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New Art Adventures

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We art buffs are often puzzled by public lack of interest in adventurous and thought-provoking art. There we are in a gallery somewhere, a small group sharing a peak experience while millions are at home repeating generic entertainment injections that merely fill time as life slips by. Part of the problem seems to be that contemporary art isn't always instantly accessible, and while the rewards are great it takes effort to get them. The New Art League (NAL, a subgroup of the Friends of the U-M Museum of Art) has taken an active approach to trying to get people to see contemporary art, and to edúcate them so they can better appreciate it. "New Art League Second Saturday Mornings" is the new series of events designed for this goal. The events are conceived to be brief but powerful, scheduled for one short hour, 1 1-12 am the second Saturday of every month except July and August. They will be free and open to the public. The series will spotlight the art in gallery exhibitions throughout the area (commercial and institutional galleries including Slusser, Rackham, WCC and EMU) and occasionally behind the scènes at the U-M Museum of Art, or in an artist's studio. The format for each event is flexible and could include discussions led by an art historian, artist, critic, or NAL member. Awareness of contemporary art will be heightened through interaction with artists and discussion of current issues. The first event focuses on one of the newest art media, the computer. "Cybernetic Music-lmage Environments" will be presented Saturday, September 9, 1112 am n the U-M Museum of Art Apse (see listing in Visual Arts Calendar below). It is a music and graphic presentation led by computer artists John Dunn and Jamy Sheridan. Dunn, a research fellow in the arts at U-M, will present computer music generated from DNA data. Sheridan, a U-M School of Art faculty member, will show some of his "magie carpet" works. These are computer video animations with patterns resembling woven rugs that will be projected on the floor of the Apse by a specially installed video projector. Their combined works will transform the museum apse from a mausoleum of the ages into an environment that we may experience more often in our high-tech future. Both artists will demónstrate and discuss the systems they build and use. Dunn, the creator of numerous software systems for artists such as Lumena.KMM, and Vango, developed the aural-visual software environment which makes these works possible. He and Sheridan have collaborated for many years on numerous projects related to computer-based art and software systems. October's Second Saturdays event will be "Angelis Jackowski: Monumental Tropical Flowers in Watercolor," October 14,11-12am,T'MarraGallery-Artsearch, 111 N. First St., 769-3223. According to their membership brochure, "Friends of the Museum provide crucial support for acquisitions, programs, and special exhibitions while enjoying a personal relationship with the Museum." As a subgroup of the Friends, NAL concentrates the energy of those specifically interested in promoting contemporary art by living artists. The New Art League is a small but diverse group. Some artists and gallery owners are members, as well as University staff and odd characters such as myself . Torn Bartlett of the Matrix Gallery sees the organizaron as a way of harnessing the U-M Museum of Art, the biggest home for art in the city, to the long-term goal of increasing the visibility and marketability of serious contemporary art. It is all too easy for academie institutions to stay lost in their own world, preparing students for teaching and administrative positions while the living world of art is kept safely off University property. The New Art League forms a bond between the University and the local professional art community. Involved members of the art community should consider joining the Friends and taking participating in the New Art League. Meetings are the first Monday of every month. In its former ncarnation as the "UM Museum of Art Connoisseurs Club" the New Art League produced "ArtWalk." ArtWalk was "a walking tour of downtown Ann Arbor art galleries" that began in 1 992 and ended last year. In the end the organizers had to retreat from the difficulty of deciding what an art gallery is. As I understand it, by opening the event to whomever wanted to actively particípate and contribute, some galleries feit left out while ArtWalks included dubious picks such as Mir"s Oriental Rugs (June 1993 ArtWalk). The Second Saturdays concept and NAL itself are more clearly limited to seeking out only the very best in new art. "Art Day" was created by local artist crafter Vicki Schwager to take the ArtWalk concept and expand it. It has already expanded from one day to a whole weekend - the first weekend in December. Art Oay's "open studios, galleries and art events throughout the city" is not just a gallery walk. An official day for studio open houses provides a major opportunity to artists, who can have their studios listed on the tour. Many of the people who actually go on the tour are brought n by artists who make this event their big "Studio Open House" event of the year. At the height of the Christmas shopping season, those who have small, affordable items can do well with direct sales. With artists studios spread all over the area, even outside city limits, Art Day is really a driving tour, and Schwager has experimented with renting city buses for shuttles. As well as open galleries and studios, Art Day adds the excitement of special events such as a Children's Parade. Art Day also aims beyond the local art community. Schwager has worked with the Ann Arbor Visitors and Conventions Bureau to make Art Day a vehicle for promoting Ann Arbor as an art center beyond the once-a year appeal of the Art Fair. By opening Art Day to crafts and other non-fine art media the potential audience and local economie impact is increased. This year the Washtenaw Council for the Arts will be the community arts organization spokesman for Art Day as Schwager helps them furtherdevelop Art Day's potential. Listings in the Art Day map and poster are $1 00. In addition to the listing you get postcards for your own mailing list, street signs and more. Artists can get together to share one studio and pay $20 each for adding their names and specialties to the listing. The Artisans Market at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market will be open for those who don't want to open their studio. A working deadline for application is October 1. Anyone wanting to sign on can try Vicki Schwager at 761-5095 or contact the Washtenaw Council for the Arts, 122 S. Main, Suite 320, 996-2777. ■ ♦ The "New Art League Second Saturday Mornings" Series Begins This Month ♦ Artists: Get Ready lor Art Day in December Wïï3jEïïilH_üjijlMI


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