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The Art of Creating an Exhibition

Hear from an artist turned curator about creating professional shows in nontraditional spaces.
Underwriting support from:

Lux et tenebris

April 11,  6-10 p.m.

87 Orange Photography 

105 Division Avenue South

Attend Art.Downtown. for a fun night surrounded by the artwork created and displayed for you by the artists who live and work in our city.

/Paul Warfield

Artist Steven Rainy

Artist Steven Rainy /Photo by Mark Andrus

Artwork by Paul Warfield

Artwork by Paul Warfield /Paul Warfield

Brandon Alman doesn’t quite remember how he got involved with the Avenue for the Arts, but believes it began with the Markets, then he started attending planning meetings and was part of the discussions that started the Advisory Committee. After five years he continues to participate in Avenue as an Advisory Committee member and during events as an artist, curator, collaborator, planner and volunteer. On April 11th during Art.Downtown. Brandon is curating Lux et tenebris located at 87 Orange Photogaphy. As a seasoned member of the Avenue he hopes to raise the bar and set an example of how a polished a one-night show during Art.Downtown. can offer a meaningful experience of fine art.

For Art.Downtown. this year Brandon knew he wanted to curate a show exercising complete control and attention to the little details that add up to create a valuable aesthetic experience. After graduating from Kendall in 2010 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking, Brandon’s involvement working as a preparator installing exhibitions for the UICA, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and the Broad Art Museum at MSU lead him to see the value in presenting artwork to the public in an organized manner. This year the Avenue for the Arts began an Assistant Curator program, so Brandon is able to share his expertise with Callie Cherry, a History student at Aquinas. Along with mentoring aspiring curators Brandon enjoys encouraging promising emerging artists to show their work and is happy being “the middle man” and attending to the exhibition details with his artist’s eye.

Upon seeing a suite of over 40 individual screen prints his friend and studio-mate Steven Rainey created during the Cabin Time Residency last year, Brandon was compelled to hang all of the prints so they could be viewed at once and truly appreciated. Cabin Time is a roaming creative residency where a group is selected to essentially go camping together in a remote place and make site-specific work in cooperative intentional isolation. Steven’s work from this residency represents an artful toying with the process of screen-printing and the constraints of being in the wilderness. Using a medium that usually involves making reproductions of one image Steven made single-edition screen prints that are each unique.  After creating one print from the screen, he washed it out to create the next piece. “It’s the particles of the river that create the actual negative space of the image,” Brandon explains, Steven used “turmeric, lambs blood, beet root, cats claw bark, and mustard seed” as printing inks.

Brandon remembers the first time he saw Paul Warfield’s sculptural work at Sanctuary Folk Art gallery during an Avenue event he fell in love with it. “Through that mass of visual stimulation it stuck out at me… it was new media, self-illuminated, sculptural, the craft was really well done and I hadn’t ever seen anything like that being made in this city,” Brandon recalls. Paul has recently graduated from GVSU with an art degree and Brandon is aware that “a lot of people get out of school and don’t make a lot of work and I’m one person that that happened to.” So, he asked Paul show a small selection of recent work and to create a site specific installation for the show he was curating at 87 Orange Photography Studio for Art.Downtown this year. 

87 Orange photography studio offers the curator a traditional gallery white box to allow viewers to understand that they are entering a space organized for them to view art. Keeping the show to two artists focuses the emphasis on “the interesting dialogue between the two,” as Steven observes. The exhibition of Steven’s prints and Paul’s self-illuminated sculpture presents certain logistical challenges:  the prints will need to be presented with proper lighting to make the details visible and the sculpture will have to be surrounded by darkness for the self-illuminated effect to be fully appreciated. Out of this dual need for darkness and light came the title for the show lux et tenebris, Latin for ‘from darkness, light’.

Brandon finds the practice of naming shows to be frustrating at times, but agrees with Paul that it’s “the honesty of the material” being exhibited that is the most important. So he chose a simple, familiar motto which Brandon believes “links the concept and formal qualities of putting the show together.” He uses the Latin to remove immediate definition and require further investigation. This allows visitors to interpret the work for themselves while viewing the exhibition and invites them to continue thinking about it after leaving the space.

Lux et tenebris will be open from 6 – 10 p.m. on April 11th at 105 Division Avenue South. Attend Art.Downtown. for a fun night surrounded by the artwork created and displayed for you by the artists who live and work in our city.



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 choose 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 Kate Lewis, potter, maker, Avenue member and writer for her coverage of "lux et tenebris"  

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