By Yashowanto Ghosh, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy Yashowanto Ghosh
The academic year’s first art show at the Aquinas College Art & Music Center Gallery is already on. “GRETCHEN: Our Travels Sketched” opened on August 12, and it will continue until September 13.
This is a different kind of show.
The artist, Gretchen Minnhaar, lived and worked in Grand Rapids, and died just over a year ago. The pieces on show are, according to her artist’s statement, different from what she created in her studio. For years, Minnhaar traveled all over the world. During her travels, she made hundreds of quick sketches—“spontaneous 10 to 15 minute sketches,” she says in the artist’s statement—working with watercolors, and occasionally with ink, on paper. These are the pieces in the show.
In keeping with the spontaneous nature of the work, all but one of the sketches are not behind glass, or even in frames. Rather, they are mounted in such a way that they are reaching into the gallery’s space—reaching toward the viewer. I saw sketches dating from four decades—from the 1980s to the 2010s—and from five continents. The subjects are varied, with nature, people, architecture, and even the occasional wildlife, apparently whatever caught the artist’s eye. My dominant thought was this: Of the things Minnhaar sketched, how much still exists in real life, and how much only lives on in her work? The sketches are a record of a life spent walking through four dimensions.
Professor Dana Freeman, in charge of the gallery, said a lot of Minnhaar’s sketches in the show were sold during an invitation-only event. The money from the sales is going to the Gretchen Minnhaar Scholarship Fund for Women in Art or Science at Aquinas. Still, there were just under 100 pieces on the wall when I went on September 6. Another three dozen or so sketches are at a stand you can leaf through in the middle of the gallery.
Minnhaar’s show is still on up until Friday, September 13 and I would definitely recommend visiting it. Next up at the AMC Gallery is “The String Project” by alumna Chelsea Nix (’09) and her husband Mariano Cortez. Nix and Cortez won the Grand Prize at ArtPrize 2018 with this work. There will be an artist’s talk about “The String Project” in the Kretschmer Auditorium at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, September 17, and the show itself will run from September 21 to October 25.
Yashowanto Ghosh is a senior with a major in English with a writing emphasis and a minor in Japanese. Jasho is also an alumnus of Aquinas (B.A. German ’11, B.A. Communication ’17).