Archive for March, 2010

Mick Vranich 1946-2010

March 31, 2010

Mick Vranich was badly injured in an accident last month.  Everyone was pulling for him.  There’d been four or five benefits that brought out a great outpouring of love and support.

Now, with word of his passing, another great hole exists within the Detroit arts community.  It’s a void that will never be filled.  The rest of us will try our best to work hard and do our best.  Some of us, sometimes, will do so in his memory.

I’m going to improvise here (off the cuff).  These are some my impressions of Mick Vranich.  I never got to know him as well as I’d like to have.  Yet I was always glad to see him, to be in his presence. 

He was a humanist and an activist.  Some causes I know he cared about were veteran’s issues, Native American issues (especially the imprisonment of Leonard Peltier) and the fate of the Earth.

He was an excellent carpenter and worked on many houses.  My grandfather Herbert Greenia was also a carpenter who worked on houses all over Detroit.   I always thought Mick followed in the sort of work that he did.

Mick Vranich was one of those 1960’s Detroit figures who was always still very much on the scene.   They’re a little older than I am, so I sort of felt “right behind them.”  He was one of the few I got to know a bit.

There’s a tradition of performance poetry with music.  Some of the more recent practioners include Jayne Cortez and John Trudell.  Locally, M.L. Liebler, Ron Allen,  John Sinclair and Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts have all performed poetry backed by live music.  Mick was one of the best at doing this.

I’ve been playing his old Wordban’d recording CLOAK OF SKIN from 1992 and his recent recording with K-9, The Bottom of Time.  There are at least two other recordings from K-9.  I believe they’re called The Year of the Snake and Here in America.

I remember the K-9 performance at the Dally in the Alley in 2008.  I thought it was the highlight of the day, wonderful.

He’d also had his writings published, including his book, SAW HORSE.

I’ve long sang and performed poetry with my musical friends, the Space Band.   Mick asked us to be on the same bill with K-9 several times.  This was always great too, usually at benefits for one cause or another.  It was fun to play and to see K-9 play.  These were usually at the MIAMI, on Cass.

Then, since 1995, there have been a number of intriguing exhibits at the art gallery Alley Culture.  Mick helped run this space with his wife Sherry Hendrick.

These are some of the ways he was in and of the community, on the scene.  He worked hard and still kept up his creative work.  His loss is very sad, terrible news for many of us.  I offer my condolences to Sherry and to his friends and family. 

a tribute to Mick at METRO TIMES:

Some of his past projects:

From Detroit YES Forum:

Photos from the April 4 memorial event:

Objects: Found, created, arranged

March 20, 2010

This is collision of various artifacts and debris which I gathered for an exhibit in 2007.  There’s also a close-up of this photo below.

From left to right: first section…..a terra-cotta clay ball that I covered with designs (then had it fired, not glazed), part of a blown tire, a toy record player with a hand coming out of the cone and a gagged skeleton (“We do not want to hear your secrets!!!) second section…..a found “wound-up ring” of wire, then (down below) one of my wire sculptures (face in profile with hat), then (back above) a red clay sculpture that I made, a bell in the form of a lady (on a “pedestal”)  and a plastic and rubber “climbing man” toy that I got in Paris.  third section…..a spiral watch spring, my wire sculpture (an animal), a found heavy metal piece that looks like a face or mask, an upside-down goose head (with a peacock feather) and a little toy duck who’s trying to communicate with it.  There’s also a piece of blue glass.

This collection was one of many “windows into other worlds” which I’ve arranged.  I’d imagine what would happen when the gallery was closed and nobody was around.  Would the human and animal figure communicate?  The skeleton’s mouth is bound, but he could still use sign language or gestures.  What sort of music would the Victrola play?  Would anyone dance to it?  Would the hand which emerges from it snap its fingers to the beat?  Would the “bell lady” chime in?  Would the climber escape from his bag and walk the walls?  Would the goose head seize something to use as a body?  Such are the questions which artists ask of objects and of art.

It’s a sort of dialogue between the artists and nature, works of art/creativity and the other things which we have made.  The whole world can seem or better be more poetic, magical and romantic.  This dialogue is yet another key part of the creative process.  It can be distracting to have these “dialogues” with most of the “stuff” you see all day. Such is the way of the artist.

This display was originally part of a 4-person art exhibit that I organized at the Zeitgeist arts space here in Detroit:

Artists included Carlos Bruton (aka LOS), Gwen Joy, Karl Schneider and myself, Maugre.  You can click onto the Zeitgeist site here and scroll down.  We’re keeping our Zeitgeist Gallery and Theatre history site up, even though we’ve closed the building.

WINDOWS TO OTHER WORLDS (With Select Artifacts) March 10 to April 21, 2007  A related