Opening Proves Rip-Roaring Success
Guests become participants in art and rip up their diet books at The Great Rip Up at River’s Edge Gallery.
Art enthusiasts filled River’s Edge Gallery Friday night despite freezing temperatures to attend the opening of Brenda Oelbaum’s display, “My New Year’s Revolution.”
Oelbaum celebrated the opening by hosting The Great Rip Up, an event for guests to bring diet books and rip them up.
Oelbaum will use the ripped pages to make a new Venus.
Guests were invited to write down their own new year’s revolutions or comments on paper and hang them on gallery walls.
Irina Haralambis, a photography student at Wayne State University, saw the Willendorf Project installed in the River’s Edge Gallery window on her way to work at Bella Donna’s in downtown Wyandotte.
She recently learned about the Venus of Willendorf statue in art history class, and Oelbaum’s Venuses in the gallery window caught her eye. She said Oelbaum’s display is incredible. Haralambis explored the gallery and spent the majority of her night participating in The Great Rip Up.
Haralambis said ripping up diet books felt empowering.
“I feel like I’m empowering myself and any woman who has felt self-conscious.” Haralambis said. “It takes a lot to feel comfortable with yourself. I still struggle with it.”
Several members of Women’s Caucus for Art attended the opening, including Oelbaum’s friend, Margaret Parker of Ann Arbor.
Parker attended a show in August at River’s Edge Gallery and said she thought it was a pretty cool place with lots of energy and people coming in.
“I think it’s great to have a gallery that encourages people to do out-there and wild things in their front window,” Parker said.
Parker spent time ripping diet books at the opening.
“I think it’s amazing to do a project that invited people to participate,” she said.
Parker said the Willendorf Project is fantastic and has loved watching it grow. She said Oelbaum has a great sense of humor, which has helped her work reach audiences while tackling very serious subjects.
Gallery owner Patt Slack was pleased with the opening and The Great Rip Up.
“I thought it was really good.” Slack said. “I really enjoyed people’s reaction to interaction. People want to be part of it.”
Amanda Levitt, founder of Love Your Body Detroit, came to the opening to experience the revolution and support fat activism.
“People deserve the fundamental right to do what you want with your body,” she said. “Fat rights help all people”.
Eliza Neuman, a Wyandotte native visiting from Seattle, came in to the gallery specifically to see “My New Year’s Revolution.”
“I’m totally into the celebration of the anti-anorexic image,” Neuman said.
Oelbaum said she enjoyed meeting people she did not know and making connections with them and other members of the Women’s Caucus for Art. She said the gallery did a wonderful job promoting the event and she was glad people got into ripping up diet books.
“It was a blast,” Oelbaum said.
Oelbaum recently found out the Willendorf Project has been invited to the Dirty Show in Detroit in February.
She was initially hesitant because her statement with her nude picture wasn’t meant to be seen as dirty.
The more Oelbaum thought about it, she said the invite was justified. She said, “The diet industry is a dirty industry.”
You can experience “My New Year’s Revolution” now through Feb. 18 at River’s Edge Gallery.
You may also see the Willendorf Project at the Dirty Show from Feb. 11-19 at Bert’s Warehouse in Eastern Market in Detroit