is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year with an exhibition lineup comprised of both fresh themes, such as “Where The Wild Things Art,” and perennial favorites, including “Our Rivers, Our Lakes.”
“Celebration” will be the overarching idea governing the 2012 shows, said executive director Amy DeBrunner, as the organization honors decades of commitment to the community’s artistic enrichment. The group began in relative obscurity in the 1930s, when members of Grosse Pointe’s social elite—including Dodges and Fords—met on the shores of Lake St. Clair to paint watercolors. DeBrunner said GPAC has calculated its 75th anniversary using a date in 1937 when the group gathered to discuss forming an association. The first official meeting was on May 10, 1938.
The 2012 exhibitions kick off with “Urban Edge”—a theme last featured in 2009—which will boast “a lot of imagery about our city, including what it looks like when suburban life mashes against urban life,” DeBrunner said. The art center likes to run this show in the winter, she noted, because the grayness of the Michigan winter provides a fitting backdrop to the stark, often depressing images of a decayed Detroit. But there can be tremendous beauty in these images, too, she added, pointing to photos snapped by artist Ted Fines in a dilapidated downtown church showing Mike Kramer with neon towels from his store in the Village, juxtaposed against ruined columns bathed in golden light.
The juror for “Urban Edge,” which will run from Jan. 20-Feb 25, is Detroit artist Donald Calloway. The exhibit will run concurrently with an exhibition of the art center 2011 Best in Show Winners and with a retrospective of works by the late artist Daniel Berdenski.
Next up, from March 9–April 14, is “Where The Wild Things Art,” a play off the title of Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s story. A collaboration with , Friends of the Grosse Pointe Public Library, , and the , the exhibition will feature works about relationships with imaginary friends or animals. Meanwhile, K-12 students can submit works along the same theme for sale, the proceeds of which will be split by the art center and friends. The winner of the kindergarten to 12 grade contest will receive a Kindle. The juror for “Wild Things” is Mary Fortuna, and the rental wall—a wall that members can rent to exhibit their works—will feature the art of Nobuko Yamasaki. To prepare the community for the show, the Ewald branch on Jan. 21 will show the move, "Where The Wild Things Are," and on Feb. 11 actors from GPT will perform a dramatic reading of the book at the Woods branch.
“Faces/Portraits” will run next, from April 27 to June 2. The juror for this show is Bill Murcko, an artist in residence at Detroit’s Scarab Club who does portraits “of amazing skill,” said DeBrunner.
“We are very honored to have him be a part of this,” she said. “He will bring in a very high caliber of artists.”
The run will also feature a performance by the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, and the rental wall will be devoted to the works of Roselyn Rhodes. Meanwhile, a GPAC board member will conduct a workshop for residents of Detroit’s Capuchin shelters, who will create art expressing how they see themselves.
Following “Faces/Portraits,” from June 15-July 21, is a national show, “Realism Vs. Surrealism,” for which GPAC is soliciting work from artists across the country. National shows are important, said DeBrunner, in that they raise Grosse Pointe’s visibility in the art world. GPAC, which staged a national show of encaustic works in 2009 called “Embedded Light,” has been contacting fine art galleries in other states since November to raise interest in the show.
The juror for “Realism Vs. Surrealism” is Michigan landscape artist Jim Nawara, and the rental wall will go to Robert Stewart. Detroit performance artist Satori Circus will perform on opening night.
An annual favorite of GPAC members and patrons alike, “Our Rivers, Our Lakes” will run from Aug. 3–Sept. 1. A celebration of Michigan’s resplendent waters, the show “makes our community feel good, and sales are good because people relate to the art," DeBrunner said. The show will be a collaboration with the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, and the Hunt Club, which will display some of the works in their buildings to raise awareness of GPAC and local artists among their membership.
The show’s jurors are Gregory Lashbrook & Kathy Johnson, and the rental wall will feature works by J. Lady & D. Kaiser.
“74th Member’s Show–75th Birthday!”—commemorating the group’s 75th anniversary and 74th show—will be the last exhibition of 2012, running from Sept. 14 to Oct. 13. The show will feature works by the current members, and the founding members and their families will be honored at the show’s preview. The juror will be the exhibition committee, and the rental space will be used by the art group Reckless Prophets.
The group's anniversary will also be feted on Oct. 20 with an auction of works created by artists who have been paired up with local “celebrities,” a group that will include Grosse Pointe Public Library Director Vickey Bloom and Robert Bury, executive director of the Detroit Historical Society.
From Nov. 2 through Jan. 7, 2013, the art center will turn its space into a “holiday shop,” where those looking to give art as gifts can find a plethora of choices for sale.
DeBrunner believes 2012 is also a celebration of the group’s transition from a long infancy to “toddlerhood,” during which it has expanded its membership, gained additional sponsors and found a permanent space. This last feat was only made possible, she stressed, with the help of the Edward P. Frohlich foundation and its agent James Bellanca, who allowed the art center to stay in its current space rent-free for more than two years.