Marshall Fredericks staff exhibit: amusing, retro

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Two SVSU staff from the Marshall Fredericks Museum are showing their artwork in a collaboratively show at Studio 23 in Bay City.

The show is entitled Retro and Whimsical and displays work from the curator of education, Andrea Ondish, and registrar, Geoffrey Haney.

The idea began when Ondish mentioned the idea to Tara Welch, a former SVSU student who is now the executive director of Studio 23.

Welch was excited about the idea and started the ball rolling.

According to Ondish, her pieces had been displayed several times as their own show, but she was really interested in filling up the Studio 23 space and wanted Haney to show with her.

“Andrea pressured me into it,” Haney laughed. “Her work is very whimsical and the collages I was working on fit really well, so she wanted to show together.”

Ondish’s work focuses on manipulating the shape of common tools into abstract female figures.

She has both black and white and color pieces and they are meant to be silly, yet with deeper underlying meanings.

“It’s very weird, funny imagery,” Ondish said. “There is lots of personal meaning and symbolism from my own life. I want people to see the fun in them but also get their own deeper meaning.”

In comparison, Haney’s work is primarily collage. He focuses on very retro designs and uses old magazines and photos for his pieces.

He will also use more than just traditional paper as his foundation.

He has used wood, windows, old paintings and already-used pieces of paper to build up these collages, as well.

“I am a vintage retro fanatic, especially the 1920s and 1950s,” Haney said. “I even live that lifestyle. My wife and I collect a lot and my house has become a kind of shrine to that time period.”

According to Haney, his favorite part of this experience was the opening show where more than 150 people showed up.

“The feedback was really great, and I’ve sold several pieces as well,” Haney said.

For those wandering through the gallery and observing his work, Haney hopes they laugh.

“It’s happy in a bizarre, cynical sort of way but still light hearted,” he said. “There’s always something to odd to balance the pieces.”

Ondish agrees  and emphasized how that aspect of humor is what tied her and Haney’s pieces together so well.

“It’s like the show ‘M*A*S*H*.’ They were always cutting up even with the serious job of keeping people alive and others got mad at them, but it was really a stress reliever,” she said. “I want to show people that it’s OK to lighten up and be silly even when things are really serious.”

Both Haney and Ondish encouraged students to go out to the show.

It is up through the end of February and has free admission.

“I always tell people that it’s never a bad idea to go to a museum on a date,” Haney said. “It’s funny and there is nothing too terribly serious.”

For Ondish, getting beyond SVSU to see shows like this is of critical importance for students’ education as well as social life.

“Seeing so many different venues is part of being worldly and to me, worldly people make great decisions and have more breadth to their thinking process,” Ondish said. “It’s nice to stretch out, see what’s around you and explore.”