WKAR interviews Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center’s director and City Streets Exhibition Curator, Catherine Babcock
Read the interview, or listen to it here
LANSING, MI (WKAR) -
Downtown Lansing is being converted into an open air art gallery. Residents can take a journey through downtown to view pieces from 80 Michigan artists. The exhibit, titled City Streets, is being produced by the Lansing Art Gallery.
WKAR’s Emanuele Berry took a tour of the exhibit with gallery Executive Director Catherine Babcock. Babcock says she found inspiration for the project while watching people downtown.
CATHERINE BABCOCK: The idea actually came about when I was leaving an exhibit one evening. We had a reception and I stepped out onto the sidewalk and it was full of people, and a lot of them were college students; a lot of them were people leaving from having had dinner. And they had not attended our reception, and I thought that perhaps if they’re not going to come in to the gallery that maybe I should bring the gallery to them.
EMANUELE BERRY: So where did this art come from? Did artists donate this art, did you commission it? Who are these painters?
BABCOCK: Well, I did a statewide call for Michigan artists and they submitted high resolution disk or jpegs and actually were reproducing the art, so actually art did not have to come, which was an advantage for some of the artists. Those that choose to have their actual work here we have displayed inside of the gallery. So people can sort of compare the difference between the reproductions out on the sidewalk and the originals inside the gallery.
BERRY: Can you explain to me how they’re set up on the sidewalk? What is the layout of this exhibit?
BABCOCK: The exhibit runs only on Michigan Avenue and Washington Square. It starts down at the (Cooley Law School) stadium and it runs down to City Hall, and then it’s the 100 block north and 100 south of Washington Square.
BERRY: So there’s a piece right over here. This is a two-dimensional piece. Could you explain a little bit about how this is set up and how it works with the audio element?
BABCOCK: Well, as you can see the title of the artwork, the artist’s name, and the particular phone number for this piece that’s listed. If you dial her phone number, which you can see on the banner, you will hear an auto attendant ask you if you’d like to hear the artist’s inspiration for this piece then press “one,” if you’d like to hear the artist’s bio press “two.” You can also hear a little bit more about City Streets and you can also leave a comment.
BERRY: So let’s take a listen right now and hear what this sounds like with the audio element of the exhibit.
“I have always been interested in photography, capturing anything and everything and, when younger, making collages out of them. After exploring digital photography, I became less interested in literal translations and tried blending the photographs together with texture and colors as the primary focus, creating an abstract image.”
BERRY: Now that was the artist Lisa Benck talking about her piece “Majestic Tragedy.” What do you think the audio element adds to the viewing experience of this artwork?
BABCOCK: Well, one of the things that I thought about back on that evening when we were leaving the reception was that all of the people on the streets had cell phones. And I thought, perhaps if a piece of artwork were here and a phone number were attached that the student or adults that were out here would call the phone number one of the gallery’s missions is to educate the public about art and this is kind of a fun way of teaching people about art without having it feel like a classroom.
BERRY: Now, setting is what makes this exhibit, I think, different from any other exhibit I’ve ever visited. How does that change the experience of the viewer of the artwork to view it outside in a more public setting?
BABCOCK: Well I think one, it makes it very family friendly; you can bring your strollers and if the kids aren’t as well-behaved as you might expect them to be in a museum, it’s not a problem. If they want to run they can run. They can just act like kids. It’s also accessible 24-7, which most organizations that provide public art can’t do. I think a nine o’clock stroll in the evening after you come from dinner; I think all of those things together really make it a fun, accessible experience.
© Copyright 2011, WKAR