October 4, 2017

The Art & Design of Jim Miller-Melberg @ Hyperallergic

DETROIT — Hearken back, if you will, to your childhood playground. In all likelihood — if this was any time after the 1950s and before the 2000s — this was an environment that included classic pipe-frame monkey bars, splinter-inducing tanbark, swings that might possibly perform a complete 360 rotation around the top bar (the limit constantly being pushed by that one kid, usually named Dustin), and perhaps a friendly cement turtle, porpoise, or camel holding court on the grass or in the sandbox.

Some of these animal friends, and other abstract forms, including the “Swiss cheese” climbing structure, the twirling helix often dubbed “DNA” (but intended as a tree form), the “Eagle’s Nest,” and many other omnipresent fixtures of the midcentury playground are not, as many imagine, the product of nameless mass production, but the work of a Michigan-based fine artist and self-made seminal playground designer, Jim Miller-Melberg. A two-part exhibition, The Art of Play, mounted by Lawrence Technological University’s Center for Design + Technology, explores the process and the fine art career of this artist, who holds a place — albeit an often nameless one — in our childhood memories.

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