New photography exhibition explores the Grand River

‘reDiscovering the Grand’ opens April 25 at PCCA

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published April 15, 2015


ROCHESTER — The Paint Creek Center for the Arts invites the public to the kickoff of a photographic collaboration focusing on the Grand River on April 25.

“reDiscovering the Grand,” which will be on display at the PCCA through May 30, includes the work of Nathan Abramowski, of Grand Rapids, and Jason Rutter, of Allendale.

“The exhibition features over 20 images from a documentary project that they have been working on for over a year now that depict the natural beauty of the Grand River and its watershed,” said PCCA Exhibition Director Rana Edgar.

The two men, who work together in the photography department at Grand Valley State University, were inspired to embark on the project following the massive amounts of snow that fell in Michigan during the winter of 2014; they were curious about what would happen once it all melted.

The body of work, which Rutter said is an ongoing project, deals with several aspects of the river.

“One is how do you show and describe the Grand River? …  It is the longest river in the state of Michigan, and it is very difficult for someone to wrap their mind around something this long and this big, to think about what it looks like. So, a very formal quality of the work is to show what the river looks like. Broken down inside this formal quality is different environmental issues in regards to the Grand River. We have aspects dealing with land usage between public and private property, and how that controls access to the river, and other aspects that deal with invasive species,” Rutter said.

The exhibition is an excellent opportunity for those in the area to get a very unique, intimate perspective on what a river on the west side of the state looks like, he said.

“There are a lot of really nice images made in places that most people do not get to,” Rutter added. “And there are some really surprising and interesting physical features to the Grand River that most people do not normally see.”

The photographers both said they feel the subject matter is relevant for this time period.

“As we move into the future, the health of our water resources is going to become an ever-stronger component in our daily conversations about how we do things, and we’re making the case, through photographs, that this needs to be protected,” Rutter explained.

Edgar said the PCCA’s Exhibitions Committee hopes those who come to see the show will be more mindful, locally, of the Clinton River and its watershed.

“The Grand River affects all of us that live in Michigan, and while it’s not at our back door, we are hoping — through this exhibition — that local patrons will think of the Clinton River and its importance to the area that we live in,” she said. “Perhaps this exhibition will start some dialogue about the Clinton River and its watershed, too.”

The public is invited to a gallery talk from 4-5 p.m. April 25, followed by an opening reception from 5-7 p.m., held in conjunction with the Downtown Rochester Spring Gallery Stroll.

The annual stroll gives art lovers a chance to travel from gallery to gallery, admiring artwork, mingling with artists and becoming better acquainted with downtown Rochester. This year, seven businesses are participating in the stroll: Aurum Design Jewelry, Haig’s of Rochester, Hermitage Gallery, Fieldstone Winery, Eugenia’s Third Street Hair Salon and Gallery, Rush Antiques and the PCCA.

All gallery stroll participants will receive a card to be punched at every gallery they visit.

Those who receive stamps from all seven galleries can drop their completed cards off at any gallery on the stroll to be entered into a drawing for a downtown Rochester business gift certificate.

The Spring Gallery Stroll is free and open to the public. For more information, visit or call (248) 651-4110.