Edward Sheriff Curtis Inashah - Yakima copyright 1910, published 1911 Volume 7 Portfolio, Plate 220

Your Guide to the Muskegon Museum of Art’s Summer Exhibitions

With a selection of 150 photogravures from “The North American Indian” by Edward Curtis, and moving to more recent times with vintage motorcycles from area bike collectors, 1951 stock car race photos, contemporary hyper-realistic sculptures of people, and a circus peanut and honey bear installation created from wax, the exhibitions at Muskegon Museum of Art will trace a swath of American history and culture this summer.

“The 150th Anniversary of Edward Curtis: 150 Masterpieces from The North American Indian,” May 24 – Sept. 9
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 24, 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Edward Sheriff Curtis Luzi - Papago copyright 1907, published 1908 Volume 2 Portfolio, Plate 53
Edward Sheriff Curtis, Luzi – Papago
copyright 1907, published 1908
Volume 2 Portfolio, Plate 53

Fresh off of a hugely successful exhibit last year of Edward Curtis’ “The North American Indian,” which was shown in its entirety, the MMA offers a new show featuring 150 masterpieces from the collection.

The Muskegon Museum of Art featured the entire collection of “The North American Indian” over the summer of 2017 in a multi-gallery exhibition that attracted visitors from around the world. The exhibition was both a celebration of Curtis’s achievement and an examination of the dual nature of its legacy, of the preservation of knowledge and culture, and the harmful perpetuations of stereotypes and prejudices that continue to affect the social and political landscape in our country today.

The 2018 exhibition examines some of the criticism of Curtis’ works, using the photos to present the dilemmas that are part of an understanding of the project’s legacy. The show will also feature the premiere of newly acquired copper plates used in the creation of the photogravures, and several of the volumes.

“American Icon: The Art of the Motorcycle” & “Whiskey Ridge: The Summer of ‘51,” May 17 – August 12
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 17, 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Hot Rod Harley Collection
Hot Rod Harley Collection

Conjuring images of freedom and rebel-culture, the motorcycle is an American icon, and the Muskegon Museum of Art offers a look at the vintage motorcycle’s legacy with “American Icon: The Art of the Motorcycle” along with complementary exhibition, “Whiskey Ridge: The Summer of ’51,” that looks at another iconic American pastime, stock car racing.

“American Icon” offers a glimpse at the artistry of the motorcycle over the years, through vintage and custom bikes drawn from Muskegon area collections. The display includes motorcycles from Harley-Davidson alongside early, ultra-rare examples from American manufacturers Henderson and Excelsior. “American Icon” also features portraits and images that highlight the artistry of customized motorcycles and the men and women who ride them by Michigan photographers Bill Chardon and Jennifer Green.

“Whiskey Ridge” features twelve photographs that Dorothy “Dot” Thompson took with her Kodak Brownie box camera in the summer of 1951 at the Whiskey Ridge Raceway, also known as the Newaygo County Speedway and the Maple Island Raceway, a 3/8 mile dirt oval track located in Grant, Michigan.

The photos capture a sense of the speed and dangerous thrills of early stock car races. Images include the dramatic events of the day and the faces of the drivers and spectators, providing a contemporary look at local racing history.

“Up Close and Personal: The Ultra-Realistic Sculpture of Marc Sijan,”
May 17 – August 12
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 17, 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

"Embrace" by Marc Sijan
“Embrace” by Marc Sijan

“Up Close and Personal: The Ultra-Realistic Sculpture of Marc Sijan” looks at Sijan’s hyper-realistic, life-sized sculptures of the human figure. The exhibition will feature multiple full-size figures, accompanied by head and shoulder busts.

“Often depicting everyday people, Sijan infuses his materials with pathos and empathy,” said Art Martin, MMA senior curator. “Caught in quiet narratives, the sculptures invite surprise, followed by lengthy interaction and examination from the viewer.”

Sijan begins his sculptures by developing a story or concept, then looks for a model that best embodies the narrative he wants to convey. He prefers to work with those he describes as “everyday” people whose features he considers unique.

Sijan creates a sculpture by casting directly from a model to create a plaster replica. Polyester resin is cast from the plaster to create the final sculpture, which the artist then details with up to fifteen layers of oil paint to simulate the appearance of skin. Hair, props, clothing, and prosthetic eyes are used to fill in the final details.

“Perchance to Dream: The Art of Michael Peoples,” June 21 – Sept. 16
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 21, 5:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

"Perchance to Dream: The Art of Michael Peoples"
“Perchance to Dream: The Art of Michael Peoples”

Michael Peoples creates cast wax sculptures of pop culture objects and icons. His intensely colored objects celebrate nostalgia and kitsch, translating cartoon character Halloween buckets, honey bear bottles, garden ornaments, and the like into entrancing, candy-like sculptures and installations.

“Perchance to Dream” is a gallery installation featuring hundreds of cast circus peanuts, an iconic childhood sweet. Towering structures of stacked casts of the equally iconic honey bear bottle punctuate a carpet of multi-colored peanuts in the installation.

“The installation is a captivating tribute to American kitsch, of mass-production, repetitive and time-consuming labor, and the sugary joys of childhood,” Martin said. “Guests are invited to explore this playful blend of mass-production, repetitive and time-consuming labor, and the sugary joys of childhood in an installation that transforms how the gallery is perceived.”

Peoples lives in Grand Haven and maintains a shared studio space in a converted warehouse in Grand Rapids.

Additional exhibitions on display throughout the summer:

“Pictures of the Best Kind: Treasures from the Permanent Collection”
“Picasso in Print: 20th Century European Masters”

*Photos courtesy of Muskegon Museum of Art (main photo: Edward Sheriff Curtis, Inashah – Yakima, copyright 1910, published 1911, Volume 7 Portfolio, Plate 220)