GARRETT — “Michiana: The Art of Derrick Hollowell” opens Friday at the Garrett Museum of Art and will be featured through Sunday, Sept. 15.

An artist reception with Hollowell will take place Friday from 6-8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, with all ages welcome.

Derrick “VitoArt” Hollowell is noted for his illustrative and expressive portraiture of music and pop culture icons, along with his Afrocentric expressionism in female portraiture.

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Hollowell was a gifted student whose interests included sports and art. He studied printmaking and drawing and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Grand Valley State. He also began a prolific music career based on what was an emerging form at the time — hip-hop. His group, Euro-K, signed a record label deal and filmed a video for MTV.

In the past few years, he has opened and operated a series of innovative storefront and warehouse galleries in Grand Rapids. His loft is the location and venue for numerous exhibits, workshops, poetry readings and more. His mural work recently has been placed at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, Metropolitan Hospital, and an extensive jazz-themed collection is at The HopCat Brewery in Grand Rapids.

“I am truly fulfilled when my art ends up in places where many people see it. I have always been intrigued by the power of posters and illustrative images,” he said.

Artistically, Hollowell is constantly exploring watercolor portraiture while expanding on his aesthetic vision in oil painting, drawing and pop iconography. His greatest influences are 1960s-1970s illustrations, Japanese printmaking, German expressionism, African art and comic art, among others.

He currently teaches illustration to Grand Rapids public high school students at West Michigan Academy for Arts and Technology. He is the lead instructor for Artists Creating Together, a west Michigan organization focused on providing art therapy for children and adults with cognitive challenges. He serves on its board of directors.

“Michiana: The Art of Derrick Hollowell” reflects Hollowell’s desire to transport art across state borders to be viewed by a new audience.

“I decided to include a variety of work to spark intrigue, inquiry and hopefully, inspire,” he said.

Hollowell, will answer questions and give a sketch demonstration during the opening reception Friday.

The Garrett Museum of Art is at 100 S. Randolph St. in downtown Garrett. More information is online at garrettmuseumofart.org.

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