Art from Buckham Gallery’s Flint Water Crisis Exhibit

October 15, 2016

Artists interpret the Flint water crisis:

The Flint Water Crisis exhibit at Buckham Gallery opened on Friday, Oct. 14. Artist members and friends created various works of art through different mediums to show their interpretation of the water crisis.

Todd Onweller:

He designed his piece around his experiences. He said he lives in an area where his water is safe, but as a contractor he sees things that are completely unacceptable.

“Our water is not suitable for using, drinking or washing our hands,” Onweller said. “I provided a drinking fountain. It is one of those things that seems to be weird now that you don’t want to touch, like an old telephone. it seemed to be something that we wouldn’t see much use of anymore. I posed the question if these are safe to use anymore and asked ‘Why don’t you go first to see if it’s safe.'”

Gretchen Pruett:

Gretchen Pruett recently showed her five piece watercolor series titled “Lead Exposure” at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids.

Pruett said the pieces show different body parts that have been affected by lead.

“I worked from real medical images to produce these paintings,” Pruett said. “This show is incredibly important to bring awareness back to this unresolved crisis.”

Darryl Baird:

Darryl Baird is a photographer who lives and works in the city of Flint. His pieces included three photographs and a video of a substance flowing through a Flint creek.

In 2014 he was walking his dogs in the area of the Swartz Creek Golf Course heading towards the creek that runs through it. As he approached the bridge he smelled the strong odor of something similar to lighter fluid.

As he approached the water he saw an iridescent film on the water. He called the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and went back to the creek to film the incident.

“This is something I did because I felt it needed to be recorded because this affected me in a direct way,” Baird said.

Brian O’Leary:

Brian O’Leary is a photojournalist at heart. He said he was working to create a piece for the art show and came across the dam at the Flint River and knew it would be perfect.

He said the Flint Water Crisis exhibit is something positive to come out of a disaster as it reflects the people who live in the community.

“It affects everyone’s lives in this community and our future,” O’Leary said.

Tim Kranz:

Tim Kranz lives and works in downtown Flint and said it is impossible to not be affected by the water crisis. He said he wanted to do something similar to the “Visit California” or “Visit Michigan” postcards.

Kranz used a collage approach including parts of Flint and aspects inspired by the old postcards.

“The building in the background is the original Flint water plant,” Kranz said. “You can still see it from the Flint River trail and I thought it was a really interesting structure and yet kind of ominous — it’s falling down. I thought it was really good to put it in there.”

Christopher Zagacki:

Christopher Zagacki created a piece based on the old adage “Hook, line and sinker” to represent the Flint people being deceived by elected officials. The sinker on the piece has a representation of Rick Snyder’s head with two faces.

“It has a representation of Rick Snyder’s head, but it’s two faced to show the not public agenda,” Zagacki said.

Sally Strand:

Sally Strand had three pieces in the show. They ranged in emotions from sadness to anger. Strand said the sadness, anger, and manipulation surrounding the water crisis inspired her work.

“I think in a way it is healing to take a look at both ends of it,” Strand said.

Miriam Marcus:

Miriam Marcus created a large painting that spanned 14-feet by 15-feet that is based on people’s willingness to sacrifice nature and the sorrow that comes along with that. Marcus said her inspiration came through painting and looking at painters throughout history.

“It has to do with the sanctity of nature and water,” Marcus said. “We depend on them whether we want to admit it or not. For the air we breathe and the water we drink are at the root of everything. We need clean water.”

Guy Adamec:

Guy Adamec is a master potter. Adamec created dozens of mugs with a warning stating “Glazes could be toxic, just like the water in Flint, Michigan.”

“It doesn’t say if the glazes are toxic or not and it brings to consciousness that you can’t tell if something is poisonous by looking at it, just like the water,” he said.

Adamec is concerned that the water crisis is 903 days old and the process of fixing the problem is stalling out.

Craig Hinshaw:

Craig Hinshaw created ceramic water whistles based on the water tower, Flint River and water bottles. When someone blows into the creation it chirps like a bird and Hinshaw said blowing into them could bring a little happiness to someone affected by the water crisis.

“The idea is humor, because that is one way to respond to the tragedy,” Hinshaw said. “I have said blowing through them will bring a smile to you and everyone and maybe bring a tiny bit of healing to Flint.”

John Dempsey:

John Dempsey exhibited a painting that is part of a series that highlights a place, which is how people understand where they live and the environment where they live in, he said. His painting brings together a church, a factory and a stream.

“The church and the factory are man-made environments that are somewhat not the same, so I’m interested in bringing those together,” Dempsey said. “Then there is usually an element of nature as well in there and in this case, this painting seemed to fit the theme in the idea of nature.”

Check out the exhibit:

The Flint Water Crisis exhibit at Buckham Gallery runs through November 5, 2016. The gallery is located at 134 1/2 West Second Street and is open Thursday through Saturday 12 p.m. unti 5:30 p.m.

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