Owners Amy and Steve Stinson have purposely taken on the A location in Traverse Citys shopping corridor (also known as the Arcade) to become a destination on downtown Front Street.
We offer one-of-a-kind art and handmade objects for office, home and body, Amy says. Its no secret that I love jewelry and baubles, but our overall art collection lets you experience the sensibility of this area and beyond. We are very excited about being a part of downtown.
Honoring the lofting gallery movement of the 1970s, the Stinsons have created an urban atmosphere where paintings, pastels, illustrations, sculpture, glass, fiber and pottery are the center of attention. With a great deal of old fashion hard work, friends and family uncovered the ceiling ductwork and the post-and-beam structure.
The Stinsons brightened the brick interior with fresh paint, carpet and new lighting - reflecting their upbeat personalities. Amy frowns facetiously at gallery manager Pam Dow and states, Pickaxes aside, our mission now is to put art into everyday life, because art feeds the spirit.
Tantalizing their patrons with metaphors of fantasy and pastel-hued landscapes, the collaborative management duo has chosen artists by mingling local high art with shimmering highfalutin glitter.
Undaunted by convention, Stinson and Dow, in an added breach of decorum, have also included more naïve art. Naive, self-taught artists and their playful works tend to challenge the more accepted academicisms with their simplistic approach.
On a dedicated wall, Jil Johnsons naive structures are composed of a variety of materials; combinations of humble wood and found materials - like scraps of fabric and metal. With both invention and expression, her creations simultaneously embody an endearing sense of humor, absurdity and warmth.
Usually more visceral than intellectual, Johnson begins with a preconceived plan, but ultimately works intuitively, allowing the figures to reveal themselves. The busy new mothers forms have a delightful range of homespun allegories and traps. Her large horse profile is ecstatically relevant - attuning the viewer to Johnsons subtle wit.
Moving through the gallery, conversations naturally focus on another standout genre. Local NMC instructor Jerry Gates, known for his vital continuity of work, is securely enthroned with his unequivocal nod to Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline, elegant stylized abstraction and controlled intellectualism. Each oil pastel over acrylic is an effective study of the issues of form, line and color, but this modern iconoclast (or sometimes outlaw Surrealist) could step beyond his nature to glimpse the audacious ideas that challenged institutions of the past to bring his paintings over-the-top. Meantime, regulars can continue to take pleasure in his pure abstractions, sublime landscapes and visionary textural still lifes, but of course - always reflecting a strong measure of control.
Gargantuan horses seem to prevail at the new Art and Soul Gallery. Dan Herons horse study is centerstage without any flourishing illusions. Since the Renaissance, artists have been preoccupied with various ideas about how to represent three-dimensional forms on a two-dimensional plane. One after another pictorial mode has been explored and challenged. The recent Minimalist Movement reduces canvases to one plane only.
Herons work explores and redefines this recent representation of dimensionality. His horse becomes an intentional fragmentation in a uniformity of color and tonality, where forms seem to float rather than recede into the delicate gray plane. Herons quiet aesthetic is deliberately spatial using surface relationships to create a space within a space.
On another wall, it is natures lore that draws customers to Chuck Formans sporting watercolors. The consummate outdoorsman translates his aesthetic in an array of colors highlighting shimmering water, the scenic character and activities of Michigan coastal living. Accustomed to the proximity of lakes, woods and wildlife, Forman has developed a deep reverence for animals and their natural habitats. His watercolors are bright essences of local scenes and wild places.
Art & Soul Gallery is an ideal playground for shedding stresses and enjoying a feast of cultivated novelty. Without pristine walls or an overblown cerebral context, there is a special efflorescence to this relocated gallery. The extensive collection is a celebration of diversity, color and craftsmanship.