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Red Bull House of Art

The crowd at the first opening

1551 Winder
Detroit MI 48207

The international energy drink giant famous for sponsoring extreme sporting events has been sponsoring an art gallery in Detroit since 2012. The opening receptions, each usually held on a Friday, are loud and crowded, with plenty of Red Bull and alcohol flowing freely (they do check IDs at the door).

For a better opportunity to actually appreciate the artwork, go during the gallery hours on Saturdays, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Photo at right by Sal Rodriguez.

The first ten exhibits were group shows in which six to eight artists handpicked by Matt Eaton presented the artwork they have created during the previous three or four months they've worked in the studios that are in the same building as the gallery.

There have been a few exceptions, such as Round 2's Bryan Baker, who thought it was impractical to move his heavy letterpress equipment into the House for just a few months. But Matt wanted Bryan in Red Bull, so Matt made it happen, and waived the studio residency requirement.

In addition to a free studio for the residency period, selected artists also get free art supplies and are charged 0% commission on sales. It is an excellent opportunity for artists in their twenties.

A common misconception among artists is that you fill out an application to be considered for a residency. That has never been the case, at least not so far. If Matt Eaton likes your portfolio enough and he hasn't overbooked the next cycle, then you're in.

In 2015, the nature of the program changed. Instead of "rounds" or "cycles" of local artists, the House is now bringing artists from around the country for "residencies." That is important, but it has made the program of much less interest as far as this website is concerned.

Upcoming exhibitions

In the middle of 2018, the Red Bull House of Art was re-designated Red Bull Arts Detroit.

Past exhibitions

I admit that for most of 2017, I wasn't keeping track of Red Bull, so there certainly are gaps in this listing.

Residency 5? Or Residency 6?

The artists this time around are Lucia Hierro from New York, Joiri Minaya and Gina Goico, all Dominicans. Early 2018.

Residency 4? Or is it Residency 5?

Opened November 17, 2017, I think it ran to February 2018, I'm not sure.

New Wave

Something about crafts. Opened September 22, 2017, probably closed early November 2017.

Residency 3

The three artists for Residency 3 are: Beau Stanton, Coby Kennedy and Lala Abaddon. Opened November 11, 2016, not sure how long it went to.

Gabriel Viñas with some of his sculptures

Re:Semblance

Another "locally curated exhibit," this exhibit of mostly sculpture, curated by Craig Paul Nowak (who went through the program's Round 3), features some international artists, like Ledelle Moe and Rosa Verloop.

But the highlight of the exhibit is Michigan artist Gabriel Viñas, whose vivid sculptures of prehistoric hominids give the impression that some of these distant ancestors of ours actually posed for him.

The exhibit also includes artwork by Daru Ami, Randy Cano, Danny O'Connor, Brian Donnelly, Freya Jobbins, Kip Omolade, Phillip Simpson and Christina A. West. There are a few paintings, and Craig has done some sculpture, but his rôle in this exhibit is strictly that of curator only.

It looks like this is the pattern now: alternate residencies of artists from across the country with exhibits "locally curated" by artists who went through the program's rounds or cycles. This one opened September 3, 2016 and closed October 8, 2016.

Residency 2

Ian Kuali'i, Drew Merritt and Michael Reeder. Opened July 22, 2016, I think it ran to late August.

15 Steps: Perspectives in Drawing

This was billed as a "locally curated exhibit," with the curator being Tylonn Sawyer, who went through the program's Cycle 4. The artists include Missy Ablin, Christopher Batten (from Cycle 5), Tyanna Buie, Dan DeMaggio, M. Saffell Gardner, Sydney G. James (from Cycle 6), Guno Park, Leto Rainkine, Rashaun Rucker (from Cycle 8), Bailey Scieszka, Eric Telfort and Jennifer Wroblewski. It ran from June 11, 2016, to July 9, 2016.

Residency 1

To build anticipation for 2016, the Red Bull staff dropped a lot of hints in 2015 about more radical changes to the program. These hints suggested more focused mentorship for the artists and more high-profile events for the public.

Instead of six to eight local artists, there will be groups of three, maybe four, artists from all over the country, and presumably a more formalized, committee-driven process. Most likely each new group will consist of two white artists, one black artist, and no Latino artists at all. The artists will not just work in the studios provided by Red Bull, they will also live in apartments in the same building or nearby.

The Residency 1 artists were Katy Ann Gilmore from Los Angeles, Scott Vincent Campbell from New York and Carl Rauschenbach from Brooklyn. The opening reception was on April 29, 2016, and the show presumably ran to May or June.

Friends of Friends

Friends of Friends, in which some of the Red Bull "alumni" invite an artist to exhibit at the House. Opened March 5, 2016, I think it ran to April 3, 2016.

Cycle 11

Cycle 11 opened on October 16, 2015. Those familiar with the gallery must have noticed several changes to the building, including an installation by Carl Schmidt, mirrors for the stairs going down to the gallery space, and four new walls, one of which gave William Singer and Mary Williams additional space they would not have had in the gallery's original configuration.

Freddy Diaz is the third Latino artist to go through the program. But Red Bull PR is more interested in emphasizing that Freddy had a brush with the law as a kid before he turned legit and did murals with permission (graffiti fans don't respect a graffiti artist without a criminal record). Freddy's style was specifically shaped by graffiti on trains, and he pays homage to train graffiti with somewhat sculptural depictions of train cars tagged with various graffiti. Having appeared in a show at Inner State Gallery back in May certainly helped Freddy get selected for Red Bull, but probably it was his background in graffiti that proved decisive.

When an idiotic mural by the Hygienic Dress League for Our Vodka Detroit was vandalized several months ago, the owners of the distillery wisely decided to have someone else paint a new mural. Ndubisi Okoye was chosen to paint that new mural. Ndubisi's mural is still up and may very well be permanent at Our Vodka. For his Red Bull selection, Ndubisi included a small replica of the mural, which sold on opening night.

Fatima Sow came highly recommended by the late Gilda Snowden, to whose early career Fatima's current career bears some similarities, particularly in regards to encaustics. Miles Rene Vankeersblick paints evocative urban landscapes at night. Also in the show: Laura Finlay, Paul Johnson, Ash Nowak and Tony Rave.

According to "Jim", the little coolers stocked with Red Bull of various flavors were locked on opening night. Apparently some jackass abused Red Bull's generosity by clearing out an entire cooler.

I'm not sure when exactly Cycle 11 closed, if it was in January or February 2016.

The "alumni" show

Featuring one piece each from almost every artist who had gone through the program from "Round 1" to Cycle 10, this exhibit cut the Cycle 10 exhibit short and ran from May 21, 2015 to Labor Day 2015. Rather than list all the artists in this exhibit, it would probably be easier to list the Red Bull artists who were not in the exhibit, though that might come across the wrong way.

In any case, it was an embarrassment of riches, with everything blurring together and nothing standing out. The show, consisting of a few dozen pieces, lacked the cohesion that is to be found even when exhibiting six to eight artists working in different styles on different themes.

Cycle 10

Jimbo Braddock with some of his paintings

James "Jimbo" Braddock impressed with his paintings of birds, some done in a graffiti style and others closer to the Audubon style. Jimbo included macaws, puffins, sparrows, and other birds.

Photo at right by Alonso del Arte.

Kelly Guillory updated the classic pin-up girls in a modern recontextualization with social media. Kelly's connection to the Red Bull House of Art goes back to Round 2, as in 2013 she did a portrait of Round 2 artist Michelle Tanguay.

The Cycle 10 exhibit, which opened on April 24, 2015 and was cut short for the "alumni" show, also included Joe Ferry, Brent Forrest, Dominika Claudia and Parisa Ghaderi.

Cycle 9

There are many talented artists working as gallery assistants in Detroit's art galleries, and Karianne Hollowell is one them. At the time Cycle 9 opened (on November 14, 2014), she was working at Re:View Contemporary. Along with Nick Pizana, Karianne represented Wayne State University. Also in the show: Brach Goodman, Shaina Kasztelan, Colin Tury and Dino Valdez.

Cycle 8

Cycle 8, which opened on August 8, 2014, showed a connection to Whitdel Arts as two of the artists, Austin Brady and Tiff Massey, have exhibited there. But the real headliner of the show was Rashaun Rucker, a Detroit Free Press photographer whose inclusion in the show prompted that paper to cover the Red Bull House of Art for the first time ever. Also in the show: Chad Davis, Tony Lee, Paolo Pedini.

Cycle 7

For Cycle 7, which opened on April 11, 2014, the number of artists in each cycle was reduced from eight to six. This change was to allow artists from previous rounds or cycles to return to the Red Bull studios to work on whatever projects they want to, and reportedly some artists had indeed already taken advantage of that opportunity in early 2014.

One of the six artists in Cycle 7 was Katie Craig, who had already gained fame for her big Detroit murals and is featured in the book Canvas Detroit. Katie translated her boldly colored murals into smaller pieces for the art gallery. Paula Zammit is the second Corktown Studios studio holder chosen for the House. Also in the show: Zak Meers, Nick Jaskey, Lamar Landers and Bethany Shorb.

Cycle 6

Painting portraits of other artists was nothing new for Sydney James, who in addition to self portraits and portraits of friends and relatives, also did a portrait of fellow Red Bull artist Dessislava Terzieva. The process of selection was much smoother for Sydney and Dessislava than it was for James Oscar Lee (also known as J. Oscar), whose residency was postponed a couple of times; November 15, 2013 for Cycle 6 was finally the charm for him. Also in the show: Michael Burdick, Paula Schubatis, Joshua Gaudette, Tage Lee and Tadd Mullinix.

Chris Batten and Carolyn Webber with the former's painting of the latter

Cycle 5

One of Carolyn Weber's paintings graced the cover of the Metro Times for that week of August 9, 2013, for which that paper covered the House for the first time. The Metro Times disclosed that Desiree Kelly, who imagined Abraham Lincoln in a contemporary context, is one of their staffers.

Photo at left by Alonso del Arte.

Christopher Batten got along very well with his fellow residents, using Carolyn Weber and Camille LaMontagne as models for his paintings, in which he imagined what Detroit might look like long into the future.

Also in the show: Jesse Kassel, Steven McShane, Elysia Vandenbussche and Brian Lacey.

William Harris and Marie Pinto

Cycle 4

At the April 12, 2013 opening, William Harris impressed with his paintings simultaneously suffused with realism and surrealism. Lisa Poszywak had just a month prior celebrated her first anniversary as artistic director at Corktown Studios when she went through the Red Bull program. Tylonn Sawyer went on to star in a Red Bull commercial that aired during the Grammys in 2014. Also in the show: Kristen Adamczyk, Ellen Rutt, Lindy Shewbridge, Greg Siemasz and Kevin Skinner.

Photo at right by Alonso del Arte.

An important but forgotten development between Cycle 4 and Cycle 5 was a series of Saturday workshops which were at first led by Red Bull artists from prior rounds: first, Craig Paul Nowak demonstrated the drip painting technique which he himself uses for his fantastically detailed paintings; then Michelle Tanguay demonstrated how to stretch a canvas; and then Edward John Charles Foster demonstrated some tricks with color. After that there were two or three other workshops. There were also a few workshops in 2014, with Lindy Shewbridge doing one around Valentine's Day of that year.

Two attendees of the workshops are worth highlighting: Jesse Kassel and Brent Forrest, who both attended Edward's color theory workshop. Jesse was already occupying a studio in preparation for Cycle 5, while Brent became a Red Bull artist much later, for Cycle 10.

Round 3

First, a little historical note. People think that the groups of Red Bull artists have always been called "cycles." This is not the case. Only for the second and third group they were called "rounds." It was not easy for some people to make the switch to the new terminology, and the old terminology still persists to this day. We can only guess at the reason for the change, that maybe Red Bull marketing thought "cycle" sounds cooler, or that maybe it's a subtle reminder of Red Bull's sponsorship of extreme biking events.

It couldn't be helped that the Round 3 opening took place on December 14, 2012, the same day as the worst school shooting in U. S. history to date (this could be another explanation for changing the terminology from "rounds" to "cycles"). Artist Dan Armand said he's much more concerned about America "starting wars all over the world," and his artwork reflects his concern with the rôle corporations play in the military-industrial complex.

But Dan was overshadowed by Edward John Charles Foster, who painted a woman's vagina, leading to the only instance in Red Bull House of Art history in which artwork had to censored with semi-opaque overlays. "I also painted her face!" Edward complained. Female Red Bull artists like Kela Robinson and Ashley Williams really liked Edward's paintings, other female artists were unimpressed but neutral in their reactions, and women in general were disgusted. Edward's paintings would have come across much differently if they had been painted by a female artist.

The most prestigious piece in the show was Craig Paul Nowak's homage to Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World, which he later entered in ArtPrize. This painting, like some of Craig's previous paintings, consists of many smaller canvases, but is different in that the canvases are of different sizes and the overall shape is not rectangular.

Also in Round 3 were Vaughn Taormina, Antoine McDowell and Rob DiMaria.

Round 2

Michelle Tanguay with her painting

The influence of Gilda Snowden on the Red Bull House of Art was felt as early as Round 2, which opened on August 24, 2012. A universally admired professor at the College for Creative Studies (CCS), Prof. Snowden's students could always count on her support at their openings, and in Round 2 that meant Michelle Tanguay and Delvona Johnson, who included Snowden's portrait in her series Faces of Detroit.

Photo at right by Alonso del Arte.

In addition to CCS students and alumni, Red Bull has sometimes included younger CCS faculty, like letterpress artist Bryan Baker. For Red Bull, Bryan explored patterns in red dice. Also in the show: Corey Birdwell, James Collins, Ray Domzalski, Kobie Soliman and Allison Vince.

"Round 1"

The appelation "Round 1" is a purely historical imposition. The House of Art idea was a gamble, one that the Red Bull company backed with a major advertising blitzkrieg in the week leading up to the first opening on May 24, 2012. It paid off: the large gallery room in the basement quickly filled up with people, almost to capacity, and the domestic beers at the open bar ran out in the first hour.

Despite the rave atmosphere, sales happened, especially with Franklin Jonas's stars. Mark Sarmel's manga- and anime-inspired work and Jeff Risk's iconism also did well, and the work Peter DeAngelos, Matt Gordon, Keri Mortimer and Ben Saginaw as well.

External links

News

Only one news outlet has covered every single opening of the Red Bull House of Art since the beginning, from "Round 1" to Cycle 10 and the "Alumni" show, and that's Examiner.com. Rather than list all those articles, we will just provide a link to the Examiner.com Red Bull House of Art topic page. At the Metro Times, they can honestly say they've spilled a lot of ink on this topic, covering just Cycle 5 and Cycle 8, because Examiner.com is Web-only. The Detroit Free Press has only covered Cycle 8.

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