We’ve written before about the Detroit Fortress, the compound art space and residency in Detroit’s North End neighborhood. It’s where, for almost a decade, Steven Kuypers and Steven McShane have made their own art and worked in collaboration. They’ve also hosted artists from suburban Detroit and beyond, who've sought the inspiration of the environment, even as they inspire Kuypers and McShane. In fact, the last time we visited, we ran into a Cranbrook scholar on residency.
It’s only fitting, then, that this urban energy should one day make its way to the suburbs as well, and that’s what’s happening with Kuypers and McShane’s new show at Oakland University Art Gallery.
The show will give a wider group of spectators the chance to see the work that’s made at the Fortress. You won’t see the actual grit of the North End, but a handsome catalog put together by Dick Goody will offer an idea of what the environment looks like.
McShane says the catalog “focuses more on the day-to-day at Fortress than on the actual show objects, but the catalog will have 12 pages devoted to the actual show and another 12 to 24 devoted to the actual history of Fortress and where we’re planning on going.”
The catalog and the show are a big deal for the two artists. Kuypers explains: “We’ve had a lot of peers that we look up to have all done solo shows there, so we’re pretty proud to show there as well.”
What can gallerygoers expect? McShane says, “Large sculptural objects, mostly. Lot of heavy stuff.” Certainly an art shipping crate hanging from a gantry looks big and sculptural, but also might strike some as a bit of a gag about the art world amid the austere surroundings of OU. A scale wooden model of a backhoe is as impressive as it is creative.
But one piece will serve as a kind of collaboration between “the Steves” and their residents: “It’s kind of an archive of things that have been left behind,” McShane says. “Half-finished art pieces, weird trinkets and objects that people left behind over the years. We kind of collected them all together and put them on one wall as a kind of functioning archive of the Fortress. So that’s kind of the very remnants of the building itself.”
The show will have its opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, March 7, at 208 Wilson Hall, Oakland University, Rochester. It will remain up until April 5.