By MIKE NORTONSometimes you need a little nudge. For instance, if Gene Jenneman hadn't nudged me last week, I might have missed a couple of really great exhibits of East Asian art -- one by an iconoclastic Korean sculptor, the other a provocative photographic record of social change in modern China - at the Dennos Museum Center.
Both exhibits -- Seungmo Park: Meticulously Snipped and Wrapped and How to Return: an exhibition of Contemporary Chinese Photography – will be on display at the Dennos until Sept. 7. Jenneman, who's the executive director at the Dennos, visited Seungmo at his studio outside of Seoul late last year -- and he’s been delighted with the public response to the work.
So I went and took a look. And he was right!
The Dennos show is Seungmo Park’s first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. and features his meticulously cut MAYA imagery, in which the sculptor uses layers of wire mesh to create deep images that combine an ethereal, spiritual depth with nearly photographic realism.
Park’s other sculptural works are drawn from models found around him - a person, a piano or a motorcycle – which he transforms into oddly disturbing shapes wrapped in aluminum wire.
“How to Return” is a showcase exhibition organized with Shanghai’s M97 Gallery, whose owner Steven Harris is a Michigan native who summered in nearby Northport as a young man. Harris chose the work of seven contemporary Chinese photographers who reflect the contrasts and collisions between tradition and change.
Harris believes current art in China reflects a growing disenchantment with “the veil of glittery consumerism and all it promised,” and a search for ways to find what’s left of their roots. Each of the seven artists included in the Dennos exhibition conducts that search differently.
Since its opening in 1991, the Dennos has become northern Michigan’s most significant cultural center. In addition to a collection that includes over 1,100 catalogued works of artworks from the Inuit people of the Canadian Arctic, it has hosted several major traveling exhibits, from works by studio glass artist Dale Chihuly to artifacts of ancient Egypt and gold from Precolumbian Panama.
Located on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College, it is also the home of Milliken Auditorium, whose annual series of jazz, blues and world music is a hugely popular part of the state’s cultural mosaic.The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, Thursday until 8 pm and Sundays from 1-5 pm. Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children. For more information on the Museum and its programs, go to www.dennosmuseum.org or call 231-995-1055.