VERY is pleased to present Michael Alexander Guran, Max Hangs On, January 18-20
Book Release Party Friday, January 18, 6-10 pm
Michael Alexander Guran is a recovering architect.
He retired in 2014 after decades of work on theaters, museums, courthouses, and other challenging and rewarding buildings as design principal at Safdie Architects. Architecture earned him a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Grant as well as a Rome Prize Fellowship, and allowed him to work with Moshe Safdie, Bob Venturi, Charles Eames, and members of the Navaho Nation.
Simultaneous pursuits included sculpture and site-specific installations. Guran originally came Boston to teach a month-long workshop on electronically amplified sculpture at MIT, one of which he installed across the institute’s main entrance dome. He also taught at USC, the Mass College of Art, and the University of Oregon. His two years at the American Academy in Rome evolved from an investigation of small but powerful nodes in baroque Rome’s urban fabric to an engagement of that fabric via pop-up sculptures in the parks and installations in palazzi.
In 2014, given time for introspection, Guran began to search for a way to tell the story of his early childhood. In early 1944, escaping from the battlefront between the retreating German army and the invading Russian forces as it approached their native Lviv, Ukraine, he and his parents and baby sister crossed the Carpathian Mountains into Hungary and boarded a train for Vienna, where relatives might provide refuge. Instead, the Nazis hijacked the train, depositing everyone aboard at Nordhausen, Germany. There they became slave laborers at a barbed wire factory complex with an airbase. While his parents worked seven days a week the unsupervised four-year-old Michael had one responsibility: to take care of his two-year-old sister. Max Hangs On, volume one of Guran’s graphic novel, narrates the terrors and adventures of these children, as they encounter nasty things like bombing raids and indigestible “soup,” as well as exciting ones like a train yard and luminescent ruins for exploring.
In addition to launching Max Hangs On, VERY will show some of the artist’s recent concrete wall sculptures. Guran discovered the beauty of well-cast concrete while working on Montreal’s Habitat 67 and Singapore’s Marina Bay resort, among other projects. But in these pieces, he imagines how a grown-up Max might approach stability and instability, sense and chaos.