Tag Archives: journalist

Metro Detroit artists bring birds to life through paintings

Stephanie Sokol for The Oakland Press

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Photo courtesy of Helena Kuttner-Giasson

For painter Helena Kuttner-Giasson, art is a way to communicate in more ways than one. When she couldn’t find the words, her art spoke for her, and she took inspiration from her surroundings.

“Art is my first language,” says Kuttner-Giasson, of Clinton Township. “I always enjoyed doodling and drawing from the time I was able to hold a crayon. When I was 4 years old, my immediate family immigrated to America from Europe, leaving behind what is now the Czech Republic. As I struggled to learn English, I discovered that drawing was a way to bridge the language and culture gap.”

Kuttner-Giasson is one of three artists with paintings in Level One Bank’s latest exhibit, “Birds: An Avian Adventure,” going on through Feb. 6.

While she paints landscapes and has always painted birds, she took a more intuitive and spontaneous approach to these paintings after watching birds in her yard.

“This Autumn in particular, my yard was filled with a myriad of sparrows, woodpeckers, buntings, cardinals — it became an airport for these world travelers as they prepared to depart to warmer climates,” Kuttner-Giasson says.

“Different birds represent different moments and ideas to each of us, so it was a perfect opportunity to paint a myriad of birds. I spent quite a bit of time observing how so many species could group together and watch out for each other with warning calls, sharing berries and seeds from the garden and the feeders. After many days of observation, it became rather impossible not to humanize their interactions with each other.”

Rather than compose her works as scientific observations, she used what she observed, and just began to paint.

“Nature is our common experience, the sum of many small differences,” Kuttner-Giasson says. “To me, birds symbolize how all of us with our differences across the world can come together and celebrate the community of being. During a season where there is very little color in the land and sky, I think having a bird-themed show is a wonderful way to warm our spirits while we await the arrival of spring.”

The group exhibit highlights aviary works of three metro-detroit artists, in the gallery area of Level One, called the Community Art Gallery, which takes up the entire front of the bank, and has been hosting art exhibits for about 10 years.

Exhibit host Mark McDaniel Burton has been curating shows at the gallery for about a year and a half and says it’s a nice space to highlight a large amount of work.

“The gallery is quite big, so each artist has their own section,” he says.

“For one thing, people should come to the show to escape the cold weather. And people don’t normally think of a bank having a gallery. It’s a unique space, and a chance to see some fantastic local artists.”

The bird theme fell into place when Burton was putting the show together. He reached out to artists, and Marilyn Bicsak Thomas sent her realistic, almost photographic paintings of birds. Kuttner-Giasson also sent her new loose, sketchy water-color pieces, which happened to show birds as well. And Louis Wildfong had a pen-and-ink series of fantastical, humorous birds, complementing the others.

“It brings a really diverse look in a single subject, instead of doing all photographs or hyper realistic, you have these different takes on the same object — birds,” Burton says. “You get three different views from three different artists.”

• Birds: An Avian Adventure exhibition is up through Feb. 6 at Level One Bank, 22635 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. The gallery is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday.

DSO returns to Meadow Brook, with Joshua Bell

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

Joshua Bell will perform with the DSO at Meadow Brook Music Festival on Thursday, July 24. Photo/Wikimedia
Joshua Bell will perform with the DSO at Meadow Brook Music Festival on Thursday, July 24. Photo/Wikimedia

After a four year hiatus from performing at Meadow Brook, the DSO returns to the venue this Thursday for a concert with violinist Joshua Bell.

The DSO last performed at Meadow Brook as a full orchestra in 2010. Since then they have presented a couple of other programs like Yo-Yo Ma’s Goat Rodeo, in partnership with the venue, according to Gabrielle Poshlado of the DSO.

“My favorite part of performing at Meadowbrook is that it’s a less formal atmosphere and a great place for families to come to concerts. When they were young, my own children heard a lot of classical music and were introduced to live performances by coming to Meadowbrook. In the outdoor setting, families can be together, and the kids can move around and be a little more fidgety. They can even go to sleep – that’s ok! They’re there and they’re experiencing the orchestra and great music,” Bass player Larry Hutchinson said.

Of course, no outdoor venue can match the great acoustics of our wonderful Orchestra Hall, but Meadow Brook is a natural amphitheater and has great acoustics for an outdoor venue. We love playing there and the orchestra is very excited to be performing there again.”

Michael Stern, who serves as Kansas City Symphony Music Director, will conductor the hour and 27-minute performance. The program includes works by Glinka, Ravel, Stravinsky, Kodaly and Bruch, bringing a variety of classical pieces to the stage.

Known as the “poet of the violin,” Bell, a Bloomington, Indiana native, is one of the world’s most celebrated violinists due to his tone, charisma and virtuosity. He began his musical career at age 4, when he received his first violin. Since then, he has earned awards for his performances, and has more than 40 CDs recorded under Sony Classical.

“We’ve worked with Joshua Bell several times before and the pieces he’s playing are well known to all of us,” Bass player Larry Hutchinson said. “The purpose of the rehearsal, like it is when we work with all great soloists, is to adapt our accompaniment to his interpretation of the music. When all know their jobs, conductor, orchestra and soloist, then it all comes together very quickly. It will be a wonderful performance.”

Tickets to Detroit Symphony Orchestra featuring Joshua Bell go on sale on at 10 a.m. May 10 and are available online at dso.org and palacenet.com, by phone at 313.576.5111 or at the Max M. Fisher Box Office at 3711 Woodward Ave. in Detroit or The Palace Ticket Store and all Ticketmaster locations. Tickets may be also charged by phone to American Express, Discover, Visa and MasterCard by calling 800.745.3000. Lawn seats are $15 and Pavilion seats begin at $25. A limited number of lawn 4-packs will be available for $44.