Urban Canvases of Detroit

Silent Flight
Con Artist Crew Gallery
Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m.
openconceptgallery.org, conartistcrew.com

Street art has been making headlines near and afar lately, from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles' groundbreaking exhibit to a few Gerald R. Ford stencils causing a rouse for Grand Rapids city officials. This month, three galleries team up to showcase work from one of street art's most fertile grounds: Detroit.

Open Concept Gallery and the Con Art Crew is partnering with Detroit's 323Gallery for Silent Flight, a one-night-only exhibition that features the work of two Detroit natives who have made the city their canvas.

"Street art is not a trend but a major art movement," said Katie Moore of Open Concept Gallery, who is curating the exhibition. "What you saw happening in New York during the late '80s and early '90s is happening again but in a new way in Detroit."

A team from Open Concept Gallery visited Detroit in summer 2012 and saw works created for the Detroit Beautification Project, which assembled street artists from all over the globe with a goal of bringing vibrancy back to the city. The project was presented by the spray paint company, Montana Cans, street art crew and apparel company The Seventh Letter and grassroots organizations Contra Projects and 1xRun, which is an online art gallery specializing in one-run-only prints.

Moore said the team went to visit Jesse Cory of 323East Gallery, which founded 1xRun, to discuss trends happening in Detroit and ways Open Concept Gallery could help showcase the work in Grand Rapids. Cory then introduced her to MALT and TEAD, the two artists whose work is featured in Silent Flight.

"We are inspired by the work ethic and creativity that goes into what they produce," Moore said. "A lot of street art can lose its meaning when put in a gallery, but with MALT and TEAD, the beauty and mastery of their work is easily seen in both physical contexts."

MALT and TEAD's individual works are shown, though the artists have worked together on projects in the past. MALT's owl figures have been paired with TEAD's industrial landscapes for work that is striking and alive. Both artists are present to discuss their work at the exhibition and will create a site-specific mural that will be donated to Clemente Skate Park.

Co-founders of Con Artist Crew Magdalene Law and Reuben Garcia previously held an exhibition to raise money for the park, and given street art's close ties with skateboarding culture, thought it would make a great home to the new piece.
"Instead of the piece being painted over again, we said, 'Let's donate it to a skatepark whose skaters are trying to revamp their surroundings,'" Law said.

MALT got into graffiti through friends that he skateboarded with in the early '90s, and Moore said he was delighted with the prospect of being able to create a live work that would live on in the skate park.

"You could work on a mural outside for a day, week, month, or whatever it takes and come back the next day to it completely ruined," MALT said.

"These artists' pieces couldn't be a better match," said Law of the mural's future home. "It also brings a positive message to the world that art belongs anywhere."


Other Art Events

Go Figure – Opening Reception
LaFontsee Galleries, Grand Rapids
Jan. 18, 5 p.m.
lafontsee.us, (616) 451-1000

LaFontsee Galleries presents works from local artists that explore the use, absence or suggestion of the figure. Len Cowgill, Rebecca Green, Saul Gray-Hildebrand, Mary Sebastian, Rachael Van Dyke and Paul Varga are just some of the artists who will be shown through Feb. 16.

Creativity Uncorked: Step Into a Dream
Grand Rapids Art Museum
Jan. 10, 7 p.m.
$30 non-members, $25 members; space is limited
artmuseumgr.org, (616) 831-2919

Create your own night at the museum. The GRAM's newest program gives you the chance to hang out after hours, enjoy a glass of wine and see where the evening takes you. Attendees can expect an immersion in art that blurs the line between dreams and reality while they create a work of art to take home and collaborate on a group project that will be exhibited at the GRAM. 21+ only, cash bar opens at 6:15 p.m.

DIY Survival
Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids
Jan. 10 7 p.m.
$15 members, $20 non-members, pre-registration required
uica.org, (616) 454.7000

End of the world didn't go as planned last month, le sigh. Fear not doomsdayers, there's always the imminent threat of a zombie apocalypse, and the UICA is helping to ensure that you're prepared with this latest Quirkshop. Craft your own survival kit and tools while sipping on your favorite brew. Event is BYOB, and you must be of legal drinking age to consume.