Muskegon Museum of Art offers a feast for the eyes, food for the mind in multiple exhibits


By Cynthia Price

The Muskegon Museum of Art has built a reputation, not only for displaying to the public “paintings of the best kind” – the mandate that Charles Hackley gave when he set up the trust fund which has in part enabled the museum’s acquisitions ­– but for putting on exhibitions that make people think.

As Examiner columnist Rich Nelson mentioned last week, the “Sons: Seeing The Modern African American Male” portraiture on display is one example. The Sons project set out to make beautiful photographic portraits in black and white, and then in color, of a variety of Muskegon’s Black favorite sons to “explore how the Black American male perceives himself and how he is perceived by others.” The goal is ambitious, and to augment it, MMA included a discussion of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, this week, and an upcoming Open?Mic Night hosted by poet Kaizen Kabir AKA Kumasi Mack Feb. 28. This coming Monday, Jan. 21, there will be a Free Community Day in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

There was also a film made, entitled Black Man, by Jon Covington. It premiered at the Frauenthal in December, but many on social media have been asking how they can see it if they missed that. One answer is that it will be featured throughout the ML King Day event on Jan. 21 and then again (at the MMA) on Feb. 14 at 1:30 p.m. All these showings are free.

Also in conjunction with the Sons photographs, which were taken by well-known portraitist Jerry Taliaferro, is an exhibit of paintings and graphic art by Joseph Grey II, whose iconic drawings illustrated many an ad campaign starting in the 1950s; as an African-American man, he blazed trails for others in the New York advertising world.

The exhibit, “Ad Man,” runs now through March 10, as does “Sons.”

But that is by no means all. In addition to the wonderful pieces from the MMA permanent collection, on display in the downstairs gallery is “Conduct Becoming: A Survey of Distinction,” part of a photographic essay by C.J. Breil that shows the diversity of people who serve in the military. Just outside that, across from the gorgeous Dale Chihuly glass work, is a cluster of striking photographs about justice.

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