Port Austin, Michigan, is a quaint village on the shores of Lake Huron known for its beaches, and water sports Vegetable-shaped rock formations. With hundreds of residents, the small community relies heavily on tourism to fund its economy, a Detroit-based botanical artist Lisa Waud dealt with a recent pop-up installation in one of the city’s abandoned grocery stores.
Called “Party Store” – this slang refers to a small store that sells snacks, liquor, lottery tickets, and other cheap staples – the immersive project transforms a shabby space into a lush garden of freshly cut Michigan flowers and man-made replicas Resale businesses across the state. A water-damaged suspended ceiling, stained carpeting, and wood paneling peer through the colorful plants that envelop a commercial coffeemaker, creep over shelves, and spill out of dimly lit coolers.
Similar to her other site-specific works like her 2015 transformation of a condemned duplex in Detroit, Waud describes “Party Store” as a “cleansing reset” that uses the tension between life and decay as an incentive to reflect on cultural understandings of permanence and availability. She refers to pieces like Robin Frohardt’s grocery store is filled with plastic groceries and Prada Marfa as influences, two major projects that criticize consumption through their satirical imitation of everyday and luxury goods. “When I spent time in Port Austin, I saw a similarity between its tourism culture and that of my hometown Petoskey,” writes Waud in a statement. “The local economy depends on the tourists, but often the people who come can have a ‘one-way’ character for their visit, as evidenced by the increase in practical items, often packaged in single-use plastic.”
“Party Store” was dismantled after its run from July 16-18, when many of the materials were recycled or reused. “By installing flowers, which will ultimately be composted, in a space that historically sells items that are not biodegradable, I hoped to create a link for responsible decision-making in the future of visitors,” says the artist .
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