Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 19, 2013

Beer inspires art show in Bellaire

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — What started out as a single art work to celebrate the anniversary of a local brewing company fermented into an idea for an entire art show revolving around beer.

"Beer Inspired Art" opens April 20 at the Parkside Arts Council's Members Gallery in Bellaire, across from the Short's Brewing Company pub. The all-media show features everything from jewelry made out of beer bottle caps to a fish sculpture with beer can-tab scales and bottle-opener tail.

The show stems from a mixed media work Central Lake artist Mary Ellen Murphy and Bellaire artist Jill Robinson created for the 2012 anniversary of the brewing company, owned by Joe Short.

"He asked us to do the evolution of hops, so we made this really awesome piece," said Murphy, show coordinator and a Parkside Arts Council board member. "I'm a stained glass artist, among other things, so I made the hops out of stained glass and copper and we cut beer bottles and used metal and driftwood."

The resulting piece, still on display at Short's, was so much fun that this year the Arts Council decided to create a whole show around beer-inspired art. Not coincidentally its run will coincide with the brewing company's ninth anniversary party on April 27.

"They have a beer party, bands," said Murphy, of the one-day anniversary celebration during which 43 beers and a special menu will be on tap. "Last year the line for beer was two blocks long."

Central Lake photographer Tom Brown experimented with his favorite Short's beer and a technique he saw online to come up with his entry. The action shot shows a hand — his — holding a bottle of Short's best selling India Pale Ale, Huma Lupa Licious, plunging into crystal-clear water.

"What I did is I filled a fish tank half-full of water and I had my lights and camera set up," said Brown, owner of Northern Exposures Photography. "I had my finger on the release button and with one hand I pushed the button and with the other I plunged my hand (with the bottle) down in the water and pushed it forward to give it some motion. It took quite a few tries because it had to happen at the same time."

Bellaire artist Ken Thomas' acrylic-on-wood panel painting "Blowing Jackson Pollock" combines Thomas' usual representational style with nonrepresentational art à la famous abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock. The 12-by-80-inch work was created on a recycled hollow-core door.

"It's a celebration of energy, enthusiasm and reckless abandon," Thomas said in an animated introductory video of the piece, which features a feminine face blowing foam from a glass of beer into the air, forming a riot of Pollock-influenced lines and colors.

"I thought it was a fun idea. There's a lot of possibilities, a lot of ways to go," said Thomas, who also is represented at the Northern Michigan Artist Market in Petoskey. "As an artist I try not to take myself too seriously."

Murphy said the show attracted artists from as far away as Flint. Though not juried, it will offer prizes — donated by beer companies — in lighthearted categories.

"Beer Inspired Art" runs through May 27. An official opening reception will take place on Thursday, April 25, beginning at 6 p.m. The Parkside Arts Council is located at 202 N. Bridge Street in downtown Bellaire.

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