The Red Bull House of Art was a full house during its Resident Artists Exhibition on Friday, July 28. The RBHOA team said 1150 guests filled the gallery to see the works of this current round's resident artists.
“We have three resident artist’s exhibitions a year because each residency round lasts three months,” communications coordinator Allison Kruske said. “People get really interested over those three months watching the behind the scenes process that is shown in the studio and it builds the anticipation.”
This rounds artists Steve Kim, Jose Mertz and Felicia Forte were hand-picked by the gallery director Matt Eaton ensuring a comfortable and inspiring work environment, Kruske said. Kim is not a native Detroiter and said he felt right at home.
“I really love Detroit, I’m from Mississippi but Detroit somehow feels southern,” Kim said. “Since Matt called me out of the blue and asked me to be a part of this everyone has been supportive every step of the way.”
For the exhibition, Kim referenced photos and selfies to create a primarily figurative body of work using pencil and acrylic paint. His modern approach on an old school portrait tradition of using models allows him to work primarily from home. So working and living in a collaborative space for three months was incomparable, according to Kim.
“I usually work by myself at home,” Kim said. “So all of a sudden to have a team behind you that has your back and meeting all these different people is surreal.”
Kim, Mertz and Forte blended into the dense crowd simply amazed by how many people attended, according to Mertz.
“It’s not about me it’s about the artwork,” Mertz said. “I’m just happy people are coming here to see art and are not going to the movie theatres.”
The Miami based artist said he toned down his eastern mythology, manga and African tribal inspired works in order to blend in with the rest of the exhibition. However, the wall to wall tiger illustration stands out as one of the night’s statement pieces and possibly served as preparation for his next project.
“My next move is doing a mural in the design district of Miami Florida,” Mertz said. “It’s for a major department store.”
Forte on the other hand, says she found the experience challenging and will spend the next 48 hours catching up on sleep before worrying about what’s next.
“I’m very private normally so it’s been a challenge,” Forte said. “I had to put up a tent fort around my space and wear noise cancelling headphones so I could focus and do my best.”
She said she created a very personal collection of work inspired by what’s important to her. Her pieces included a self-portrait, a painting of her partner and interpretive paintings of her mother and grandmother in various rooms in her home. She used oil paintings on canvas of different sizes to embody the love she had for her family, according to Forte.
“I’m not trying to sell [anything],” Forte said. “All I can do is do my best to be earnest, do my best technically, and be honest. If someone says they like it or if they don’t it doesn’t matter because I did my best.”
According to one guest, Forte and the other artists had nothing to worry about because the exhibit was a hit.
“I heard someone talking about the place and I thought I’d come on down,” Chillian Thomas said. “I think it’s dope, I’d definitely check it out again.”
The next round of resident artists is scheduled to move in within the next week and a half making the next resident artist exhibition the second week of November.
The current exhibition will run until September 3. More details including dates and times will be posted on the Red Bull House of Art website.