Cabaret Duimstra: Construct at 337 Project Space

January is the most absurd month of the year. Even while most household recycling bins are still filled with wadded-up wrapping paper, retail establishments start installing promotional displays of exercise equipment and Valentine’s Day candy. It is fitting then, that 337 Project Space features an exhibition highly reminiscent of Dada art, in the month of January, and exactly 100 years after the establishment of the movement in Zurich.

Typically I would indicate the number of artists included in a group exhibition, but this is somewhat complicated. There are two sets of collaborators included: Tom Duimstra and David Warmenhoven (two members of the Corner Crew collective), as well as Max Manning, who identifies himself as part of a two-person collaborative that includes Jessica Simorte, but it isn’t clear if Simorte was involved in the creation of the paintings Manning submitted.

Significantly, two of the most prominent pieces in the exhibition are a pair of tractor hoods. It’s tempting to refer to these as “readymades”, but they don’t quite fit that descriptor. First of all, even though they’re manufactured items of the same shape and color, they’re not identical, because the elements have created a uniquely beautiful patina upon each. Furthermore, they were salvaged from the property of sculptor Rick Weese who urged Duimstra and Warmenhoven to take the objects when he was relocating his studio. So who or what is to be credited for this industrial diptych, the anonymous designer, Weese, Duimstrahoven, or nature?

Paintings by Diane Englander

Diane Englander would probably appreciate the inclusion of the tractor hoods. She describes her working process as intuitive and inspired by the peculiar beauty of surface that reveals the history of reclaimed materials. Englander’s work, “searches for the place between discord and tranquility”, which shares something in common with her earlier career working as a lawyer and a consultant to nonprofit organizations engaged in alleviating poverty. Her three works resemble paintings by Antoni Tàpies, or those of Jean Hélion, created while he was associated with the group Abstraction-Création.

Paintings by Max Manning

Max Manning’s colorful little paintings are the most intriguing contributions to Construct. No larger than 12″, Manning describes his watercolor and gouache paintings as an,”anarchic disorienting visual dialect…”. The complex layering, subtle illusion of shadows, and mode of presentation, all belie their literal flatness. Manning chooses to cut-out the paintings and display them without borders and unframed, mounted slightly away from the wall surface. As such they appear to be surprisingly substantial objects subtly interjecting themselves into our space.

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Assemblage by Perry Kopchak

Perry Kopchak‘s six contributions are the most varied of the group. He submitted one mixed media painting, two Jean Arp-inspired wood reliefs, an assemblage that resembles an eyeball and/or vulva, and two crushed cardboard cartons bound in wire. The latter look like Marcel Janco‘s masks created for performances at the Cabaret Voltaire.

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Assemblage sculptures by the Corner Crew

 

 

Duimstra’s plan for the gallery is to feature art by emerging and established artists, deliberately combining regional, national and international artists. While it appears that the dance card is going to feature many of Duimstra’s friends, he has posted an open call for artists. This exhibition includes individuals from Michigan, Kansas, New York, Texas, and Washington. The primary objective of 337 is to provide a public venue for Duimstra to showcase contemporary art that would not likely be seen locally. The public is invited to the opening of Construct on Saturday, January 9, from 6-9 PM. Visitors can enjoy live music by Beat Cult, and dance performance by Amy Wilson and Hannah Loss of DITA.

337 Project Space
337 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids
Hours: Thursdays 12-5PM, Fridays 5-9 PM, Saturdays 12-6 PM

 

-Tamara Fox

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