Viewers provide final touch to 'Step Right Up' show
by John Carlos Cantu
Sunday January 11, 2009
Ann Arbor's Gallery Project wants you to line right up for "Step Right Up." This year's fundraiser features 17 installations in what the gallery statement calls a "festive interactive exhibition of installations and backdrops, built so that gallerygoers may enter each space and pose to be photographed."
It's noteworthy that the Gallery Project has gathered a significant segment of our area's more adventurous artists and now has a critical mass of postmodern creativity whose kindred spirit matches the gallery's challenging philosophy. The exhibit is mostly composed of artists who live within 100 miles of the gallery's front door.
Each artist has either crafted or collaborated in making an installation that's also a form of performance art. Fundamentally, this is the dual artistic peg that "Step Right Up" hangs on. Installation art dominates its space, but performance art requires participation - and this exhibit is really neither without each other.
Kalamazoo artist Paul Marquardt's mixed-media "Larger Than Life" is among works on display in Gallery Project's "Step Right Up!" show. Megan Bremer, Toby Fey and Tim Ide's "Virtual Bike Ride Around Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Detroit, and Toledo" is precisely what its title says it is - a video projection tour of these areas with a bicycle mounted in front of the screen for viewer participation.
Anthony and Sandra Fontana's "We are Avatars: A Site-Specific Social Network" allows viewers to have their photos taken as well as have individual layers of imagery added by a Photoshop download.
Paul Marquardt's "Larger Than Life" sets its audience next to a 6-foot-tall $1 bill. Jack O. Summer's "A Masked Riot" uses paper masks to disguise its participants. Pulling the many threads of this display together is Vincent Frappier and Dave Froseth's "Sistine Chapel Dexter," recreating Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" with face holes cut for photo opportunities. Their contribution to "Step Right Up" goes all the way to the top.