The Red Bull House of Art in Detroit opened its inaugural exhibition Thursday evening in the E&B Brewery in the city's Eastern Market district. The cavernous underground space, once a prohibition hideaway, had been transformed from a raw studio environment into a well-lit gallery, featuring the work of eight artists.
In just eight weeks, each artist had created an entire body of work for the exhibition. The final touches were made on some of the pieces only hours before the opening.
“It’s supposed to represent a variety of different artists and mediums,” said Matt Eaton, who curated the show. “I’m curating personalities, people who are passionate about what they do and the process. I think it turned out being a diplomatic broad selection of work without forcing my taste.”
Guests peered at Matt Gordon’s gothic watercolor and acrylic paintings and stood before “The Star Project” by Frank Jonas, in which 69 sets of aerosol stars were hung on the wall, each with a slight geometric variant.
The youngest artist, Ben Saginaw, who is 23, produced monochromatic sumi ink pieces etched with a quill pen. His subjects were the faces of criminals and were juxtaposed against his other work, oil paintings of amorphous monsters. It was Saginaw’s first attempt at working with oil, a material, he said, that was previously beyond his budget.
As part of the project, House of Art, Red Bull provides artists with all materials. “I used oil because I had no limits. It’s the kind of imagery I wouldn’t normally attack, a new medium,” Saginaw said. “I’ve always enjoyed having everything in piece be of quality. I like everything to be hands on and intimate, to have my hand in it."
Another artist, Crystal Vinson, shared Saginaw’s experimental approach to the exhibition. “I had no expectations. I had the space and funds to take a risk, so that’s what I did,” she said. Vinson worked with photography and encaustic paint in dreamy yellow and blue hues. “I found out a lot about encaustic paint, which I now love.”
The Red Bull House of Art gallery will be open 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. May 24-28. Following opening weekend, the gallery will be open every Saturday 10:00 a.m-3:00 p.m. For the next three years, a new group of eight artists will take over the studio cubes and commence work every eight to 10 weeks.
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