Yardstick Bookshop and Gallery’s event for October First Friday in Algoma is an artist reception for Melissa Dorn, whose exhibition “Mopping Up” will appear Oct. 5 through Nov. 2 at the sotre and gallery, 317 Steele St. The reception is 5-8 p.m. Friday (Oct. 5).

According to the news release from Algoma Area Chamber of Commerce:

In 2015, Melissa Dorn began obsessing over mops. “Mopping Up,” heavily influenced by industrial mop heads, comments on issues around labor, women’s work, and abstraction. The exhibition features drawings, paintings and sculptures as well as an altering of the gallery space.

Dorn works between painting and sculpture. She infuses common objects, things often overlooked, with humor and animating textures. She is represented by Frank Juarez Gallery.

Her work is found in many corporate collections including Tax-Air, Northwestern Mutual, Mandel Group, West Bend Mutual Insurance Company, Littler Mendelson and Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.

Why mops? While reading “33 Artists in 3 Acts” by Sarah Thornton, Dorn came across the word “mop.” She couldn’t get the word out of her head. She wrote it down. She sketched her version of the mop. The word became funnier the more she obsessed about it.

“Mop is a funny word. It’s short,” Dorn explains, “but it feels alive. If you repeat it over and over again in your head, then start saying it aloud, it sounds funny and then becomes even funnier.”

Dorn thought the mop might just stay in her sketchbook and her head, until she remembered her mom frequently calling her a mophead when she needed a haircut. Now, from hair to labor to feminism, Dorn realizes the endless possibilities of mops.

East Shore Industries and its subsidiary, Algoma Mop Manufacturers, worked with Dorn to provide the fibers used in portions of the installation.

“I originally found out about Algoma Mop through my intern, who did some research on mop facilities in the area. She contacted them and they were very interested in what I was doing with mops,” Dorn said. “They offered to take me on a tour of their facility, which I gladly took them up on. It was really informative to see how mops were made and to realize all the different colors that they come in. The tour definitely informed what I’m doing and also spurred ideas for the installation of my exhibition at the Frank Juarez Gallery.

“I did acquire some mop material from them that will be in some of the works in the exhibition.”

Dorn also worked with East Shore clients on an art project while visiting the facility.

Yardstick is a multifaceted work in progress housed in a historical building in downtown Algoma. Owner Heidi Raak plans to open as a progressive bookstore, gallery and coffee shop in the spring. The name Yardstick is meant to remind us to measure up to our ideals and practice.

Meantime, Yardstick is hosting pop-up events in its unfinished space, including this exhibition of Melissa Dorn’s work, as well as various readings. A holiday pop-up shop is planned in Yardstick’s storefront in November and December, then the store will close the store to complete the vision and re-open, fully realized, in Spring 2019.

Raak was the owner of the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas, for 10 years before moving to Algoma in October 2017. She was born in Boston, grew up in western Pennsylvania and spent the last 20 years in Lawrence before falling in love with Algoma and the Michigan shore.

Yardstick’s hours of operation for October 2018 are Oct. 5, 5-8 p.m.; Oct. 6, noon-5 p.m.; Oct. 7, noon-4 p.m.; Oct. 13, noon-4 p.m.; Oct. 20, noon-4 p.m.; Oct. 27, noon-4 p.m.; and Nov. 2, 5-8 p.m.; and by appointment at 785-917-9628.

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