Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Muskegon Museum of Art

On Saturday, I had the chance to visit the Muskegon Museum of Art for the first time. I came because I heard about their fiber art exhibit - I was very interested in fiber art at one point in time, and I thought it would be worth a visit. The museum is small and has a very humble feeling about it, but their collection has some pretty great pieces.  From what I understand, the main exhibit from the permanent collection is rotating in and out of display. The information given about each piece included when it was obtained, who the director of the museum was when it was obtained, and a little bit about that director's vision for the museum.  This was interesting, but it seemed like the curators used the exact same piece of information about each director for every piece acquired while the director was there.  It felt a little redundant, and that could have been managed better.

Here are a few pieces that I liked.  I found the above interesting because it was one of the few pieces that wasn't a painting - the collection was dominated by paintings, with a few photographs and sculptures mixed in.  The one below reminded me of the Diego Rivera fresco that's at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Curb Serv

One of the most promising groups at Startup Weekend was Curb Serv.  Their project is (going to be) an app that allows any restaurant to have delivery to cars.  With their app, people can order food from their favorite restaurant, and have that food delivered to their car.  Wouldn't that be nice when it's raining or snowing?  Curb Serv is all about enabling that convenience and they do it with a great, sassy attitude. The app is in beta right now, so you can sign up to become a beta user at their website.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bodies of Art Preview

 On Friday night, Bodies of Art held a preview for their upcoming show,  Works On Paper.  Works On Paper will be at the Goei Center (818 Butterworth) on Friday, March 1.
At the preview, I had the chance to talk to Corinne Hoen, a designer.  Her piece wasn't finished yet, but she described it as birdlike, with paper wings.  She said "We've been working on it since December" and that she's "A little over 50% done." She and her model, Emily Veldman worked together last year for Bodies of Art as well.  The theme is a little bit more specific this year than it has in the past, requiring that clothing be made of paper, which must be mostly white, although certain accent colors are allowed.  Corinne said "I think they really upped their game this year." and I have to agree with her - from what I've heard, this year's Bodies of Art is going to be the biggest yet!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Graphic Design: Now in Production

Graphic Design: Now in Production opened at Kendall and the GRAM on Thursday night.  I went to both portions of the exhibit, and it's pretty fantastic. If you have even a mild interest in Graphic Design, it’s worth a visit. It was curated in collaboration with the Walker Art Center and the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, both of which are places that I dream of visiting*.

In Kendall's Federal Building, the exhibit is focused on film titles, posters, books, and magazines. The first thing I notice in the exhibit was the wall of screen-printed posters, test prints that Aesthetic Apparatus made in the process of making their posters. In the next room, the focus is on interactive pieces, like the Poster Wall for the 21st Century, which gathers data from various internet sources and creates posters based on a formula. If you tweet with #posterwall your tweet will be a part of that. I definitely didn’t understand how that piece worked without reading the information on the wall, but it’s an interesting concept. In the middle hall, there are some posters that go on the minimalist-movie-poster theme, but some of them are TV shows. I don’t really see the need for this piece to be in the exhibit. Maybe minimalist movie posters were new and cool ten years ago, but they’ve become pretty common. It seems like every graphic designer does the minimalist move poster at some point, and now they’re old news. In the next room, the focus is on graphic design for the screen. There are several iPads, showing different apps and how they deliver information. I’m not a graphic designer, but I know that this is a big deal, that there are major differences in how one designs for a screen and how one designs for print. It seems like this is a really worthwhile topic to explore. In the next room, there are opening credit sequences showing from various films. I didn’t see a lot of people spend time in this room, but I enjoyed watching the credits, and many of them were from movies I recognized, like Juno. In the next space, they have fantastic examples of books, things where the designer doesn’t just make an image for the cover, but functions as the author as well. They’re challenging the notion of what a book can and should be, which is important, given that books are becoming less necessary for things that are strictly text. This area blends into the space where the focus is textile design - many fabrics by Maharam are hanging on the walls, and the vague category - designerly objects. There was an Eames shell chair that involved a design on the back and bottom, and there were the ever-adorable Field Notes notebooks. I wish that this portion of the exhibit was explained a little bit better, it was hard to decipher what the curators were going for with it.

At the GRAM, the exhibit was focused on identities, typography, and information design. The space where the GRAM portion of the exhibit is housed is far more open than the space at Kendall, which influences the way visitors travel around the exhibit. In the first portion of the exhibit, there’s an interactive voting piece that uses plastic chips to give visitors a say in logo redesigns. I was astonished at the speed with which people went through this portion of the exhibit, it seemed like most people had an instinctive response, whereas I wanted to look at it and discuss it for a longer time. One of my favourite pieces was by Blu Dot, a metal interpretation of the New York Times logo, done in a style that reminds me of their Real Good Chair. In the next room, there were several video pieces, which people seemed to brush past, instead of taking the time to watch them. I’m not sure what made this happen, but I think it’s worthwhile to note how people travel through a space. The video piece that I liked was an animation done to go along with a talk about education. Along with being an interesting animation, the ideas are intriguing and well worth a listen.

The final thing that made me jump up and down, repeatedly, in public, was the Feltron Annual Reports.  I heard about them on 99% Invisible,** and the idea has been captivating ever since.  Nicholas Felton keeps all sorts of records about his life, and at the end of the year, he makes a fantastic, detailed infographic.  It’s the greatest.  Here, listen to 99% Invisible, it’ll make so much more sense.

Moral of the story:  Go to Graphic Design: Now in Production, and be amazed by wonderful things.  You will not regret it.

*Walker?  You and me.  This summer.  It’s going to happen.  I really hope so.
**I’m going to say it again: If you’re not listening to 99% Invisible, I don’t understand what you’re doing with your life.  Ira Glass says that it’s great, I say that it’s great, so what are you waiting for?  It’s like…a really wonderful blog, but you can listen to it while you’re doing other things with your eyes, like driving.  Go.  Listen.  Love.