Gallery invites public to finish art journals

By: Eric Czarnik | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published November 2, 2012

 Janice Charach Gallery director Terri Stearn shows off a collection of journals that will be on display as part of a new exhibit, “The Journal Project.”

Janice Charach Gallery director Terri Stearn shows off a collection of journals that will be on display as part of a new exhibit, “The Journal Project.”

Photo by Donna Agusti

The Janice Charach Gallery’s final entry in its 2012 schedule promises to be a page-turner.

The art gallery is getting ready to show off a collection of collaborative art journals as part of its new exhibit, “The Journal Project,” Nov. 4-Dec. 20.

Gallery director Terri Stearn said she and her assistant came up with the idea earlier this year after hearing about similar projects in Los Angeles and elsewhere. The goal was to design an event that could run in tandem with the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit’s 61st annual Jewish Book Fair in November.

That is where the journals came in.

“We were sitting up and brainstorming,” Stearn explained. “We were thinking of something to do with books. We thought it would be more fun to invite the community, since so many people come. It should be really interesting to see what happens.”

Stearn said gallery staff began passing out blank journals to artists throughout the country several months ago. According to the rules, the first artist to work on a journal established its theme. Then the book was passed to another artist, giving other contributors a chance to flesh out the journal’s topic.

Artists employed all sorts of artistic media, Stearn said. “They have carte blanche to do what they wanted,” Stearn said. “Some are fabric, some are three-dimensional. They’re crazy.”

Michael Phillips, who runs the Jewish Gay Network in West Bloomfield, said in an email that he worked on three journals. He was a lead artist on one called “It Gets Better,” which he said is partly based on a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth campaign that expresses hope in the face of tough times.

Phillips said he looked at the broader meaning behind the message. “Each of us has had low points in our lives,” he said.  “What words, images and messages did we want to hear, or what messages did we hear that comforted us and made us feel hopeful again?” 

Phillips said he liked watching people cooperate and interpret the themes behind the journals.

“During the process of creating the journal that I started, a group of us got together and worked on our pages together like the old quilting bees,” he said.  “We talked, laughed and told stories, and of course we also ate. It was a great experience.”

According to Stearn, the gallery has designated Nov. 2 and Dec. 2 as days to invite the public to complete empty pages in the journals. Women ages 21 and over may also attend a 7 p.m. Nov. 15 ladies wine and journal party, Stearn said.

The journals will be for sale Dec. 16.

The JCC’s Janice Charach Gallery, 6600 W. Maple Road in West Bloomfield, will host “The Journal Project” Nov. 4-Dec. 20. Learn more about the event by calling (248) 432-5448 or visiting