The Rapidian

Ever expanding Have Company to add gallery wall to giftshop

The local retailer on South Division is collaborating with area builder and art collector Michael DeMaagd Rodriguez to curate a gallery style wall in the popular Division Avenue boutique.
Marlee Grace, shop owner

Marlee Grace, shop owner /Eric Tank

Each Spot, Speck and Thread

The inaugural show, titled "Each Spot, Speck and Thread" opens Friday, November 7 at 6 p.m. It coincides with the Free Radical event sponsored by Avenue for the Arts. The show runs through November 29 with an artist reception on November 21 from 6-9 p.m.

Michael DeMaagd Rodriguez, curator

Michael DeMaagd Rodriguez, curator /Eric Tank

Brenda Beerhorst with a piece from her new collection

Brenda Beerhorst with a piece from her new collection /Eric Tank

The South Division Avenue corridor boutique shop and maker residency is expanding programming with its inaugural gallery space featuring the work of Brenda Beerhorst and Hillery Sproatt. 

Local builder and art collector Michael DeMaagd Rodriguez has taken the helm as curator. A fan of Have Company and friend to proprietor Marlee Grace, both Rodriguez and Grace have collaborated in the past in the building of furnishings in the shop. 

Rodriguez says that he approached Grace during ArtPrize where Have Company was exhibiting Quilt Mountain, a mixed media installation of textile art. He was impressed with how the space accommodated a collection of work. 

An avid collector of local artwork and aspiring gallerist, Rodriguez has envisioned his own gallery. But due to full time work and lack of capital resources, he has had to think inventively. 

"I've always imagined the possibility at least of running a gallery but it's just not realistic for me right now," says Rodriguez, who's day job is working for Grand River Builders

Coincidentally, Grace, while busy running a shop full time and organizing artist residencies was, for lack of time, unable to expand operations. It is at this juncture where the two have teamed, both offering their assets to complement one another.

"I see my work as a curator as being very similar to my work as a collector. At home I am sort of curating groups of work together between groups of various artists," says Rodriguez.

Rodriguez articulates his insight about what he hopes to accomplish for the gallery space. 

"There is a culture at Have Company and a culture in that neighborhood. So we really want to capture the synergy of the shop and the neighborhood. So we're going to hopefully use the gallery space to feature the work of artist residents at Have Company, and feature the work of other Heartside neighborhood-based artists. And my hope is to get people to see connections that they didn't see previously between the work of different artists. We're going to do a lot of pairings. So rather than solo exhibits, bring in the work of two or more artists side by side," says Rodriguez. "What happens when you exhibit the work of a sculptor and painter together? Or what happens when you have the work of an emerging artist alongside an established artist? Or an MFA graduate alongside a self taught visionary artist? These things are what we're interested in exploring."

With an emphasis on education and art awareness, Rodriguez hopes to not only show work that inspires but also to provide the background information that can take viewers into the mind and process of each artist. It is his opinion that this method of presentation, akin to a museum style, will encourage the viewer to invest both financially and relationally with the artwork and ultimately the artist. He hopes to create a reciprocity between artist and collector, by employing the physicality of a space designed to function as that triangular intersection. 

"Collectors are part of an art ecosystem. And that means the relationship continues beyond a single transaction of one person creating a piece of art and another person acquiring it. The hope is that the collector and the maker will be inspired by one another. That they'll want to continue that relationship. And learn about in the case of the artist, learn about what that collector is interested in, their pieces they're collecting, the new meaning that their work has in that collection; and in the case of the collector they will want to follow that artist's work, find out what their influences are, where they came from and follow their work over years and watch it progress," says Rodriguez.

The inaugural show, titled "Each Spot, Speck and Thread" opens Friday, November 7 at 6 p.m. It coincides with the Free Radical event sponsored by Avenue for the Arts. The show runs through November 29 with an artist reception on November 21 from 6-9 p.m.

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