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On Saturday, February 8th, Popps Packing celebrated the closing of the two-man show, “In Other Places People Lived,” with an artist talk featuring the two contributors, Will Hutchinson and Nathan Tonning.
Nathan Tonning (left) took the lead, with Will Hutchinson connecting to the talk from out-of-state via Skype.
Hutchinson was beaming in via Skype from Montana, where the two first began to collaborate artistically, culminating in a non-profit artspace called the Frontier Space Gallery. The remaining vestige of the gallery is a mobile trailer (Montana license plate: FRNTI3R), which accompanied Tonning on his migration from Missoula, Mont. to Detroit for his residency at Popps Packing.
The crowd milling around Popps’ exhibition space prior to the talk.
This residency was a segue for Tonning into full-time Detroit residency, and a distance that allowed him to consider Montana, its aesthetic “frontier culture” coming to the forefront, and strongly evident in the work on display at Popps. This process of relocation also informed his recent output, with a body of work that addressed domestic objects and craft-based techniques, including lamps, a fireplace space heater, and fans converted into a mock speaker bank.
Tonning’s ‘speaker,’ constructed from fans and a cooler.
Hutchinson’s contributions to the show were largely photographic, an expression of his desire to carry his art through the demands of his seasonal job as a forest firefighter, which requires travel and other conditions inhibitive to his original drawing practice. One corner of the show was dominated by an example of his large-scale drawings, which was then mirrored in a photograph of a smoke column produced by a forest fire, as well as a film reel.
Photographic prints by Hutchinson.
The drawing (and detail) from Hutchinson’s multi-media setup, which juxtaposed varying renditions of a forest fire.
The aesthetic center of the exhibit was a collaborative installation by the two artists, staged around a space heater in the shape of a fireplace. Tonning’s examination of the omnipresent Montana motif of mountain ranges is evident in small, aluminum-cast mountains, and Hutchinson’s experience with wilderness communication is embodied by two homemade semaphore flags. The show is an interstate examination of frontier culture, and the quest for those elusive urban frontiers that may be right before our eyes.
The collaborative piece can be seen to the right of the laptop.
Coming soon at Popps Packing: “Zen and the Art of Garbage Hunting and the Protectors of the Refuse” by Mitchell Cope, which will open on Friday, February 28th from 7-10 p.m., and run through March 22nd.
Popps Packing: 12138 Saint Aubin, Hamtramck; www.poppspacking.org
Arts / Article