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Selected Past Exhibitions

The Richmond Center for Visual Arts presented these exhibitions in the Albertine Monroe-Brown Gallery. 

Esther Pearl Watson
Safer at Home: Pandemic Paintings

September 23 - November 14, 2021


Left to Right: Esther Pearl Watson, September 16, We Cover Our Windows With Plastic, 2020. Acrylic with pencil on panel, courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles

Esther Pearl Watson, October 29, Halloween Events Cancelled, 2020. Acrylic with pencil on panel, courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles

The Richmond Center for Visual Arts announces a major exhibition of Los Angeles-based artist Esther Pearl Watson's newest body of work, Safer at Home: Pandemic Paintings. Coolly observational and poignantly confessional, a chronology of more than one hundred intimately-scaled paintings capture the surreal circumstances of life in 2020 during the onset of COVID-19. 

Revered for her "memory paintings," Watson's Safer at Home series is based not only on the artist's personal experience of pandemic life in Los Angeles, but also on meticulously researched news articles that report the year's cascade of historic events. From the heart-wrenching consequences of quarantine and isolation to the sense of doom ignited by California's forest fires, Safer at Home documents enormous shifts in accepted realities of daily life. 

Mimi Kato
Wild Corporation

September 23 - November 14, 2021


Mimi Kato, Risk Management, Archival pigment print, 2018

Synthesizing performative and photographic processes, Mimi Koto's most recent body of work, Wild Corporation, explores dynamics of power in female relationships through large digital prints and surreal sculptural objects made from everyday office supplies. Coming of age in in Japan during the 1980s and ‘90s, Kato was taught to accept society’s remaining gender inequalities as simply inevitable. While many women were urged to assume Japan’s non-career tracks (Ippanshoku), women who pursued leadership and managerial positions (Sōgōshoku) often ignited powerful feelings of resentment and conflict amongst women in the workforce. Incorporating her personal experiences with corporate Japanese culture as well as her life in the United States, Kato’s work contests traditional boundaries and patriarchy, while also examining rivalries between women. 

Turning the expected feminist script on its head, Mimi Kato's larger than life visual sagas in Wild Corporation feature two tribes of female employees who, with little hope of career advancement, turn against one another to battle it out. Donning laughably impractical skirts and vests, these women hunt, take hostages, and lash out against one another, fashioning their arms from staplers, rubber bands, zip ties, rulers, thumbtacks, binder clips and the like. 

Taking inspiration from Japanese landscape painting and theater, especially contemporary Butoh and traditional mask theater as well as Kyōgen comedy tradition, Kato's multi-step approach includes photography (most often with a 35mm camera and handheld remote), as well as performance, costume construction, prop design, and drawing.  While the resulting prints appear to embody the sleek, seamless look of a filmstrip and a dynamic world in motion, Kato's images are in fact layered stories, composite images made up of the artist's experiences in Japan and in the United States, ostensibly set in a world where time is of less consequence than the action and reaction of the present moment. 

Click here for the digital preview of Wild Corporation, featuring an interview between Mimi Kato and Director of Exhibitions for the Richmond Center, Indra K. Lācis, PhD. 

Five Contemporary Ukrainian Photographers:
Igor Chekachkov, Alexander Chekmenev, Eugney Kom, Vitaly Fomenko and Lana Yankovska

Exhibition ended May 1, 2021

Igor chekachkov-600.jpg

© Igor Chekachkov​

Opening March 2021

Organized by VASA, an online center for media studies. 

Curated by Roberto Muffaleto and Igor Manko. 

In 1970s and ‘80s Ukraine, under strict state censorship, photographers mainly worked underground, and it was only after 1990 that artists emerged free from soviet ideological constraints. Twenty-eight years later Ukraine photographers are experiencing the freedom won by the struggles of previous generations. The work presented here by five Ukrainian artists from different geographic regions and different generations may be best understood as a rich example of that transition from censorship to freedom.


Featuring five contemporary photographers from throughout Ukraine, Eyes on Ukraine covers nearly 25 years while also reflecting the current political interest in Ukraine. From direct social reportage on the toil of Donbas miners, to complex techniques using found material, from elaborated quasi beach photos, to reflections on the annexation of Crimea, the selection showcases the diversity of themes and approaches that are characteristic for the art of photography in the country.


About VASA: 

VASA, an online center for media studies, created the current traveling exhibition Eyes on Ukraine: Five Contemporary Ukrainian Photographers from its commitment to provide Ukrainian photographers and film makers a platform for their voice. Over the last four years, VASA exhibited the work of photographers associated with the Kharkiv School of Photography (4 exhibitions tracing the 1970-80 until current time), Crimea (images and film), Ukraine Project, the war in the Ukraine, and a number of individual artists presented in the VASA Front Page Project. All of the exhibitions, essays and films have been archived on the VASA platform (

Studio Life:

Ken Freed’s Gift to the University Art Collection

Honoring Professor Emeritus Curtis Rhodes

Exhibition ended May 1, 2021


Studio of Louise Nevelson

Ken Freed

Intaglio Print

In 1976, while Kalamazoo-based artist Ken Freed was in graduate school at Western Michigan University, he received a Ford Foundation Grant to create a suite of ten intaglio prints.  Mentored by Professor Curtis Rhodes, who founded the print collection within what is known as the University Art Collection today, Freed took as his muse the subject of the artist’s studio. Aided, as Freed recalls, by “the kindness of so many artist who took pity of a twenty-some year-old student from Michigan,” Freed visited the studios of Lowell Nesbitt, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, Philip Pearlstein, Louise Nevelson, Richard J. Haas, William S. Haney, Stephen Woodburn, Hiroshi Murata and Robert Indiana. Completely devoid of figures, the resulting prints provide an intimate view into the very private spaces that gave way to works of great public interest and historical significance.


About the artist:

Ken Freed was born in Dayton, Ohio and moved to Battle Creek, Michigan at the age of 14.  He started painting at 15 and was the youngest artist to have a one-person exhibition at the Battle Creek Art Center. He attended Davidson College and received a B.A. as one of the first art majors in the history of the school.  During graduate school, Freed earned purchase awards in several national painting, print, and drawing exhibitions as well as grants. He received a MA from SUNY Oswego and a MFA from Western Michigan University.  Freed has exhibited in many parts of the country and has won over thirty purchase and cash awards in competitions.


Mr. Freed has been a full-time painter for more than 30 years and has taught for nearly three decades at the Kirk Newman School at the Kalamazoo Institute of Art to full capacity classes each session.  His many private and public portrait commissions include the Irving Gilmore Commission for the Gilmore Theatre Complex for Western Michigan University and a recently completed an 8' x 20' mural on panel for Community Inclusive Recreation, Battle Creek, MI.  His work may be found in many public collections including museums, college and corporate collections and was exhibited between 2001- 2004 at the Navy Pier International Exhibition in Chicago. His work is representational with an emphasis on the observation of abstract properties of form and color within the naturalistic orientation. Much of Mr. Freed’s recent work focuses on portraiture, figure paintings, and self-portraiture. New work includes egg tempera, casein/oil emulsion as well as oil paintings.

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