It’s exciting to report that groups all over Michigan are working hard to keep creative people busy and in the spotlight. There couldn’t be a better way to describe what’s going on in Flint these days. As we know here in Detroit, we often have to defend our love of our city to those not familiar with it, and Flint is no stranger to that. This Friday marks 2007’s first Guerilla Art Show, an event that promises to bring together some of the best in art, craft, and music. Meet Chris Ringler, one of the show’s organizers. Along with fellow guerillas Glen Birdsall, Justin Zeglevski, Stephen Vincent, and Vanessa Perez, Flint is a much artsier place because of these kids.
How long/how many shows have happened so far?: We began doing the shows last July during downtown Flint’s monthly art walk. It was an idea from our landlord who wanted to use the available space of the first floor of our building, so he proposed a ‘guerilla art show’. We loved the idea and ran with it, and had the first official show on October 13 during another art walk. We were able to have around 20 artists and over 125 visitors on what turned out to be a pretty awful and snowy night. So, as of now, we’ve done two shows with the third occurring the 13th (this Friday).
How did the Guerilla Art Show come about? Where did the name come from?: Again, the show took it’s name from our landlord, Joel Rash, who had come up with the idea for a ‘guerilla’ style art show. The ideas for a guerilla style art show was inspired by attending a Detroit crafters show and wanting to bring that sort of art show and community to Flint. There is an active arts scene here and a great art group here, but there hadn’t been that sort of a show and we (myself, Chris Ringler) and Justin Zeglevski were really inspired after attending that show in Detroit and after talking to one of the people there that we knew, Bethany Nixon (Reware Vintage). We lucked out and a space to do this sort of event fell into our laps and we ran with it. What are you trying to accomplish with putting the show on?: More than anything, we’re hoping that we can get some exposure for artists who haven’t gotten a lot of chances to show their work either in this area or at all. We want to bring different types of art and artists to Flint and expose the area to more variety.
What can guests expect when they come out?: Guests will enter one of downtown Flint’s most distinct buildings and find a make-shift gallery that is utterly transformed when artists, music, and guests are put together in there. It’s one of the most unique art show locations you can imagine and really works for this event.
What kind of work will be represented?: We’ll have painters, photographers, digital artists, 2-D artists, crafters, clothing designers and makers, a DJ, a roaming guitarist, and much more.
Photo by Chris, http://www.myspace.com/625flint
What do you hope people take away from the show?: Everyone who comes to one of the Guerilla shows will walk away with the feeling that yes, there is a very active arts community, and while it isn’t always visible, it’s there, waiting to be discovered or re-discovered. Guests will get a chance to speak one on one with artists and other guests without any pretense or artifice and in a space that strips away the impersonal atmosphere of a classic gallery.
What would you want people unfamiliar to Flint know about the city?: Flint and its art scene are both alive and well. With galleries like the Buckam Gallery, the Greater Flint Arts Council, and Red Ink Studios, there are places for art and artists of all skill level and variation, but sometimes it takes a show like the Guerilla shows to remind people of that. Flint looks pretty rough but it’s on the edge of becoming a genuinely neat place again and hopefully the Guerilla shows will add to that atmosphere of a youthful arts scene bubbling just under the surface.
How much work has gone into planning the show?: We have been planning for this show since Decemeber, but became active, and put together a small committee in January. Most of the work has been promotion and putting the artist list together but the past month has been making sure the building is ready for everyone and last minute details. There are five people who live in the building and we five have made sure that things are running as smoothly as possible – we’ve taken ownership of the event and have had the luck of the support of the committee members who have put a lot of time and effort into making this as great an event as we know it can be.
Where’s the best place to be after the show?: At 10 p.m. we’re having an after party at The Loft, a local bar where we’ll have music until 2 a.m. There will be four bands, three that are local to Flint, and that will really show how varied and interesting our music scene here is. There is a $3 cover for people over 21, and if you are under 21 it’s $7.
More than anything, we hope that this show inspires other people as we were inspired in Detroit, to not just think about art, but to do it and to share it. We are planning for two more Guerilla shows this year and hopefully a couple of surprise art shows between them, if things come together, but we’ll keep everyone posted via MySpace.
And what did Reware Bethany have to stay about being involved with the event?: “It was absolutely inspiring. It was a true “DIY” show – there were painters, writers, artists, designers, musicians and DJs that all had their own talents to bring to it, and it was awesome that this new outlet to showcase their work was created by the Guerilla team. I met so many people throughout the night that were passionate about supporting the creative arts in both Flint and Michigan that I left the show with new motivation and a feeling of urgency to do my part to further the movement in egvery way I could. It was a great time and great people, and an overall fantastic experience.”