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Curator Spotlight: Spiral Gallery Challenges Heteronormativity

Posted by dwellingplacegr on June 3, 2015

Spiral Gallery, located at 44 South Division, on the Avenue for the Arts, has been receiving a tremendous turnout lately for the numerous diverse shows it has been hosting. Steven Vinson, the Founder and Curator of Spiral Gallery, has resided and run the gallery for 2 years and has decided to raise the bar and spark various conversations through the shows he brings to Spiral Gallery. With the return of Pride Month in June and the Supreme Court Ruling for Legalization of Gay Marriage to come to a conclusion at the end of the month, Vinson organized a show with a few of Grand Rapids LGBTQ  artists to help recognize this colossal decision.

When seeking out artists for “Queering”, Vinson was drawn to three notable artists in the Grand Rapids artist community. Michele BosakTommy Allen and Michael Pfleghaar were recruited for their dedication and continued involvement with the arts. When asked about the theme of the show, Michele Bosak replied,  “I worked with Steven on naming the show and helped shaped the direction. Queering, as a very basic definition, is deviating from what is expected.”  Exploring the  documentation of objects and household materials, incorporating real and imagined spaces, through various media, Bosak’s work incorporates emotionally charged spaces, absence and longing and home environment.

“I’ve been to a lot of LGBTQ shows that have a formula of exhibiting queer artists who make queer work, and it sometimes feels a little cliché. While my queerness has shaped my lens and makes up a large part of who I am, it is also very minute in comparison to the sum of all of my parts.” Queering will be the first time she has exhibited work on the Avenue since Heather Duffy’s WMCAT group show “Variations on the Line” a few years ago. Bosak continues her relationship with the Avenue for the Arts, but nowadays her involvement leans towards more of a viewer and art supporter.

Michael Pfleghaar’s older works also explore interior spaces and furniture, incorporating bright colors and modernist design. Newer pieces are abstractions that fluctuate between two dimensional and three dimensional spaces. In his artist statement, Michael reveals, “I am attracted to modern furniture, lighting and accessories because of their inherent abstract structure.  Through abstraction I am able to capture the spirit of modern design esthetics while creating a new original entity.  By attaching actual modern readymade objects to paintings, I create a dialog between utilitarian and non-utilitarian articles. As well as breaking the two dimensionality of a painting, the readymade presents a contrast of real against representation; the subject Modernist painters have struggled with throughout the twentieth century.” Michael has work in many permanent collections including the Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Frederick Meijer Garden.

“I asked the artists to chose whatever Artwork they wanted for the show. The Artwork isn’t propaganda for or against the issue”, recalls Vinson when asked about the call for work in the show. “The show is a celebration of diversity, especially of that which we have in our artists here already in the Grand Rapids arts community.”

Tommy Allen is another notable artist in the Grand Rapids community. When asked about his work in relation to the “Queering” show, Allen explains “As I thought about what I was seeking to showcase at this exhibition, I was reminded of a period in my early career. After I left college I spent the next few years exploring the human form with a heavy focus on the male subject in my earlier solo exhibitions to groups shows like a photo survey show at UICA in the late 1980s. I will be using Queering as an opportunity to curate from my past early works.”

While all three artists are advocated for LGBTQ issues, their work involves various topics apart from the theme of the show. Allen reflects, “The topic of Queering works for me since I have always wondered why a male artist who produces male imagery was labeled as queer in the first place when it was simply something that I did well…”

“Queering” takes place on June 5th during the Avenue for the Arts First Friday: The Market. Opening at 6:00 pm, you can find Steven Vinson inside of Spiral along with art from local artists and long time friends Michele Bosak, Tommy Allen and Michael Pfleghaar.

You can find these pieces and share in the discussion in person at Spiral Gallery this Friday June 5thfrom 6 – 10 p.m. Visit “Queering” at 44 S. Division Avenue during First Fridays: The Market. More information can be found on Spirals event page here!

The Avenue for the Arts is a neighborhood title for the South Division commercial corridor. We are residential, commercial and nonprofit groups working together in a creative community. We are residents in Heartside, and active participants in shaping change in our neighborhood. In 2005, we chose the Avenue for the Arts as a title to represent our commercial corridor and the projects and events that we create. Because the Avenue is powered by volunteers, guest writers create our Rapidian content. Special thanks to Learning Lab participant Madison May for her contribution to this piece. Madison is a Printmaker studying at Kendall College of Art and Design. Apart from her studies, she works for the Fed Galleries and Michaels Arts and Crafts. In her spare time she loves to garden and make paper. She also loves cats and keeps getting more on accident…sort of.

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