Even my father, grizzled cynic that he is, has fond memories of the old Hudson’s department store and the seemingly otherworldly joy its Santaland display brought children every holiday season. Well, it seems he wasn’t the only one whose memory still stretches back to what is considered the Halcyon days of Detroit holidays.
Artist Andrew Krieger has similar memories of Santaland as well as the joy he felt when the Sears and JC Penney “Wish Books” arrived in the mail. He wants to share those shining memories with others. He’ll do so through art instead of “the way it was and should be” stories when he opens his consumerism-based show called J.C. Hudsears at the Public Pool in Hamtramck on November 17. It’ll run Saturdays through December 22.
Krieger, an artist and carpenter from right here in the Motor City, creates 2D and 3D art using wood and paint. He decided to tap into Detroit’s classic Christmas feeling with painted objects people can integrate into their daily lives. They range from cereal boxes to briefcases and from action figures to games, all of which are displayed to resemble the classic department store holiday advertising and experience.
His enthusiasm seems genuine and still filled a spark of childhood wonder.
“There was a magic in the way merchandise was displayed and sold in those places —especially around the holidays,” Krieger said. “I wondered if there was something in that that could apply to art. I’d like to make paintings as essential to everyone as the items you’d see at Sears or Hudsons. So they become more than just for museums or galleries or your wall at home. If I show art is essential and not superfluous to us as a society, I get to survive as an artist, maybe even thrive.”
Besides just getting lost in nostalgia the artist hopes to explore the marketing techniques used by the stores … right down to how it was set up.
To this end Krieger has set up his solo art show’s display to resemble the monolithic store of old. This will allow … and even encourage … patrons to stop, sit down, breathe in, experience and especially enjoy the display. Of course if they choose to purchase a piece of art, who is Krieger to argue. Custom works are even available. After all, what Detroiter of a certain age … or any age … wouldn’t love a way to marinate in golden memories.
His work has been shown at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Center Galleries at the College for Creative Studies and the Detroit Artists Market. He has had solo shows at Paint Creek Center for the Arts, Popps Packing and The Bohemian National Home.
Remember the show kicks off on Nov. 17 with a special grand opening event featuring food provided by Traffic Jam and Snug restaurant and live a cappella music by the all-girl group the Barrettes. The special opening is from 7-11 p.m.
In case you don’t know, the Public Pool is an art cooperative designed to create and support a wide range of contemporary art experiences. Founding members include writer Steve Hughes and his wife; artist Anne Harrington-Hughes; author and Team Detroit creative director Toby Barlow; advertising-industry creatives Mary Trybus and Jim Boyle, who is also a former Detroit Institute of Arts executive; artist/curator Tim Hailey, who’s also the former co-director of New York City non-profit gallery HEREart, writer, musician Walter Wasacz, and musician Jennifer Paull.
The Public Pool is located at 3309 Caniff in Hamtramck. It is open Saturdays from 1-6 p.m. www.apublicpool.com.