Supporting Local Artists with an Edge
Storefront of the River's Edge Gallery in downtown Wyandotte, Michigan. Photo by Ashley Demario
When the River’s Edge Gallery opened in 1980, founders Patt and Jim Slack wanted to bring more art to the community and a place to show original art.
Located on Biddle Avenue in downtown Wyandotte, Michigan, the gallery has remained a hub for artists for over forty years. The gallery is an eye-catcher when walking downtown with all the different types of artwork in the window,
In 2001, Jim Slack had passed away; then shortly after, Patt met Jeremy Hansen.
Hansen was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. When Hansen used to perform for Disney on Ice, he met the woman who would become his wife, and they moved to her hometown of Wyandotte, Michigan. After they divorced, Hansen remained in Wyandotte, where he met Patt, and since then, he has not left the River’s Edge Gallery. Hansen is now the gallery director.
The gallery has three floors with three different areas to showcase art. The first floor includes a mixed array of art by local and international artists. Abstract and anime-inspired paintings by mural artist Fel3000ft are hung across from paintings of carousel horses by Julia Fournier, who is well-known for painting the carousel at Greenfield Village in Dearborn.
Hansen said, “We’ve worked with some artists for the 43 years we’ve been open. And we’ve worked with some artists for 43 seconds. It always just depends, and it always turns around.”
The second floor of River’s Edge Gallery, the mezzanine, features two artists: painter, Martine MacDonald, and ceramist and sculptor, Corey Scillian. The artists were encouraged to do what they wanted to do, no rules, no themes or guidelines, which is why the show is fittingly called, “Do What We Want.”
It is MacDonald’s preference to use media and style that catches the attention and intention of the viewer, regardless of what other people might expect. She uses images of herself but does not want her work to be seen as self-portraits. Taking inspiration from literature, mythology and natural objects, MacDonald aims to capture universal themes found in both the real and mystical worlds.
Martine MacDonald "Doing What We Want" exhibit, River's Edge Gallery, Wyandotte, MI.
Photo courtesy River's Edge Gallery
Scillian describes herself as a feminist. Scillian states, “I believe in the balance of workplace and home responsibilities for all genders. However, this newest body of work primarily focuses on the character importances of what I think of as a ‘gentle’ man. With so much attention given to men of bad character, it feels important to make sure we take a moment to recognize that there are many good men in our lives who deserve attention. I’ve always hoped and believed that the people around us would rise up to meet expectations, and now would be the right time to make clear the expectations of good peace.”
Sculpture by Corey Scillian, “Do What We Want” exhibit, River’s Edge Gallery, Wyandotte, MI. Photo by Ashley Demario
On the third floor of the gallery are studios where you might catch an artist at work. The wide windows on the third floor provide beautiful natural lighting to view works by artists like Kyra Wolij, who is a watercolor artist, Con Lustig, who is an oil painter, and the gallery’s very own, Jeremy Hansen, who uses recycled material for many of his pieces. “I never intended to be a professional artist. A professional artist is someone who makes art, and it’s really like a job. For me, it’s really like a lifestyle,” Hansen said.
The River’s Edge Gallery has, since its inception, always been supportive of the local art scene and the community. There are a lot of local regional artists often at the gallery. Throughout Wyandotte, one can find projects that were done by artists who have been in the gallery.
"Trapped Inside the Wind" by Laura Atkins painting at the River's Edge Gallery in Wyandotte, MI. Photo courtesy Laura Atkins.
Rocking horse by Julie Fournier at the River's Edge Gallery in Wyandotte, MI. Photo by Ashley Demario.
While I visited, nationally renowned local artist, Keith Coleman, walked into the gallery to show Patt Slack and Jeremy Hansen the tail of a bull statue that had been vandalized. Coleman designed and built the 5-foot-tall and 8-foot-long bronze bull sculpture that stands on the corner of Biddle Avenue and Oak Street just outside the offices of Merryl Lynch, which bought the bull from Coleman. Patt shared how Coleman used to be a famous hot rod welder, who was even featured on national television; then he came to the gallery and became inspired to become a metal artist. Coleman said it was the best thing that has ever happened to him.
Bull sculpture by Keith Coleman, downtown Wyandotte, MI. Photo by Kelly Luttrell.
The River’s Edge Gallery is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Friday 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Saturday 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. It is located at 3024 Biddle Ave, Wyandotte, MI. Information on upcoming events and exhibits are available at artattheedge.com.