The group show plays a pivotal part in amplifying the visibility of emerging artists. While a fledgling artist may not have the body of work or name recognition to warrant a solo exhibition, the group show facilitates a move into the gallery that enables the art world to get a glimpse, which in turn may pique interest in seeing more.
The double-edge to that sword is that group shows can sometimes lack cohesion, particularly shows organized around a loose theme. The basis for EXCHANGE was to mutually introduce Detroit and Chicago artists to the opposite community, and in this regard, the double-opening this weekend at Public Pool and CAVE Gallery, both in Hamtramck, was a great success. However, without a strong thematic imperative for subject matter, each of the two exhibition spaces created a markedly different ambiance.
Public Pool, both by virtue of the smaller, more intimate space and the warmly colorful installations created a palpable and lively energy. “Therianthrophy,” a naturally dyed silk tent crowned with a rainbow of banners, presented a tantalizing invitation into its fur-lined depths. “Reflect,” by Kathryn Trumbull Fimreite, echoed the rainbow theme in a grid of graphite-on-watercolor papers that provided the digital projection surface for a moving image of crashing waves. Stacia Yeapanis’s piece, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For #2,” presided over the back wall in a riot of color and shape repetition that generated a rather organic-looking silhouette, which punctuated this curio cabinet of artificial natural wonders.
Though the word on display at CAVE was arguably just as striking on an individual basis, the relatively cold, spare arrangement of the space overall was less engaging. The meta-environment installation created by Sarah Belknap and Joseph Belknap was tucked away in the corner, making it hard to interact with. A film by Melika Bass was blocked off from the rest of the gallery, seeming to create more of a place to hide than an aspect of the show. Fiber art by Homa Shojaie was difficult to distinguish from the spare white wall it hung against.
Though both shows are certainly worth a visit during their residency here in Detroit, a comparison between the two really served to underscore the make-or-break quality of a successful group show—the ability of artists and curators with their own singular visions to work as a team in creating a seamless gallery experience.
See for yourself at:
Public Pool Artspace: 3309 Caniff St., Hamtramck; 313-495-POOL; apublicpool.com
CAVE: 1600 Clay St., Detroit; cavedetroit.com