Wednesday, July 16, 1975
THE MICHIGAN DA[LY
LOCAL ART GALLERIES:
Talentdoesn't aywayspay the bis
By BILL TURQUE
Although leaves will soon be starting to turn their
color and fall from the trees, the visual arts are
blossoming in Ann Arbor. For both the passionate art
lover and the weekend gallery hopper, there are
numerous and varied chances to pursue the best work
of local artists, in addition to the latest from national
and international art capitals.
Art for art's sake not withstanding, galleries are
businesses. Rent, advertising and other expenses must
be paid for, primarily from the commissions galleries
receive on sales. Consequently, many of the city's
more established exhibitors shy away from artists who
lack at least some notoriety.
"WE DON'T give a show to an artist unless they have
had some exposure," said Alice Simsar, co-owner of
the Lantern, at 301 N. Main. She said the Lantern does
not take on many local artists because "one can be-
"It is important to keep up with what is going on in
places like New York and Chicago," Simsar said.
She admits decisions on what works to exhibit in-
variably become personal ones, reflecting "what direc-
tion a gallery chooses to go in."
"WHILE WE tend to deal more with abstract works,"
said Simsar, "one has to maintain some sort - of
"It is important to be objective," said Hedger -Breed,
owner of Repartee, a comparatively new gallery at
218 Washington. Breed, once an artist himself, seems
to be searching for a compromise between the eco-
nomic necessities of showing commercially viable art,
nd giving exposure to talented unknowns.
"I don't have any unpreconceived notion of what
sells," Breed claimed, "but I'm very sure of myself
and my personal instincts."
THE FORSYTHE Galleries, on the second floor of
the Nickels Arcade, is the city's oldest and, to some,
most prestigious art dealer. For the most part, only
the works of well established artists see the inside of
"If I feel that an artist deserves to be seen," said
Forsythe's Daniel DeGraaf, "I'll try to steer him to
One observer of the local art scene said it seemed
as if many members of the University's art school
faculty were "literally under contract" to Forsythe.
DeGraaf acknowledged that he had "gentlemen's agree-
ments" with eight or nine faculty members to show
their work exclusively at the Forsythe.
THERE ARE, however, at least two local galleries
designed to ease artists of th no-e posure-no-show, no-
show-no-exposure merry-go-round. The Union Gallery,
on the first floor of the Michigan Union, is specifically
designed to help younger artists get their work shown.
At 3 Oper cent, the Union's commission is compara-
"The scope of gallery activity is by no means limited to the professional outlets. Two of the city's most popu-
lar bookstores, Borders and David's Books, both have small galleries, as do the Rackham Graduate School
and the Undergraduate Library."
tively low, and can be kept that way only through heavy
underwriting by the Michigan Union. Artists showing
their works at the Union have to do more in the way
of preparation than at the commercial galleries.
But money is still tight and the gallery is looking for
ways to generate more revenue. This fall, the Union
will be opening a print room where reproductions priced
at $10 and up will be available. Bi-monthly concerts and
dances in conjunction with the School of Music and
the dance department are also planned.
ANOTHER alternative to the commercial galleries is
the University's North Campus Commons. Exhibitions
running from water colors to tapestry have been
organized over the past few years by the building's
supervisor, Natalie McMinn. Her work in this area
has been strictly extracurricular, and she has received
no money or resources from the University.
The revenue from the modest 20 per cent commission
she charges is used to purchase pieces of art for the
building, enlivening what is essentially a rather drab
array of vending macihnes, cafeterias, and conference
rooms. McMinn tells the exhibiting artists:
"I'll give you the walls, loan you a ladder and a
hammer, but that's about all."
THE PROGRAM has enjoyed good success with the
gallery solidly booked through next June.
While art exhibitions may seem to be thriving in
Ann Arbor, the attrition rate is quite high. DeGraal
estimates 85 per cent close before the end of their first
year of operation. Jacob's Ladder, a popular gallery
near the Farmer's Market, fell victim to the money
pinch in early June.
One art establishment that does not have to worry
about its business Ls the University's Art Museum, to-
cated on State St., right next to Angell Hall. Museum
Director Brett Waller said he likes to keep the con-
tent of the museum's exhibitions in touch with the sur-
rounding scholarly community.
"WE TRY NOT to operate in a vacuum," said Waller.
This fall's shows at the museum include the works
of Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt, 18th century prints
and drawings, and in November, "images of love and
death in medieval and renaissance art."
The Jean Paul Slusser Gallery, located on North
Campus at the University's Art and Architecture School,
is primarily an outlet for student and faculty work.
The Arcade Laundry shares its Maynard
St. storefront with Saguaro Plants. There
is always someone in attendance to give
[ nhange. the shadow
of the Maynard St.
33 m ynard