"Souped-up Pontiac" is an exhibition at the Museum of New Art in Pontiac that runs from May 10th to June 7. It will be a hyperkinetic mash-up of art and visuality by a group of artists from around the world. Art in the show will include live action painting by Dr. Barnaby Ruhe and Frank Shifreen in a battle to the death creating mural sized paintings done on the spot. This is a show of artists talking to other artists and the public is welcome to drop in on the conversation. The name "Souped-Up Pontiac" says Frank Shifreen, is a title that reflects the deep ambiguity of American Culture. Art can depict the realities of our society and give them beauty and meaning. Pontiac is an important symbol of the clash of two worlds. The lost Native American civilization versus automobile consumer culture that was ascendant and now perhaps is in decline. It is an art exhibition that is in turns celebration, elegy, comedy, tragedy and farce. Shifreen chose artists whose work goes deeper than the superficial. Meaning i s one of the measures of depth.
Pontiac is a great town and a center of the automobile industry and car culture. The automobile has been an iconic symbol of freedom and prosperity. The ability to travel freely and move over long distances is a powerful lure for those needing a change. Power, mobility, entitlement. The car brand Pontiac celebrates the release of its new model "G8" this month. Pontiac is a great American car made by GM. It is interesting that the name "G8" also refers to the Summit of industrial democracies and Russia that meet every year to plan economic policy and to develop consistent strategies for issues rising to the forefront.. It is the most powerful non-governmental economic group in the world. The G8 meetings stress cooperation and opportunity. Critics have misgivings about their intentions and call it a cabal. G8 insists they are not a cartel. Much of what happens in the summit is secret. There have been numerous protests in the streets of cities around the globe in recent years. The exhibition ironically celebrates an automobile with a powerful supercharged engine and a a powerful economic engine with the same name, as well.
The town is named for Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa Nation. The story of Pontiac and the First peoples who lived in the Michigan area is a great but tragic counterpoint to the story of Capitalism and industry. Chief Pontiac fought colonization and tried to preserve the land of his people. He organized the most successful war by the First Nations against the European invasion. Dr. Will Grant, one of the artists in the exhibition is of the Chippewa, one of allied Nations of the Three Fires Council, that allied with Pontiac. His family has deep roots in Michigan history and still lives in the North Country. He says "We have lived here for 10.000 years". Other artists reflect these questions and dilemmas as subtext. Modern Art is a bastion of Do-it-yourself wild anarchist joy. Some of the works are not political. Making art itself is a response to Disneyfication of America. Art through the ages is about darkness and light, and this show is in that tradition.