Once the fourth largest country in the United States, Detroit, Mich., boasted a population of close to two million in the 1950s. According to the last census report, the city saw a decline in population of 25 percent. Entire city blocks and large chunks of neighborhoods have been left abandoned in the exodus — blamed on poor schooling, high crime and other infrastructure deficiencies in addition to loss of industry jobs. While tragic, the shift is a nudge for change — empowering city residents to think boldly and creatively toward redesign initiatives that could potentially be applied to urban revitalization efforts around the country. In the meantime, photographers like Michigan native Ryan Spencer Reed aren’t shy about reaping the visual rewards of abandonment.
The results of Reed’s anthropological exploration began three years ago and will be on display in an exhibit opening Monday, March 26 at the Sordoni Art Gallery at Wilkes University. The artist, whose Sudan: The Cost of Silence was seen at the Sordoni in 2007, will give a gallery talk as part of a special cocktail fundraiser ($35) for the gallery on March 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. Detroit Forsaken: Photographs by Ryan Spencer Reed will remain on display through May 20.
Among the landmarks captured by Reed in the series a grand ballroom inside the Lee Plaza Hotel, The Vanity Ballroom, and closed schools and churches as well as factories like The Packard Plant. Closed in 1956, the plant’s 35-acre industrial wasteland sits between one northeast side neighborhood and downtown. The photographer describes the scene at http://detroit.ryanspencerreed.com.
“Like the structures depicted, the photographs are intended as artifacts of beauty, time, and consequence. For that reason, I chose to capture this body of work using film and cameras that, like their subject, were built without any planned obsolescence,” he offers.
“Detroit was a monolith of human achievement. Few cities have had more influence on the growth of a civilization. Few cities have so rapidly fallen from grace. As an economic bellwether, she now lives a cautionary tale for all those great cities that danced to Motown’s lead, and are most likely doomed to follow in her footsteps. What remains is a drained and evaporated city landscape — one that is haunting, seductive and alive with ghosts.”
The Sordoni Art Gallery is located in the Stark Learning Center at 150 South River Street in Wilkes-Barre. Hours are noon to 4:30 p.m. daily. Call 408-4325 for more information.
Collectors’ Show and Tell
There’s an addictive quality about collections that assures you don’t have to be a hoarder to watch it swell beyond control. Depending on the object of your affection, additions to the menagerie are an easy gift item for friends and family who think of you when ever they see an owl or an elephant, a cactus or an orchid. Collections of fine artwork are fueled more exclusively by the collector’s own personal shopping, but inevitably the day comes when no more wall or shelf space is to be found. Do you put the older less popular pieces in storage?
A new exhibit titled Better Enjoyed Than Hidden opening at The Butternut Gallery in Montrose next weekend features a diverse assortment of prized works by regional art collectors. Among the paintings, sculptures, prints, pottery and jewelry items are pieces by artists including Sister Mary Corita Kent, Rodrica Tilley, Robert Bergstrasser and Jordan Taylor. A reception will be held on Saturday, March 14 from 3 to 5 p.m. Better Enjoyed Than Hidden: Collectors’ Works will remain on display through May 12.
The Butternut Gallery has operated in conjunction with Second Story Books at 204 Church Street in historic downtown Montrose since 2006. In addition to monthly exhibits of fine art work by regional, national, and even international artists, the shop offers fine crafts and quality used books for sale. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Call 278-4011 for more information or email butternutgallerySSB@gmail.
Trio Manifesto opening at Marquis Art & Frame
Sue Obaza’s intriguing jewelry works created with fabric collage and stained glass techniques are on display in a new exhibit titled Trio Manifesto opening at Marquis Art & Frame in Wilkes-Barre on Friday with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Photographs shot throughout northeastern Pennsylvania by Mark Maglioli and paintings by Bernadette Harrison will also be showcased. The works will remain on display through April 28. Marquis Art and Frame is located at 122 South Main Street in downtown Wilkes-Barre. The gallery is on the second floor. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Call 823-0518 for more information or email email@example.com.