PHOTOGRAPHER TERRY JOHNSTON
Design types are renown for being insanely passionate and, at times, a bit obstinate. Traits that proved to be quite handy one recent Thursday evening – when despite a paralyzing snowstorm – the creative community came out in full force to witness the launch of a major international design exhibition at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.
Graphic Design: Now in Production, sponsored by Kantorwassink and Mitch Ranger Photography, explores the art of graphic design and visual media. Curated by two institutions, the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Grand Rapids is in elite company for this exhibit, which has seen only limited engagements in Minneapolis, New York and Los Angeles until now.
“This is something really special outside the tradition of GRAM’s traditional comfort zone,” Dana Friis-Hansen, CEO of the GRAM said. “But it is ideal for this town.”
Wendy Wassink validated his sentiments, “We have been enthused about this since it’s opening at the Walker. When Dana mentioned the possibility of this coming to Grand Rapids, we literally jumped at the prospect of being a part of it.”
Giddy with anticipation, the evening kicked off early before museum doors opened with a rousing cocktail pre-party at the Lumber Baron in the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel hosted by Kantorwassink. Friends, patrons, clients and special guests mingled with co-curator, Andrew Blauvelt, with cocktails by the fire.
What followed was an exclusive sneak preview for sponsors, members and special guests. A dizzying array of work produced since 2000, guests explore the worlds of design-driven magazines, newspapers, books and posters; the entrepreneurial spirit of designer-produced goods; the renaissance in digital typeface design; the storytelling potential of film and television titling sequences; and the transformation of raw data into compelling information narratives.
This massive exhibition marks the first collaborative exhibition presentation between GRAM and Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University. Not surprisingly, the exhibition with seven separate themes is too big to put in either space. Visitors shuttle between the two buildings to take in the show.
“I’m not sure which was more impressive, the show itself or the sheer number of people who came out to see it. The atmosphere was electric,” Dave Kantor, of Kantorwassink, remarked of the evening. He continued, “The show is very inspiring. It’s not going to be just compelling for people in the design industry – It’s just plain engaging and really fun to experience.” He went on to say that he planned to come back and experience it again with his children.
The evening culminated with doors opening to the public at 9:30pm for The After Party at the GRAM. Those just heading out for the night and those still on their feet from the beginning explored the galleries late into the night with live music by the Boogiman & Mr. Fables.
Visit Graphic Design: Now in Production at the GRAM and The Fed at Kendall through April 21, 2013.
The largest of the design professions, graphic design is the art of visual communication that gives shape to the thousands of messages we encounter each day — from the printed page to the computer screen and beyond. Graphic designers use color, typography, images, symbols, and systems to make the surfaces around us come alive with meaning.