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October 25, 2012 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2012-10-25

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4B - Thursday, October 25, 2012 ,, U l ..H
Eco-conscious METAL

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Stern and Walters
forge community
for metallurgy
For the Daily
METAL is a world of strik-
ing contrasts. Large imposing
machines crowd its fabrication
studio in Ann Arbor. There is a
plasma cutter, a sandblaster, a
milling machine for the textur-
izing of metals and a "break" that
bends and shapes metal parts.
A whimsical tin-man sculpture
greets entrants to the shop. Mel,
a large metal T-Rex, grins atop
the plasma cutter. These daunt-
ing devices are all industrial
machines that have been repur-
posed from industrial machines
to create works of art.
METAL, located on Felch
Street, is a metalworking studio,
gallery, classroom and venue for
performance. Since its open-
ing in 2011, owners Claudette
Jocelyn Stern and John Daniel
Walters have used the space to
create and display metal art.
Metalworking is energy-
intensive and is not tradition-
ally an environmentally friendly
endeavor. Yet environmental-
ism lies at the core of the craft
at METAL. Owners Stern and
Walters united in this shared
The duo first met at an iron
pour in Tucum Cari, New Mex-
ico in 2006, both driving envi-
ronmentally friendly vehicles.
Walter's car had been rigged to
run on cooking grease, while
Stern's ran on bio diesel. A few
years after their first meeting,
Walters moved to Ann Arbor
for graduate school to study
art. Shortly after attaining his
degree, he conceived METAL
with Stern, an Ann Arbor native.
" Since the studio's opening in
2011, other creative individuals
have sought out Stern and Wal-
ters, intent on becoming part of
the METAL family. Andrew Kyt
came to practice forging and
blacksmithing and singer-song-
writer Sarah Carroll joined the
METAL team as administrative
and marketing director.
Carroll said people of all
artistic backgrounds can find
inspiration at METAL.
"People really enjoy coming
in here and just being inspired
by art, whether it be interior
designers, or graphic designers,


Detroit Artist Michelle Tanguay exhibited her first solo show at LePop.

METAL will be offering a class on tintyping on Oct. 27 and 28.

or poets, or dancers, they just all
are inspired," Carroll said. "And
I think it's because art really
does transcend all those areas."
METAL also serves as an edu-
cational forum. On Oct. 27 and
28 METAL will hosta workshop
on tintype photography, an art
form with a strong metal con-
nection that involves creating
colloidal prints on metal surfac-
es. Tintype became popular in
the 1860s and was used exten-
sively for portraits throughout
the 19th century.
METAL itself came from re-
purposing and salvaging: The
light fixtures are relics from the
old Ice Cube skating rink; the
walls once comprised the ceiling
of an old gallery.
Stern said she frequently
travels to Michigan's Upper
Peninsula and out west in search
of found materials for METAL's
creations, noting that she first
became intrigued by found
materials as a small child in
southern California.
"There was so much debris
that would wash up. on the
beaches," Stern said. "You could
always find rusty bits of old
freighters that washed up or
other debris, and for me it was
just really fascinating.",
Walters heads project man-
agement, which involves over-
seeing each step of production
- from design to the final prod-
uct. Walters explained how he
takes a client's vision and helps

it come alive in metal. He added
that environmentalism takes a
top priority in his work.
"As a core component of my
belief, when I make something I
want it to last a very long time,"
Walters said. "That means a lot
to me and it sort of solidifies
the effort which I put into the
As a result of METAL's non-
traditional environmental con-
cerns, many of the patinas used
to coat the metal art are water-
based instead of being made
from toxic chemicals.
In addition to its environmen-
tal bent, Sterndescribes METAL
as "devoted to the idea of com-
munity." To this end, METAL
provides a venue for other forms
of artistic expression. A band
performed in its studio, and the
poetry group, One Pause Poetry,
calls the studio its home.
During One Pause perfor-
mances, the fabrication studio is
transformed into an auditorium
with folding chairs and a small
stage. Poets including Univer-
sity professors Ken Mikolowski
and Matthew Rohrer perform
at METAL. During a recent
performance, Rohrer shared
dream-like verses written in
the hypnagogic state between
sleeping and waking, while
Mikolowski charmed the crowd
with his wry two-line poems.
Before making METAL its
permanent home, One Pause
held its readings in a barn on

Liberty Street. Rohrer recalled
with a laugh that Pulitzer prize-
winning poet, Tracy Smith, read
her poetry in a tent in the barn,
adding that he likes the commu-
nity-oriented feel METAL gives
to the readings.
"Poetryis often presented in a
classroom setting or an academ-
ic setting," Rohrer said. "That's
fine, but poetry is bigger than
that. It predates it. Here we can
come together with the commu-
nity at large in an art setting."
METAL's commitment to
community extends far beyond
the boundaries of Ann Arbor
and even the United States.
After the devastating 2011 tsu-
nami, members of METAL and
other local artists met to discuss
how they could support the Jap-
anese community.
"The Japanese decided that
what they needed was an event
to encourage children to con-
nect with art and use it as a vehi-
cle for some amount of healing
after that tragedy and trauma,"
Stern said.
The artists auctioned pieces
off to benefit the cause, using
their creativity as a catalyst for
global healing.
METAL is many things to
many people: an environmental-
ly friendly metalworking shop,
a teaching space and a venue
for creative expression. Stern
said the contrasts and oppo-
sites present at METAL come
together to create its intriguing
"My business partner and I
are opposites in a lot of ways,"
Stern said. "But the oppositional
aspects create a whole that real-
ly makes METAL a supremely
interesting place and gives us a
lot of possibilities."
Stern also sees a unifying
theme in the disparate elements
of metal.
"Making (art) or making a
business work is all the same to
me," Stern said. "It takes vision,
it takes hard work, and it takes
planning and it also takes a lotof
kismet. But more than anything
it takes the right chemistry of
people and their willingness to
work through a lot just like you
do in any family or relationship."

From Page 1B
The movement originated in
the United Kingdom during the
1980s, but drifted to the U.S. dur-
ing the emergence of techno in
Today, in Ann Arbor and else-
where, warehouse parties have
become a hybrid of DJ-driven
music and art installations.
Roughly six years ago, Ann
Arbor-based art collective Forth
From Its Hinges threw its first
warehouse party. Originally, co-
founder Sam Haddix wished to
display his artwork on the walls
of the local coffee shop Elixir
Vitae Coffee and Tea. But after
being informed of the shop's
three-month waiting list, he
decided to create his own show.
Near the Ann Arbor Airport
on Plaza Drive, the exhibition
featured a variety of art medi-
ums including paintings, instal-
lations, short films, live music
and DJs. The event was free, and
open to all ages. After the success
of the first showing, Forth From
Its Hinges organized a handful
of other Happenings in the same
After drifting apart over the
years, certain members of Forth
have assisted with the most ,
recent warehouse party to arrive
"The event is not only about
curating Ann Arbor art, but hav-
ing a lot of fun with it," Joshua
Bay, a musician featured in the
show, said.
In early September, Architec-
ture and Urban Planning senior
Olivia Vander Tuig co-organized
SHADOW/SHADOW, which was
promoted as an art show and
dance party. The event featured
local artists, DJs and musicians,
including Bay, a University alum
who goes by Known Moons.
Bay takes "having a lot of fun"
to heart in his performances as
he sometimes plays the guitar
with aviolin string.
place in a 7,000-square-foot
space located in an isolated area
on Main Street. The warehouse
had been used as Penny W.
Stamps School of Art & Design
faculty studios from 1998 until
November 2011.
While the show was supposed
to operate as a place of artistic
freedom and celebration, there
were was a $5 cover, a 21-and-up
age requirement and a dress code
of all black.
Still, the event brought a con-
temporary spin to the warehouse
"We drew a lot of our inspira-
tion from the Detroit warehouse
party, where people would go set
up for a night and go until they
got kicked out," Vander Tuig

goes to (the University's con-
certs) besides the Music School
With a lack of facilities to
showcase experimental art in
Ann Arbor, ComphouS provides
a homey, accepting turf for new
sounds. Johnson, who is also part
of the, musical collective GRL
MTN, said the collaboration of
people and sounds can tap into
unexplored harmonies.
"We are trying to have some-
thing where electronic musicians
play and then, at the same time,
have some classical music going
on, too," he said. "And then try
to combine these two different
worlds that are separate."
Inthe computer
"I think the Internet is really
helping to facilitate our music
scene," Johnson explained. "Peo-
ple are listening to each other's
music online who didn't know
each other in person and then
deciding to meet up."
Due to developments in tech-
nology, these contemporary
Happenings are taking on new
forms in Ann Arbor. The Inter-
net is used as a connecting forum
for artists. GRL MTN and local
band Chrome Sparks even found
a bandmate ina chat room.
In a generation consumed by
social media, there are new and
meta ways of promoting, creating
and preserving Happenings.
LSA senior Cory Hearns
attends local concerts and shoots
interestingly crafted short films.
"I was inspired by this French
blog, La Blogotheque," Hearns
said. "Whenever bands come
through Paris, they film these
very grainy one-take videos of
bands playing in obscure places."
Hearns uses this approach to
create his own film technique.
"I just bring my camera, and at
certain moments I click record,"
Hearns explained. "I won't stop
until the song is finished."
After the shows, Hearns posts
the videos on various social
networking and media web-
sites. Artists greatly appreciate
Hearns's films since they act as
artistic forms of preservation and
even as promotion.
The Internet and film are
innovations that allow for art to
be created, accessed and shared
faster than ever. Many art critics
believe that new media further
blurs the line between the artist,
the artwork and the viewer.
The movement
With the University's ameni-
ties, cultural institutions and
valued public art, Ann Arbor
prides itself on its creative cul-
ture. Below this topography lies
an energetic community that
is redefining how people' view
and experience art. This group

. .1


Claudette Jocelyn Stern and John Daniel Waters founded METAL in 2011.

is pushing audiences out of the
Within the house white box known as a gallery
and into new, inventive spaces.
With burdens of rent and Though it is partially due to
maintenance fees, there's a grow- extortionate real estate prices in
ing trend in Ann Arbor of turning downtown Ann Arbor, there is a
houses into a venue. From site- paradigm shift occurring: "art"
specific art installations to full- is transforming from a noun to a
fledged concerts, residents and verb.
students are treating theirhomes "Art shows in Ann Arbor are
like studio spaces. unique," said Chartier. "And they
In Kerrytown, a handful are unique, in the fact that it is
of School of Music, Theatre & not just a bunch of people kind of
Dance composition students call standing around and talking in,
their home "Comphou5." like, big, fancy words about art."
The residents are no longer the The "new Happening" move''
only ones calling it by that name. ment has an emphasis on mobility
Since September, Comphou5 has - physically and electronically.
hosted shows that blur the line While Happenings offer a flex-
between college house party and ibility of space, the digital world
independent music venue. allows for a new portability
"We were sort of trying to cre- and accessibility into art. This
ate our own alternative to having engagement and celebration of*
concerts in the Music School," art offers a new, authentic voice
said Music, Theatre & Dance within Ann Arbor. Yet it begs
senior and Comphou5 resident the question: Has the party just
Samn Johnson. "No one really begun?


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