(SCENE) Metrospace re-opened to the public last Friday evening with a kick-off reception for its debut show under MSU/AAHD management entitled Place in Proximity. I attended. Given all my yammering on the topic, I felt that it was only right that I go and see it for myself.
I don’t often go to openings unless I’m working them, but I wanted to be there for this one. It was 6:00-8:00 PM and I was there for a little more than an hour (roughly 6:10-7:20). I give the time/duration, because I thought it odd that I saw no one I recognized from City staff, City Council, and/or the press. But I guess that’s understandable. As I reiterated in my remarks before City Council last week, the City wanted to get rid of the space (i.e., “get out of the curating business”) and didn’t much consider the divestiture too important. (In my remarks, I voiced various concerns detailed on this blog before the opening, particularly regarding submission fees and charged “special programming.”) The so-called partnership between COEL and MSU is one in which the City pays and the university plays. After all, not many landlords attend their tenants’ housewarming parties.
[It’s worth emphasizing, again, that my core frustration is with the City. COEL offered this — total control over a rent- and utility-free space — to MSU on a silver platter.]
I would’ve written about the opening sooner but the last week was tiresome. Besides, I was rather curious what else would be written about it first. However, I was surprised to see that no non-MSU entity covered the event. Today a local Fox affiliate ran a story, but it was just a re-post from MSU Today, an online publication. The only other news outlet to cover it was MSU’s State News. (If you look carefully, I believe you can see one of my ears in a photo. Cool.) Nothing else.
Some thoughts on the actual substance at hand, including credit where credit is due:
• The space is much improved. I never thought one would describe (SCENE) as beautiful, but it arguably is now. There’s a nice new floor and the walls are freshly painted. It appeared as if a couple of the standalone walls were movable depending on the show, which could help change things up spatially with each visit. The window graphics are particularly nice. No more paper flyers. As I wrote and stated many times before, I had little doubt that AAHD would run a fine visual art space. (It’s just that the venue was previously more than that.)
• Given the layout for Place in Proximity, if other shows are similar in floor design, I don’t quite see how a performance before an audience of more than ~20 would be feasible. Would such special programming only occur on weeks between shows?
• The AAHD Chair included in his public remarks bits about community engagement and year-round accessibility.
• The show itself was pretty good. Interesting work from a variety of regional artists.
• Simply as an observer with no other context of the politicking up to this point, it was a pleasurable experience.
I consider this post, like last week’s talk before Council, to be the last gasp of my regular “coverage” of this, at least until summer 2016 (when the space should, as I understand it, remain fully operational). I’ll of course be keeping up on new shows, developments, and special programming. It’s sad to see this whole mess go quietly into the night, but so it is. In City politics its spirit lives on through various talking points…