Craft House was an event-based exhibition space that provided artists with the support to mount their own exhibitions and the platform to connect with collectors. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, on the Avenue for the Arts, Craft House was active between January 2013 and April 2016. A selection of exhibitions are listed below.
Surface Tension features artworks that engage real and perceived material surfaces, point to contextual conditions and fine art traditions, and ask us to look past immediate appearances to make meaning.
"The work in this show was created in response to two years of creative impotence. From 2012 - 2014, I was unable to “connect” with any of the songs or poems I was writing. The pursuit, the process, the product—all felt hollow, and the built-up creative energy was suffocating. At the beginning of 2015, my wife encouraged me to start painting alongside her. By the end of the year, I’d created 75 paintings over six unique series, and they had overtaken my walls, closets, and floors. Once again, I’d reached capacity. These paintings represent the complete first series." -Ryan Hay
"Subjective allegory is at the root system of my creative research. The viewer brings with them a history of personal context, life experiences, belief systems, education, emotional outlook, environment and any other number of different influences. I insert triggers of familiarity from popular culture, religious iconography, mathematical and scientific formula, written language and the cosmos into my work as a point of departure for the viewers personal investigation into the narrative they will create. This builds off historically conventional artistic concepts like landscapes, monuments, portraits, and mythology leading down a pathway of analogy to arrive at questions more than conclusions." -Anthony Mead
Szymanski's work is both an homage to it's apparent minimalist roots and also a break with modernist tradition. Self described as "non-objective" rather than minimalist, Szymanski's subtly shifting, color-field paintings are inspired by images, objects, and experiences that have been, not so much recorded on the canvas as responded to, with poured acrylic and oil paint, rubbed or sanded away, and covered over again until a resolution presents itself. Craft House will feature Szymanski's work January 16 through February 26, 2016 with three events; a Collectors' Preview / Opening Reception on Saturday January 16, from 4-9pm; an Avenue for the Arts First Friday reception on Friday February 5, from 6-9pm; and a Closing Reception on Friday February 26, from 6-9pm. A special edition of mono prints will be released during the First Friday event on February 5.
Spencer's work is big--canvases measure between 4' x 5' to 6' x 8'. It is bold--ketchup red, McDonald's yellow, caution sign orange mix with soft sage greens and pinks. And it challenges conventional taste. Spencer prefers the terms “red herring storytelling” and “impotent narratives." His scenes are both vividly descriptive and frustratingly vague while gently referencing cultural taboos with sexual imagery and ambiguous violence. Spencer makes use of, or rather misuses, signs in a way to obscure communication and increase the distance between the viewer and artist. "Fireside Chats" is a nod to FDR’s "fireside chats”, a series of radio addresses that became a staple of Roosevelt's presidency. Criticism of these evening broadcasts pointed to political objectives that were delivered to the masses under a label that belied their intentions. In this case, the title suggest all sorts of virtues; warmth, family, confidence, strength, narratives and the sharing of ideas in the development of meaningful relationships, but in reality Spencer's work is very different, if not exactly the opposite of these things.
The Co-op Project, supported in part by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, will bring together eight diverse individuals to collaborate on a group-determined artistic experience. The methods and product of their efforts will be entirely the result of their own making. In essence, the Co-op Project is an opportunity to make something new and different in a popular and accessible storefront gallery space, in collaboration with talented creative people.
Statement of Purpose and Hypothesis
An extended cooperative project at Craft House, unlike a one-time event or exhibition, offers it's participants the opportunity to more deeply explore the gallery's location, specifically the Avenue for the Arts corridor on S. Division Avenue. This corridor is home to hundreds of diverse individuals, representing a wide range of experience and circumstance. Home on S. Division Avenue – it's physical form, it's emotional memory, and it's future expectation – is no doubt very different for each of these individuals.
Over the course of the project, the Co-op will examine ideas of home – finding it, losing it, what it means to feel at home, what it consists of, memories of earlier homes and dreams for the future. Each member will begin with self-reflection on home. Secondly, members will exchange their experience of home with one another. Finally, each member will engage at least two neighbors living or working on or near S. Division Avenue to learn about their experiences of home. Members are encouraged to document and/or respond to each step of the project through the media of their choosing. Select works will be exhibited or performed once per month at Craft House.
The Co-op anticipates the project will strengthen our capabilities to listen, learn and respond. Additionally, it will introduce more community members to the possibilities of art making and viewing as means for understanding complex ideas of identity and place.