Originally published by ZIPR Magazine, September 2015.
Snaking through and inquiring at nearly every door in one of the buildings at the Russell Industrial Center eventually led the way to a uniquely interactive visit. Surfaces of varied heights served as screens for delayed playback projections of digitized blue and grey hues which filled Jason Ruff’s studio space. At the end of the passage the artist adjusted an overhanging light with aluminum foil. His focal point was a massively webbed sphere of gold, silver, and other metal oxides blended together to yield a pale sea green with white streams.
After getting off the ladder, long wavy locks swept out of Ruff’s face as he described a formulaic process for completing each sculpture. Then he quickly encouraged a view of the main projection space where spidery beams stretched to hold cameras and lights. Slowly the recording of your movement became evident; but the moment you tried to be face to face with your own projection, it would disappear. Only a glimpse could be caught if you turned just quickly enough.
Relishing the videogame aesthetic continued as more people trickled in to guess at which point they could see their faces on the projection walls. Some people went toward the glass fixtures while others went in search of wine and beer. Upon turning to exit, there was hardly a sign of the ladder and artist, which made the experience a bit like trying to catch a little white rabbit.
As a gangrenous yet gorgeous Beetlejuice walked the opposite direction of Gallery 17, Jay Oscar Lee indulged an inclination for nicotine. The scene was a befitting first impression for Bad Habits, an experience at the gallery for which original pieces were crafted by Lee and Brian Lacey.
The collaborative energy transferred swimmingly to the collection for Bad Habits. Congregative moments took place in curious spaces while spectators moved from the independently and jointly painted statements. Subsidize by Lee and I Ran Contra by Lee and Lacey held several people’s attentions in the southeastern corner of the gallery. Sorbet, Denial and Denial pt. II heightened senses near the entrance but sparked the resemblance of a group tendency to plant itself within reach of libations.
Basking in the ambience of Gallery 17.
With or without a beverage, steady traffic bore witness to visual stimulation by the dynamic duo and audio satisfaction from Justin Ngelhart. As the opening carried on, so too did a fashion show, traditional African drum experience as well as loads of makeup, muscle and masquerading in customary Russell fashion.
The August air’s intensity was no match for the catalytic inauguration of Jam Art Jubilee spearheaded by art director John Sippel, marketing guru Ben Kramp and web designer Harry Masters of the Russell Industrial Center and Gallery 17. One attendee claimed with nostalgic gratitude she hadn’t hung out at the enormous grounds for shindigs since the eighties because of a lull in community engagement events celebrating creations of innovators near and far.
Logo of MBME Apparel.
Before entering the vendors’ hangar, a glass blower crafted talons on toes of a curvaceously fierce dragon all behind a scrap metal creature. Aubry and Elena Smyth of Armageddon Beachparty Co. took a different approach of demanding attention with a jutting tent hosting a clever assortment of handmade products inspired by and made with found objects. MBME Apparel (whose acronym means Made By Mexican Entrepreneurs) utilized more of a color coordinated minimalist route, which amplified founder Vic Reyes’ vividly succinct graphics printed with thermal vinyl.
Random Picture Generator (RPG) of New Worlds.
Further into the merchants’ den were sculptures of the same magnitude as the rabbit near the entrance: one was a sarcophagus while the other was a full representation of life’s obstacles as cocoons and their tendency toward being immovable forces of daily life. The latter was part of a collection by an Ann Arbor artist identified as Matt whose sculpting and photographic energies seemed stylishly harnessed. In the same vicinity, illustrations by Killmonkies and Michael and Daniel Chabot of New Worlds struck nerves of excitement with finely tuned details and unique deliveries to their audiences. The RPG (Random Picture Generator) took the reigns of attention from passersby when Michael Chabot explained the machine’s purpose (in which he situated himself) was to give everyone an opportunity to purchase art and be influenced only by the size of his/her contribution.
In the midst of assembling both veteran, early stage and experimental producers, Sippel and Kramp are set for continual support and love from the array of talent across southeast Michigan. The dynamic duo already has its eyes on attracting participation from galleries and an increased range in artists and activities. This leaves room for exponential growth to keep the sizzling momentum going for the annual Jam Arts Jubilee.