Glitter Milk Gallery aims to fill a void in the Grand Rapids art scene when it opens on the West Side next weekend. Audria Larsen peeks inside the unassuming Alpine Avenue storefront and finds a talented local artist duo creating a riot of color.
From the sugarcoated subconscious of Miranda Sharp comes Glitter Milk Gallery
, a joint arts venture launched in tandem with her partner in love and lacquer, Josh McVety. The pair is transforming an unassuming storefront on the West Side of Grand Rapids into a riot of color, featuring a cheerful collision of lowbrow art, lollipops and local artisanal furniture.
Both recent graduates from Kendall College of Art and Design, since then the duo has been mired in the local art scene for just over two years. In that short time Sharp has curated five gallery shows around town, like the Hard Femme show hosted at Con Artist Crew Gallery, which featured over 97 works. And McVety’s custom furniture design business is buzzing. Those experiences curating events became an impetus for creating their own space. “It’s been very hard working in other people’s spaces to put up a show because you only get the time that they are available, which might be only a day and isn’t enough time,” says Sharp.
“People kept telling us that we needed a gallery,” says McVety, gallery tech and furniture crafter at McVety Design. And like any ambitious power couple in their early 20s, they did just that, but on their own terms.
The gallery name is a neat reflection of Sharp’s personal and artistic aesthetic, which blends smoothly with her creative moniker, Glucose Girls, featuring sugary dessert imagery and a feminine style paired with elements like monsters. Glitter stands for all things gaudy and showy, while milk, according to Sharp, “is the nectar of life. We live off it when we are first born, so when put together [glitter becomes] the nectar of life.”
“I just wanted to design a space that I would want to see art in and that I would want to hang my own art in,” says Sharp. “When I visited LA two years ago there were a lot of galleries like this. They just kind of did their own aesthetic and it worked and people loved it. You just have to trust your own taste.”
In many ways, Glitter Milk Gallery will fill a void in the Grand Rapids art scene with the focus on emerging contemporary artists, outsider art, illustration, pop surrealism and other underrepresented styles. These styles of art are fresh for the area, and also overdue. “It’s a niche in Grand Rapids because it doesn’t exist yet,” says McVety. “But, it’s not a niche anywhere else. It’s very much a West Coast kind of mentality, [where it is more common for] younger people to collect art that is much smaller and a lot less lofty in the ideas. It’s more about having fun.”
The newly overhauled space at 901 Alpine Avenue, which they excavated and revamped themselves, houses a storefront gallery with the McVety Design woodworking studio in the rear. At the time of this publication, the couple is putting the final touches on the space before their inaugural show. Gallery goers can expect candy colored décor, complete with a “crystal bench” created by McVety which features gemstone facets, supporting pillars painted to look like melting ice cream and other sparkling touches.
The first show, Die-Cut: A Sticker Show, launches on April 5 and refers to the process of making vinyl stickers. The theme was chosen because stickers are what introduced Sharp to illustration and the idea of art collecting. Because of the personal nostalgia attached to the medium, she felt it was a good fit for the first exhibit. All the works, by fourteen local and international artists, will be printed on stickers and available for purchase. And on opening night delectable treats and beverages will offered thanks to Brewery Vivant and The Cakabakery.
Initially, shows will be hosted bi-monthly. After each opening reception, the space will be open on several other dates throughout the month for patrons to visit the gallery. In addition to regular gallery shows, artist workshops will be held in conjunction with the month’s event. The first workshop will focus on wheat paste graffiti art and be taught by Chicago based artist Ricardo Gonzales. Stickers are connected to street art because they are fast and durable, says Sharp, which ties the first show to Gonzales’ style. Also, she notes that “they are not going to be doing anything illegal,” and says the graffiti workshop creations will happen in-house.
Looking to the future, Sharp says, “I want to expand one day. But I like starting off here. One day I would like it to be bigger and have a storefront, too, [while having] more of a permanent base of art created by small artists.” But for now, Sharp and McVety are focused on creating a self sustaining space that is not only connected to the greater arts community, but is also likely to become a mainstay in the scene.
You can enjoy Sharp’s candy-colored daydream come to life and explore the innovative world of McVety Design at www.glittermilkgallery.com
and www.mcvety design.com
Audria Larsen is a freelance writer, entrepreneur and professional entertainer. Her work has been published in Rapid Growth Media, Revue Magazine, Michigan Blue Magazine and Hooping.org. She is the founder of Audacious Hoops, Grand Rapids' original "hula" hoop company and produces a myriad of art and entertainment ventures.
Photography by Adam Bird