from the 17th Century to today. Within the exhibition, works in a wide array of media are organized thematically. The thematic groupings address some of the numerous ways in which portraits function; some portraits record an individual’s status and wealth, while others document a more objective or critical view of history. Many artists use their intimate circle of family and friends as subjects, while others attempt to capture the genius or celebrity of extraordinary individuals. Some artists explore issues of identity through their own self-portraits and challenge the notion that a portrait should feature a face or figure at all.

Portraits can connect us to people whose lives are much different from our own and can reveal a range of human experiences. Portraits brought together around the theme of documentation demonstrate how portraiture can bear witness to people and life circumstances. More than this, these images can foster our empathy and awareness for those with whom we have little contact or even knowledge. Nicholas Nixon’s portraits of Joey Brandon, from the series People with AIDS, show the subject in close-up looking directly into the camera in order to facilitate a connection between the viewer and the subject. Nixon began this series in 1987, when HIV/AIDS was severely stigmatized, as a way for viewers to engage with someone they may not be able to otherwise.

Portraits connect us with their depicted subjects as well as with the artists who created them. In self-portraiture, artist and subject are one in the same, giving the viewer insight into the artists’ own self-image. An etched self-portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait Drawing at a Window (1648), is included in a section dedicated to artist self-portraits. Rembrandt was an extremely prolific self-portraitist for his time, creating nearly 100 images of himself. His impulse for self-reflection and revelation continues today in the work of artists who make self-portraits in which they explore their feelings and psychological states. One example is Mee Kyung Shim, who depicts herself rising from the water for a breath of air–a metaphor for her experience acclimatizing to American culture after relocating from Korea.

Because of the proliferation of smartphones and the popularity of social media, we see images of people everywhere. Today, nearly two billion images are uploaded to Facebook, Instagram, and other digital platforms every day–many millions of these are portraits in the form of snapshots and selfies. As the way we experience the world changes with technology, artists continue to push the boundaries of the portrait genre. The works in this exhibition prompt us to consider the ways the artists have depicted their subjects, the choices they made and the creativity behind them.