Lowbrow Art Is Hanging High At Ice Cream Gallery

Ronnie Mack Edison inside the Ice Cream Gallery.

Ronnie Mack Edison inside the Ice Cream Gallery.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream Gallery! And here’s the scoop: fierce and flavorful treats of art, cool toys and clothing which gallery owner Ronnie Mack Edison describes as “lowbrow art” are waiting to whet your palette in Grand Rapids. So what is lowbrow art, you ask?
Lowbrow art is a new breed of modern art. Lowbrow artists tend to make fun of convention, adding humor on all different levels. The artists know the “rules” of art and deliberately disobey them. They are driven to do something different. Lowbrow draws heavily on icons of the popular baby-boomer culture, and in Grand Rapids Ronnie Mack Edison is the force behind it. As Edison puts it, “Lowbrow is the stuff your mom warned you about: sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Born from the custom car culture of the late-fifties and early-sixties by Big Daddy Roth and Rat Fink, underground comics, outlaw art, pin-striping, concert posters, graffiti and tattoos – all gave birth to a mix of wired, high-octane, sexually-charged, left-field outsider art, which is considered by the mainstream art world as lowbrow/low class.”
Ice Cream Gallery opened its doors last autumn with the perfect location and energy. “The flooring, the walls, the neighborhood… couldn’t be any better,” states Edison. Edison’s goal is to bring the talented works of local street artists and designers into the spotlight and give them exposure by bringing art in for the collector as well as the novice who is looking for that special something for their pad. Situated on Division Avenue, amongst the backdrop of the colorful Heartside District, lowbrow artists have found their haven in Grand Rapids. Pieces range in price from $20 to $2,500, with originals, limited editions, prints and silk-screens. “I hope to open up a world of art and artists which are not seen enough around here,” states Edison. He also is considering adding an ice cream stand in the gallery in the near future, complete with original flavors of ice cream in containers designed by the featured artists in his gallery.
A collection of works by artists both new and established has drawn out the city’s creative types. Recoil Safety Officer and cultural icon Dick Bill has some of his work hanging at the Ice Cream Gallery, among many other local artists. As Edison states: “We feature the art of Dick Bill, whose abstracts are complex and as hard to read as he is! Amazing work. We also have the cyber-punk style of Myke Amend, whose art places you in another world at another time. Then there are the bright cartoon styles of Joe Parsaca, the dark moody water colors of Cameron Tyme, the unique spumco styles of Steven ‘Frogger’ Stroghbrige with his stable of behorned beauties. Also featured are the twisted, dark and detailed works of Mark Fettig, our master monster man Roger Scholz who is an epic illustrator and the candy colors of Glucose girl.” Edison goes on to add: “We have newcomer Logan Firer with his Andy Warhol POP styles and another fav is local art genius Anthony Carpenter with his loony tunes pop culture meets Playboy illustrations and a touch of that one thing you can’t seem to name!”
Edison is passionate in his quest to pave the way for the lowbrow movement in Grand Rapids. He states: “Art can be whatever you want it to be. What some may find offensive, I find pure beauty. I want to push some boundaries and open some eyes to explore subjects and styles from all walks of life in art and music…and maybe cause a little controversy along the way.”
Ice Cream Gallery’s open house this month will be a celebration of the Tiki. The Freaky Tiki Lowbrow Luau, with live surf music, Tahitian treats, grass skirts and Polynesian play things will take place on Feb. 15 from 6 p.m. to midnight. The event will showcase local and international talented artists’ Tiki-inspired works.
Ice Cream Gallery is located at 117 S. Division, between Cherry and Oakes Streets. Ice Cream is open on Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. The gallery will feature live music every second Saturday night of the month and Sunday matinee shows here and there. Find out more on facebook.-Sherrie Coke  February 2013

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