UP Focus exhibit

MARQUETTE – Greg Green is thrilled to be part of the current featured exhibit at The DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University.

It’s not his first time having work on display there, but this go-round, it’s as part of the UP Focus exhibit, featuring work by him, Cynthia Cote and Jack Olyer, all artists from Calumet in the Keweenaw Peninsula.

“I have been in the (annual) North of the 45th show a few times. But never anything this big,” Green said via email. “DeVos is a beautiful open space. It is nice to have all the work up together. It gives the viewer a chance to see my art as a whole feeling. I paint them one or two at a time and don’t see all the paintings at once.

“It is like hearing a whole orchestra instead of one instrument at a time. Which can be good, but not quite the same.”

Green describes his paintings and collages as “poems to snap us out of our mundane sleep or to flow with our natural rhythm.”

A plethora of influences motivate him, said Green, who earned a bachelor of fine arts from Western Michigan University and a master of fine arts from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

“Inspiration comes from the old abstract expressionist painters and some of the romantic painters of Europe,” he said. “Drama, history, sex and religion, etc. Collage is something I have been doing since I was a student … you can make art with no money and put together a piece only with found objects and house paint if you are broke.

“Still doing it, and still broke,” he said. “Some of the collage are fabric fragments from Goodwill. I look for shapes and color that may work in my style of painting. Mickey Mouse bedsheets keeps showing up.”

Museum curator and director Melissa Matuscak is most pleased with the exhibit.

“The idea for the UP Focus show came about six years ago, with the intent on highlighting the diversity of artists in the area,” she said. “The show features artists living in the U.P., originally from the U.P. or whose work is heavily influenced by the U.P.

“The show happens about once per year and I curate one to three artists who I think would be a good fit for the gallery space,” Matuscak said. “I’m interested in artists who are working in a range of media and ideas – installation and performance as well as traditional media.”

This show is complement to the aforementioned annual North of the 45th exhibit in which Green has participated.

“We have a large juried group exhibition each summer of artists from the region, North of the 45th, so this exhibition balances that with a more ‘focused’ exhibition,” she said. “It’s a rare chance to see several works by a few artists from the area. I feel it’s important to support local artists – and this show has featured a range of artists early in their career to very well known artists such as Nita Engle – and give them an opportunity to show their work on a large scale.”

Other Calumet artists in the exhibition are described by the DeVos thusly:

– Cynthia Cote uses a variety of found objects in her work including magazines, books, photographs and other scavenged bits of paper and string. Her work is based in drawing with pencil, pen and ink with collage elements added to provide loose narratives through thoughtful and oftentimes humorous combinations of text and image. In addition to a busy studio practice, Cote is also the founder and executive director of the Copper Country Arts Center in Hancock.

– Jack Oyler describes his early work as “normal paintings” of oil on canvas. Several years ago he abandoned tradition and began cutting shapes and figures out of plywood with scroll saw. He washes the surface with thinned acrylic paint and wood stain to highlight patterns in the wood grain. The individual pieces are then attached to a surface, leaving what ultimately feels like a still frame from a film constructed out of wood. Each piece is titled (usually written on the frame) to give hints to song lyrics or simply observations from daily life. Oyler received a bachelor of fine arts from Central Michigan University.

For more information on the exhibit, visit www.nmu.edu/devos.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.