The latest exhibition at River’s Edge Gallery is all about bringing women artists together.
“Free Range Women Artists,” the Wyandotte gallery’s current show, features work from artists Amanda N. Moyer, Margaret Parker, K.A. Letts, Barbara Carson, Carol Morris, Loisann Arnold and Brenda Oelbaum.
All the exhibiting artists are board members of Michigan Women’s Caucus for Art, one of the most active chapters of the National Women’s Caucus for Art, headquartered in Washington, D.C.
The show, which the gallery dubs as “a provocative and eclectic exhibition of the work of Michigan women artists,” runs through Sept. 28.
From fiber installation, mosaic and political/conceptual art to assemblage, collage and painting, the work reflects the intelligence, talent and political engagement of southeast Michigan women artists.
“We have some artists who are hard-line activists whose art probably will never end up in someone’s hall or above their fireplace,” Oelbaum said. “And then there’s artists who do wonderful playful things full of whimsy.
“Whether it’s beautiful and visual or political and controversial, you can see it all in one show.”
All the featured artists have been in national shows as well, according to gallery owner Patt Slack. “These artists have gained momentum in recent years,” she said. “They have all helped put Detroit on the artistic map.”
Oelbaum, whose most recent project “The Venus of Willendorf” uses old diet books to make statements about body image and dieting, is known for championing women’s issues with her art.
“For years women have remained less than even in museums,” she said. “I think that we’re still fighting for the same things — more voice, more wall space, more value for the work we sell.
“There is power in numbers, and taking action, stepping up onto the board and getting involved gives everyone more options.”
And these women artists encompass a range of diversity, she added.
“There are women who have picked up painting post-divorce or in retirement, and they want to show their art as much as the women that have gone to college and gotten degrees in art and spent years showing their work,” she said.
“It’s all about growing in and around the art, and showing with people who may have more experience than you.”
Slack has shown great support for caucus members, Olebaum added, and River’s Edge artist-in-residence Patricia Izzo has a natural ability to bring people together.
“I’ve never met anyone who can draw more people in than her,” Oelbum said. “She’s fantastic.”
She hopes that the current show will lead to others featuring women artists from many of the Downriver arts groups.
“By working together we’re creating a powerful community,” she said. “We have so many members now in the Downriver area and want them to get involved and bring us all together.
“I think by seeing what we’re doing here, it’s motivational for them to join us. We want to support all of these organizations but it’s hard when you have all these disparate groups. Doing things like this, we can get out there and let people know we exist.”
River’s Edge Gallery is located at 3024 Biddle Ave., in Wyandotte. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.