Current Press & Events
November 7, 2016
Spellbound by the Potency of the Invisible: A Chernobyl Travelogue, A Lecture by Claude Baillargeon
Spellbound by the Potency of the Invisible: A Chernobyl Travelogue
By Claude Baillargeon, Associate Professor of Art History
Oakland University Art Gallery, Wednesday, November 16, 12 PM.
In the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, a thirty-kilometer exclusion zone surrounding the irretrievably damaged power plant was created to protect the local population against the health hazards of radioactivity. In addition to countless rural communities in northern Ukraine and nearby Belarus that were buried for eternity, the modern town of Pripyat, built in 1970 to accommodate some 50,000 residents, including the plant’s workers and their families, was evacuated and has since become a ghost town.
By 1994, the Canadian photographer David McMillan began to explore the exclusion zone in search of images evoking the essence of the tragedy. Earlier this fall, McMillan made his twentieth journey to the area, still seeking to comprehend the forces of growth and decay that paradoxically coexist within the exclusion zone. With a major book project in the works to bring his unique perspective to a broader audience, McMillan invited Professor Claude Baillargeon from the Department of Art and Art History at Oakland University to write the introductory essay for the publication to be released by the world-renowned German publisher Gerhard Steidl. A touring exhibition to be inaugurated at the Oakland University Art Gallery is also under development.
Given this opportunity to write about McMillan’s long-term commitment to probe the lasting impact of Chernobyl, arrangements were made to enable Professor Baillargeon to travel to the exclusion zone in the company of the artist’s local guide and interpreter. In the course of a two-day journey within the zone, he became spellbound by the potency of the invisible, which singlehandedly brought an abrupt end to human habitation. Traveling with his own camera and a full complement of McMillan’s images readily accessible on his iPad, Professor Baillargeon retraced many of the artist’s steps seeking a deeper understanding of his practice, of the choices he makes regarding what subjects deserve to be photographed or not, and of his fascination with the processes of growth and decay.
Please join Professor Baillargeon at the Oakland University Art Gallery at noon on November 16 for a presentation recounting his own Chernobyl experience.
Dr. Baillargeon wishes to thank the Oakland University Art Gallery, the Department of Art and Art History, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the University Senate Research Committee for their support of this initiative.
November 1, 2016
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Thomas Berding in Conversation with Dick Goody, Thursday, November 10 at noon.
In conjunction with his exhibition, The Berding Memorandum, Thomas Berding discusses his painting practice with curator Dick Goody.
Thomas Berding was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and received a Bachelor of Arts from Xavier University and a Master of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design. Berding’s paintings have been recognized with awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and NEA/Mid America Arts Alliance. His work has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at the University of Maine Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, and The Painting Center in New York. Over his career, he has exhibited his work at many venues, including the David Klein Gallery, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Nelson-Atkins Museum, Rochester Institute of Technology, Indiana University, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Rhode Island School of Design Museum, among many others. Thomas Berding currently lives and works in East Lansing, Michigan, where he is Professor of Studio Art at Michigan State University.
September 6, 2016
WPA & Brockhurst Prints Opens on September 9 @5PM
WPA Prints from the Collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts & the Prints of Gerald Brockhurst from the Collection of Carl F. Barnes, Jr. and Anna M. Barnes.
This exhibition features sixty-five twentieth-century prints from the 1920s to the 1940s, which was a prolific era for printmaking. The WPA (Works Progress Administration), which was part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal in response to the Great Depression, put millions of unemployed people to work in the execution of public works. In this case, artists were commissioned to make prints. These works depict poignant moments when the country pulled together in a time of adversity and strife.
In stark contrast, Gerald Brockhurst was a highly successful English society portrait painter whose finest work was completed during the twenties and thirties. He is now best remembered for his extraordinarily detailed etchings. Highly sought after, wealthy collectors, even during the depression, appreciated his prints for their draftsmanship, extreme accuracy, and evocative spirit. By the 1950s, with the dawning epoch of abstract expressionism, his prints faded from view, but today, once again, his canonic work is well represented in museum collections.
Carlos Rolón and Dick Goody In Conversation @MoCAD
Carlos Rolón and Dick Goody will be “in conversation” this Friday, May 6 from 7-8PM at MoCAD’s Mobile Homestead in conjunction with Carlos Rolón/Dzine Vintage Voyages and Atomic Memories and his Commonwealth 100-page full-color catalog launch.
March 31, 2016
March 28, 2016
The Oakland University Art Gallery has a new tenant. His name is Carlos Rolón/Dzine.
The Chicago-based artist has spoken to OU art students in the past, and now brings “Commonwealth” to the art gallery inside Wilson Hall.
The exhibition features a variety of media, including a wall design installation painted with stencils, sculptures, a reimagined barber shop and more.
“He is different, because he covers a range of areas,” says Dick Goody, curator of the gallery and associate professor of art at the university.
Rolón is a first-generation immigrant of Puerto Rican descent. His interest in art started at a young age.
“My first introduction into the art world was the passing of a poster every day in elementary school of Gustave Caillebotte’s ‘Paris Street: Rainy Day,’” Rolón says in an email exchange.
Rolón, also known as Dzine, attended Columbia College in Chicago with a concentration in painting and drawing. His work showcases how the macho can be fragile and how the elaborate can be basic.
His creations comprise on-site installation art, large-scale paintings and sculptures using various materials. There are three sculptures in the exhibition that are inspired by decorative liquor bottles and vases his parents collected.
“I feel the message is in the medium,” Rolón says. “Thus, even though my studio is multifaceted, creatively all of my work seamlessly and cohesively work together to express a common theme and show a common lineage.”
Although his list of media is long, his list of inspirations is longer.
“Influences for my works stem from my childhood and items that were of the norm growing up to my travels, introductions to different cultures, and the diaspora of my cultural heritage,” Rolón says.
“Also, I’m inspired by the common, everyday objects or items that people pass by every day, but refuse to see the beauty in.”
One of the focal points of the exhibition is a room constructed and designed to resemble a barber shop from the 1970s. There is a TV on three of the walls with synchronized videos playing segments of professional barbers at work — an homage to the culture he grew up in.
Some students were lucky enough to get haircuts from barbers hired by Rolón when the exhibition first opened in January.
“He made them part of the art,” Goody says.
In another room, one can see an actual merchant cart from the streets of Chicago, featuring tourist items representing the culture, such as T-shirts, necklaces, and even yo-yos — another tribute to Rolón’s upbringing.
“He has earned his success,” Goody says when talking about things setting Rolón apart from other artists.
Rolón enjoys speaking to young artists. During one of his visits to OU, Rolón asked the students what they believe it takes to be successful. He has some advice to give.
“Never be afraid to ask,” Rolón says. “Work hard, and take your craft serious, but don’t take yourself too serious.”
“Share when you can and allow the Universe to work as it should.
By Zach Micklea
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February 14, 2016
Carlos Rolon/Dzine, Commonwealth at Oakland University Art Gallery
Commonwealth by Chicago based artist Carlos Rolon/Dzine features several installations by the artist in three relatively large galleries on the remote University campus. Commonwealth is purely autobiographical, including objects and materials inspired by the artists’ Latino-American cultural heritage and upbringing in inner-city Chicago. The exhibition provides common signifiers of urban ecosystems that may be quite nostalgic for many people of color living in urban American cities. For instance, Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman) (2016), features a wooden vendor cart that would most likely be found on a busy urban-American street corner. The mobile cart has a variety of items intended for sale; a t-shirt that reads “Team Cookie,” (an ode to the popular character from the hit television show Empire); a vintage prince vinyl LP; and bootleg Gucci belts and Michael Kors purses. The cart represents a particular subculture, an ecology of commerce that permeates many urban communities of color.
What’s a bit un-common in Commonwealth is the choice of wall color and wallpaper design throughout the galleries. In one of the three galleries the walls are lined with a baroque like pattern featuring gold symmetrical symbols on a turquoise wall. The pairing of this wallpaper with installation work is distracting. We also see this distraction paired with (Hustleman) and in the anchor installation of the show, Barbershop (2016).
Barbershop is a site specific installation inspired by Jack Delano’s Barbershop in Bayamon, 1941. However, rather than reducing the homage to solely photography, the artist recreates an actual barbershop, and reimagines the shop as an art studio or therapist office where barbers are often seen as artists/sculptors, while simultaneously providing a safe space for clients to express themselves. During the opening night of Commonwealth, Rolon/Dzine invited two Chicago-based barbers from Bladez of Glory Barbershop of Chicago to create six hair-cuts on site in the form of a performance piece.
The replica includes a platform situated in the middle of the make-shift barbershop that has black and white balanced tiles and a vintage green leather Koken chair. Surrounding the platform and barber chair, there are three video installations mounted on a rectangle wall paper design with the same sophisticated symmetrical symbols installed in the other gallery on dark wooden wall planks. The video installations feature several clients getting haircuts at Bladez. The clients speak freely about life, providing a range personal testimonies. The testimonies provide a deeper level of authenticity in the exhibition. With the surrounding waiting chairs, images of a fair skinned Jesus, and gaudy mirrors, it feels eerily similar to a typical barbershop experience in an urban American city. Although this barbershop is based in Chicago and the inception behind the project is also influenced by the midwestern city, I am reminded of popular barber shops in Detroit and the similar nuances.
Most notably, the Social Club Grooming Company in Midtown Detroit comes to mind. Social Club founder, Sebastian Jackson, has maximized on the unique social atmosphere barbershops have a tendency to produce, and he has coined a movement around this experience through a series of “Shop Talks.” The Shop Talks have become popular destination events in metro Detroit where Sebastian interviews tastemakers and successful creative entrepreneurs as they receive haircuts in Koken chairs amidst a large audience. The Social Club Shop Talks are essentially panel discussions coupled with the comfortable atmosphere and elements of a barbershop. While the two efforts of Jackson and Rolon/Dzine are different in medium, the mission is ultimately the same; highlighting and capturing the intimate cathartic experience of a grooming space. As I walked out of the gallery at Oakland University, one of the barbers in the video, featured in Rolon/Dzine’s barbershop installation said “sometimes, I’m more of a therapist than a barber,” as he smiled proudly on the screen, continuing to cut his clients’ hair.
Commonwealth is on view at Oakland University Art Gallery until April 3, 2016.
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