Michael Nortrop Icon of St. Cyprian

Glen Oaks to feature Russian Art at new Flora Kirsch Beck Art Gallery

Glen Oaks Community College will host over 80 pieces from the Garrylee McCormick and John Hall Russian Art Collection in the new Flora Kirsch Beck Art Gallery.

The opening reception will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 18 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. with McCormick and Hall on hand for the event. The exhibit will feature both two- and three-dimensional objects. Appetizers will be prepared in traditional Russian cuisine.

“One of the oldest pieces of art ‘Icon of Saint Cyprian,’ will be on display,” said Michael Northrop, professor of art at Glen Oaks. “The artist is unknown, but the piece was created in the late 18th century around 1790.”

A number of paintings and a lithographic print by female Russian painter Militsa Sergeevna Charnetskaya (1914-1997) are part of the collection.

“And, a Russian exhibit wouldn’t be complete without the popular Matryoshka – The Russian Nesting Doll,” said Northrop. “The first set of Russian dolls was turned out in 1890. The exhibit includes both the typical wooden dolls in addition to a carved set of dolls representing the figures of the Russian Orthodox Church. Yet still another set features some of the past presidents of the Soviet Union including Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Mikhail Gorbachev.”

Other pieces of art include wooden eggs, often referred to as “pysanky” eggs as they model the style of pysanka in a different medium, and Russian lacquer art boxes, which typically are paper mache decorative boxes that were lacquered and then hand painted by artists, often with scenes from folk tales.

Soviet Socialist propaganda posters promoting the idea of government systems in favor of the Soviet Union system of governance were popular in the Soviet times; only pro-Soviet posters were allowed. A number of these posters are part of the collection.

“I’m very excited about hosting our first major exhibit in the new Flora Kirsch Beck Gallery,” said Northrop. “Personally, Garrylee McCormick was “instrumental in helping me pursue my career in art.”

Garrylee McCormick and John Hall, both of Kalamazoo, have been collecting Russian Art throughout their lifetime. The collection on exhibit is only a fraction of the total collection as together they have over hundreds of pieces of art. McCormick is a hair and wig master at Western Michigan University. In addition to his work with WMU, he serves as hair and wig master for the Barn Theatre and is a freelance wig master for national tours playing at Miller Auditorium and DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids. He is a member of IATSE Local 26 and the Theatrical Stage Employees. He owns Garry’s Magic Comb Hair Salon in Kalamazoo. In addition, he is a printmaker, photographer and painter.

John Hall was a registered nurse and instructor at the Bronson School of Nursing and is Garrylee’s partner of over 40 years.

The McCormick and Hall Russian Art exhibit is free and open to the public and will be on display on lunch hours through October. Special arrangements for groups to view the exhibit can be made by appointment by contacting Michael Northrop at mnorthrop@glenoaks.edu or by calling (269) 294-4277.  Parking at Glen Oaks is free.