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Wednesday, June 20,2012

Broad-ening out to Old Town

After serving as a bank and a bar, the former Chrome Cat gets a new lease on life as a pop-up art gallery

by Paul Wozniak

Perhaps, like its namesake, the Chrome Cat has nine lives. The Old Town building was once a bank, then a bar — and for Allison Gass, contemporaryart curator for the Broad Art Museum, it offered the ideal space for a pop-up art gallery.

“In advance of having our own terrific building (this fall), we’re really excited to find a place that had its own strong history that we could completely transform for a little while and change people’s relationship to it,” Gass said.

That transformation is titled “Resituating,” the first solo exhibition by recent Cranbrook Academy of Art graduate Kristin Cammermeyer. Cammermeyer was the “perfect fit,” according to Gass, because “her work is very much about using the detritus from reclaimed buildings and taking bits and pieces of construction material and turning them into art.”

“I want my inventory to have a very broad vocabulary,” said Cammermeyer, who has collected two years’ worth of previously used materials from places like Detroit and Vermont. Cammermeyer endorses recycling through her art, but she has a larger vision in mind.

“I donīt want it to just be about detritus. I want it to be more indicative of the texture of what we want to see around us. If Iīm going to be using discarded materials, I want to turn them into optimistic gestures,” she says. 

Trained as a painter, Cammermeyer incorporates a variety of mediums into creating her art, including photography. “Iīm interested in trying to understand these things through multiple mediums. I think thatīs really interesting. It keeps it really fresh. I just donīt want to commit to one,” she said. “Itīs interesting when you come at the same idea via different mediums, you end up with different answers because of how that media functions.”

Cammermeyer says she began painting small reliefs that grew off the canvas. Eventually, multiple assembled components slowly crept off of the wall. Two-dimensional photographs of the three-dimensional installations become inspiration for new works as does the deconstruction of her pieces as they move from location to location.

“Thereīs a piece in the show thatīs a stop-motion animation of a de-installation of some of the installations,” she said. “I have it looping so it does this expansion (and) compression. Itīs just like breathing. Itīs perpetual.”

“Sheīs quite brilliant at taking paintings and really literally breaking (them) apart,” Gass said. “You will see some more traditional paintings, some installations that look like collaborations (and) large-scale sculptures that come up to pieces on the wall. I really see them as an extension of the painting process in a broader way.”

Cammermeyer wants viewers to discover their own meaning in her works, but she hopes to provoke positive emotions. “I want to avoid making work that feels like itīs frozen and thatīs it. Kind of a period at the end of a sentence.”

Gass insists that the official Broad opening will not mark the end of pop-up exhibitions like this one.

“I think that there’s a way that art lives in museums that’s very important but there’s also something very important about bringing art out into the world in unexpected spaces,” Gass said. “Part of the mission here is to make contemporary art feel resonate with the world, resonate with things you do every day. Installing art in different, unexpected, maybe even familiar places is a way of making sure you are looking a little bit differently at the world around you.”

‘Resituating’

Through July 22

Regular hours are noon-9 p.m. Thursdays; noon-6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays

226 E. Grand River Ave., Lansing

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