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Review Archive

Play Along With This Gallery Project Show

By John Carlos Cantu

Ann Arbor News Special Writer, Saturday, July 2, 2005


Gallery Project's supremely playful "Heigh Ho, Hi-Lo'' illustrates by cheerful example that art can be lighthearted and even sheer fun.


Launching in many different directions, this latest Gallery Project effort, provocatively subtitled "Art You Can Play With,'' is not only a witty rejoinder to the general impression that art is often ponderously beyond wit; It also serves notice that Ann Arbor's newest art collaborative is going to be consistently unpredictable.


The exhibit consists of work by Ann Arborites Rocco de Pietro, Meghan Hartwig, Frank Pahl, Sophie Rasul and Elona Van Gent. Ypsilanti contributors are Bobby and Kira Campbell and Robin DeSloover; while Adrian's Paul McMullan and Kalamazoo's Beverly Munson round out the regional talent


The display's gallery statement asks the question at hand: "What happens when you bring 'serious' artists together for a show about play?'' Answer: Everyone involved is freed "from the pressure of 'getting it' and revels instead in 'doing it.' ''


In a dazzling array of consistently intelligent and delightful art, "doing it'' is "getting it.'' As the gallery's statement says, browsers "can play with dolls, rearrange blocks, make toys flip, sit down to a tea party, make beautiful music, and excite the eyes.''


And have no doubt: This exhibit will excite your eyes - as well as excite your imagination.


Among the highlights, Pahl's "The Happy Accident Double Quartet'' gallery installation comes tunefully alive with a timely toe-tapping assist from its visitors. With the push of a handle, the crowned creature of Van Gent's prototype "All Fall Down'' dramatically wags its head and tail. And Hartwig's earthenware mixed-media "Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice'' features a party-hearty bunny with a trove of removable treasures sticking out of its tummy.


Mentioning these three works of art is not to take anything away from the other lively contributions on display - many of which are specifically designated in the gallery as play-along works of art. What each artwork demonstrates is a willingness on these artists' part to craft creativity whose humor is distinctly his or her own.


This is harder than it seems. So play along with this exceedingly good-natured and mischievous display of art while it's available. Like the artists themselves, just whistle while you work.


"Heigh Ho, Hi-Lo: Art You Can Play With'' will continue through July 17 at Gallery Project, 215 S. Fourth Ave. Gallery hours are noon-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday. For information, call (734) 997-7012.

© 2005 Ann Arbor News. Used with permission