Window gallery enriches downtown Albion

Art galleries are commonly associated with bustling metropolises — cities bursting with an untiring variety of colorful spectacles. Alternatively galleries are given as cavernous and upscale with a generous dose of severity. In these cases, rope often acts as a strict security measure, setting viewers back from the work.

Window Gallery, belonging to Albion College Assistant Professor of painting and drawing Michael Dixon, defies both of these stereotypes.

Nestled on the corner of South Superior and Cass Street in downtown Albion, the gallery was established during the Festival of the Forks on Sept. 20-21.

Uniquely, the gallery doesn’t have any hours of operation. Since all the art is displayed in the windows, “it’s there all day, every day and every night,” Dixon said.  Its accessibility to passersby arguably enhances the aesthetics of downtown.

Dixon has high hopes for the gallery, envisioning it will be a largely student-run space. Art majors will hang and curate the shows, providing a beneficial internship experience.

Currently displaying senior Bridget Ruff’s work, the Window Gallery has several opportunities for growth.

“It could definitely be a space that features national or international artists, plus student work,” Dixon said.

Beyond this aim, Dixon imagines the storefront could host college club events.

“[I] would like to partner up with Creative Writing, [and] it could be a space where poetry readings are held,” Dixon said. While maintaining a focus on student work, the gallery is to act as a link between the campus and downtown Albion.

With Provost Susan Conner and Interim President Michael Frandsen’s support, Dixon imagines the gallery could eventually take up several empty window spaces downtown.

His storefront is a solid demonstration of a gallery’s ability to stand on its own and enrich its surroundings while engaging members of the local community.

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Photos by Bridget Ruff

Albion College senior Bridget Ruff is double-majoring in art and art history. She is currently looking into graduate schools.

What has inspired your artwork most?
“My dad worked for a car company and did a lot of sketching for cars. Now he does a lot of landscapes and animals; a lot of paintings. He’s done water scenes and lighthouses; it’s like a hobby.”

Did your dad’s work influence your passion for art?
“It definitely did because he did a lot of drafting and I would sit and watch him.”

Do you have a favorite medium?
“I’m a 2-D type of artist. I like drawing, painting and printmaking, but printmaking’s what I have the most experience with, and I really love doing it. It’s a really long process, but once it’s all finished, it’s a very rewarding feeling.”

What is your favorite piece in the exhibit?
“The one that’s most popular is called “Expressing”. That’s the one I feel people like the most. I don’t know if I have a favorite, I like them all. But my hands [“Drawing Me”] are something I want to work with more. I kind of view [“Drawing Me”] as an unfinished piece, so I want to go back and do more to that print.

Why do you see it as unfinished?
“There’s so much more potential for it. The sketch behind the hands is supposed to be a self-portrait, but you can’t really tell and it’s kind of unclear. I want to play around with that idea of self-portrait more and add different points of view.”

How long did your pieces take to complete?
“They all took a really long time. The legs print [“Expressing”] probably took me three weeks. I had to use metal sandpaper to bring back some of its lighter grey tone. When it finally turned out fine it was like, ‘Hallelujah!'”

Why do you find yourself particularly drawn to self-portraits?
“When I’m grappling for inspiration, I immediately come back to myself. I feel like that’s the purest form of inspiration. There are so many different ways you can express yourself. You can be abstract or realistic with it; it’s something all artists like.”

Photos by Bridget Ruff

About Emma Planet 18 Articles
Emma is a first-year at Albion College from Sterling Heights, Michigan. She is pursuing a double-major in English and Environmental Studies as well as a pre-law concentration. She uses her writing to raise awareness about environmental issues and adores pretzels paired with junior mints. Add her on Twitter: @PlanetEmma29

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