“LIGHT CREATES AMBIENCE AND A FEEL OF A PLACE, AS WELL AS THE EXPRESSION OF A STRUCTURE,” – LE CORBUSIER
PLAYGROUND DETROIT Presents Ambience: a group exhibition featuring Detroit-based artists Scott Klinker, Steve McShane, George Vidas and Patrick Ethen opening on November 10th-December 8th, 2016. This exhibition brings together artists who each utilize light as their medium that each explores various ways to manipulate this often overlooked part of our daily lives.
Einstein and the invention of electricity brought us a man-made interpretation of nature’s most powerful life force -the sun. The human race has since discovered the power of light and color; how they effect us both physiologically and psychologically by igniting our senses, controlling our emotions, and tracking time. Therefore light and color, especially combined, are arguably the most universal languages of communication.
The developed world most commonly manipulates their own surroundings with the lighting in their homes– dimmers, lamps, candles– we all know how to “set the mood.” We also know how to keep ourselves alert and unconscious of time with cool-toned bulbs. However, our common household and office place lighting pales in comparison to colored bulbs when it comes to creation of surface, structure, and pattern through light thanks to technology in neon and LED bulbs.
Scott Klinker’s creative practice explores a space where Art and Design overlap. As the head of the 3D Design graduate program and Designer-in-Residence at the world-renowned Cranbrook Academy of Art he has mentored over one hundred and fifty design graduates since 2001. In line with Cranbrook’s tradition of integrating Design, Art and Craft, he believes that the best forms are not conceived in the mind, but discovered with the hands. His broad approach to form giving is driven by an interest in remixing the categories of industrial design, architecture and sculpture.
His recent series collectively called ‘Lightforms,’ explores connections between lighting and painting. “Artists of the ‘Light and Space’ movement including Dan Flavin and Robert Irwin moved toward light and space when their questions about visual perception could no longer be contained by the format of painting. These artists moved abruptly from a wall-mounted format toward spatial ‘installation’.” Klinker believes that, “there is more to explore about light ‘within the frame’ of painting.” Using thin LED light strips, he “composes gradient color fields inspired by both the Light and Space Movement and the Op Art Movement, while also raising questions about contemporary definitions of Art and Design.”
Neon signs are visible along numbers of streets enticing customers daily to inform them that businesses are indeed “Open” and often describe goods or services with a playful icon. George Vidas has created countless Detroit area neon signs for hip businesses and storefronts which include Katoi, Wheelhouse Detroit, Pie-Sci Pizza and Detroit Denim Co. He also created sculptural work currently displayed in the windows of SMPLFD boutique which were made of scrap pieces.
Although his commercial work is in high-demand, he is more interested in dispelling his own “anxieties and remember[ing] my goals,” by literally spelling them out in neon signs. Personal stories and concerns are replaced by the calm and focus of his artistic practice. “Neon is a meditative process. I spend a few days alone in the studio, thinking a lot about heat and strain and letter shape […] and how am I, anyway. Then I hang it on the wall, snap a pic for Instagram, bottle the rest up, and get back to work. Prioritizing work over nurturing relationships,” is what led to the piece, “Stress Less.” He explains, “The Sufis say, ‘worry is a cloud which rains destruction.'”
Steve McShane, College for Creative Studies alum and a jack of all metal trades, stayed in Detroit post-graduation to open Fortress Studios with his co-founder, Steve Kuypers in 2010. The pair created their large, multi-use facility to fulfill their own creative needs as well as attract and support fellow metal-smiths, wood workers, ceramicists, and 2-D artists alike to their artist in residency program. Fortress Studios is an art center located in the Northend neighborhood dedicated to providing low cost living and studio facilities for emerging artists and add to the local community through public art programs and community outreach.
A master of forging, McShane creates iron sculptures, often as bases for neon designs that he and collaborator Vidas together bring to light. The marriage of cold, hard form and warm, bright neon bring balance to the experience of the materials on their own. The illuminated effect in a room varies by the color of neon chosen, acting as a moody, abstracted lamp, furthering our consideration of design and experience.
Made in homage to city night-life, weird dance floors and deep rhythms, Patrick Ethen‘s latest work entitled Rave Queen, “is a hypnotic, time-based canvas which hosts a slowly evolving color address made by phasing four colors of internally projected LED light. His work has been previously seen as large installation sculptures at various events including Detroit’s internationally-renowned Movement Electronic Music Festival.
His intuition led from studying architecture to his current artistic practice, which involves complex patterns of luminous bulbs which comprise each of his hand-wired pieces seem to have intuitive motion that engages the viewer immediately. Embodying the rhythms of Detroit and Chicago’s own electronic house music, Ethen pairs sound and visual senses as light stimulates receptors of the eye.
Special thank you to our host Détroit Is The New Black. The exhibition runs through December 8th, 2016. Hours are Monday-Sat
SEE MORE IMAGES FROM THE OPENING RECEPTION
FOLLOW THE ARTISTS!