For Sunday in the Circle with Eli and Edythe, the Broad Art Museum Offered Hyper-Local Art and Design
Sunday is a fine day to visit the Broad Art Museum, even to avoid the galleries. The Zaha Hadid designed museum might be the ultimate undergraduate hang out, with a Starbucks serving up lattes in a chamber with exceptional and outrageously cool views onto the Michigan State Circle district. I passed a thoughtful hour sipping a cappucino concocted by an advanced fiction major and gazed out of the titanium maw of the structure, musing at the art worthies about to consumed by this international art Borg. I had to muse as I had just witnessed Diane Wakoski, poet and performance artist of Fluxus fame, groom a new generation of young literary types gathered to hear Anna Goodson take the podium and read from new and published work. Wakoski, now seventy-seven, has groomed bright young things at Michigan State since the early Eighties and never had such a perfect environment for her mentoring. The seating in the Broad might not be capacious; however, the gathered poets sitting on the levels of benches reminded me of cloud dwellers, levitating, more than an audience. It was a beautiful illusion illuminated by natural light from a window cut from the side of a metallic beast.
The generous common areas might be blamed for causing two galleries on the first floor to be challenging exhibition spaces. In these smaller galleries, Tidal Shift made the best of the spaces. Tidal Shift collected together works of art submitted by faculty in the art, art history and design departments, an exhibit or perish ritual scheduled to repeat on the triennial plan. It’s difficult for faculty shows at art colleges with a commercial bent to avoid the feel of a trade show, and only one wall risked that fate, blazoned with infographics and book covers. I’m certain the impact of the show was lost on me, thoughtfully chosen by Christina Chang, Curator of Engagement at the Minnesota Museum of American Art. It’s almost an absurdity to say that I appreciated the show more in the brochure and online than when I walked around the works. I am grateful for the two resources nonetheless. The great hallway of the Broad passes like an alimentary canal between the two chambers that housed the exhibit, and possibly Tidal Shift lost power, as the Red Sea lost power when parted by Moses. Next time, consider the Kresge Art Center, which still appears in existence on campus maps. I was grateful to find out that Paul Kotula had found an artistic home at State, remembering his Paul Kotula Projects on Woodward Boulevard in Ferndale. Gratefully, I passed around a divider, and many paintings were given room to breath, especially fine works by Teresa Dunn [Truth Be Told] and Robert A. McCann [Hands Across America], pictured in that order above.
East Lansing has the feel of a Midwestern town still and yet, there’s a touch of Tokyo and Boston as one makes the circuit of Grand River, Abbott, Albert and MAC. The multistoried building that houses the new Hopcat taproom hangs on an older parking garage and looks brash. The past sinks into the background, represented by the still thriving Peanut Barrel Tavern, Curious Book Store and Beggars Banquet. The Broad had to have felt the growing pains as Michigan State opens its arms to a world ready to pay any price to earn a world class degree. Flexing its prestige, the Broad invited design, planning and architectural firms to envision the next phase of the city and campus. For my money, the submission from Min | Day of San Francisco and Omaha gave the best feeling of long walks from the north of East Lansing to the farmlands south of campus. Entitled Gather Make Live Grow Play, it inspired me to leave campus by driving south along Farm Lane, crossing through the old section of campus into the woods and farm lands of the once agricultural school. Min | Day identified this as the Make Cooridor. Rightly so, as Engineering, Education and the Dairy Store can be found on the way.