The Redbull House of Art opened its doors this past Thursday for its grand opening, which brought in thousands of eager visitors over the holiday weekend. PLAYGROUND DETROIT got a personal tour of the new artist residency program and exhibit space by one of the eight featured artists showing in the first round of quarterly curated shows. Franklin Jonas showed PD around the two-level space, which occupies an industrial building in Eastern Market, Detroit. This building previously housed Scrummage University, a DIY venue and art space run by the Scrummage crew. As the House of Art, this space will be home to eight chosen artists to work and play in, as well as becoming a rotating exhibit space- every 3-4 months there will be a new show in the gallery. The first group of chosen artists to be on display are Franklin Jonas, Ben Saginaw, Crystal Vinson, Peter Deangelo, Mark Sarmel, Keri Mortimer, and Jeff Risk. Check out our artist interview with Franklin after the photos! All of the art work in the Red Bull House Of Art is for sale. Contact Jesse Cory at firstname.lastname@example.org for more purchase information.
Franklin was so kind as to give PLAYGROUND DETROIT a tour of the space, and an interview on his work more about The House of Art.
PD: How long have you been in Detroit as an artist?
I’ve been working in the Detroit area as an artist since 1993. First in my apartment in Southfield, then in a studio in Pontiac. I’ve had 4 different studios in Pontiac over the years.”
PD: What is the focus of your work?
The focus of my work has always been simple geometry and color theory.”
PD: Where did you study? Are you self-taught?
I studied at Pratt in Brooklyn New York from 1988 to 1990. I dropped out and moved to Los Angeles to work in the film and television industry. After the riots I moved back to the area… I worked for an import company for a number of years, and then I got back into the art in 1993. Most of what I do is self-taught.”
PD: Are there any advantages or disadvantages to being an artist in Detroit?
In Detroit, there are a lot of companies that have advanced fabrication technology such as Lasers, CNC machines, water jet cutters. When the auto industry was in full swing, these companies were too busy to work with artists. Things have changed a lot in this regard. Now, artists and designers can work with these companies on projects with low runs. There is so much potential in Detroit, partially because of the empty spaces becoming available all the time.”
PD: How did you become involved with the Redbull House of Art?
Curator Matthew Eaton approached me after seeing some of my recent work on the STAR PROJECT. He told me about The Red Bull House Of Art, and I jumped at the chance to be involved.”
PD: What benefits do you recieve by working out of the House of Art?
Studio space for 8-10 weeks.Supplies paid for.Access to equipment.A chance to work with 7 other talented artists.An exhibition that is up for 3 months.Promotion through the Red Bull PR machine.A sales force selling the work. All of these great things were handed to us during one of the worst economies in recent history.
PD: Where do you see Detroit in five years? Ten years?
Detroit is a blank canvas. The city could become a showcase for art, both indoor galleries and outdoor murals. People like Matthew Eaton have gotten the ball rolling in a big way. I hope what I have done has added a little bit to it.”
PD: We completely agree. The changes in the city are all happening one person, one group, one block, and one neighbourhood at a time. Are there any other Detroit-based artists whose work you really admire?
I work in the ‘burbs, my studio is in Pontiac but I travel to many locations in order to do what I do though- Detroit, Tecumseh, Grand Rapids. I admire Detroit-based artists who live and or work in Detroit day in, day out. They live and breathe the city… but I don’t want to mention names for fear of leaving someone out.”
PD: How did the Star Project idea come about? What does it mean to you?
It was an idea from at least two years ago. There are so many geometric combinations with in the star. I became obsessed. It is also an opportunity to make one of a kind pieces that people could afford. There are total 360 stars in the Project.
It’s also another way for me to explore both simple geometry and new materials. There’s more to it, but I’d rather people view the work and come to their own conclusions.”
Where can people buy the remaining stars left in the exhibit?
Yes. Contact Jesse Cory for any inquiries for my work or any others you see here.
Check out these interviews with artist, Franklin Jonas and curator, Matthew Eaton below from the opening night!