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February 28, 2014

UNBOUND: WSU MFA 2 Thesis Exhibition–Wayne State University–Detroit

by Jim Welke

UNBOUND: WSU MFA 2 Thesis Exhibition–Wayne State University–Detroit thru 7-Mar with work by: Laurie D’Alessandro, Kyle Dill, Ani Garabedian, and Hiroko Lancour

“Unbound” forms the theme for this master’s thesis show. Despite that thread running through, the personality and outlook of each artist indisputably surfaces — bound as it were to their masterful work. As you might expect from students about to receive a master of fine arts degree, they delivered with meticulous attention to detail. In the gallery, you can almost sense how taught such a high stake show must stretch out the nerves of the artist — the intensity therein warms you on entering.

Laurie D’Alessandro offers works with a distilled, ethereal, denatured quality. She teases the essential elements from everyday things, leaving behind a vaporous residue of the original object almost like holographic projections of their souls.

Laurie D’Alessandro

Brother’s Shirt / tarlatan, cotton thread, buttons / 2013 / Laurie D’Alessandro

Laurie D’Alessandro

Brother’s Shirt / tarlatan, cotton thread, buttons / 2013 / Laurie D’Alessandro

Laurie D’Alessandro

White Shirt Deconstructed / 2013 / tarlatan, cotton thread / Laurie D’Alessandro

Brother’s Shirt and White Shirt Deconstructed demonstrate this effect with startling clarity. The originals are there, but not there and you find yourself wondering what “there” really means.

Laurie D’Alessandro

Pine on Mulberry #2 (triptych) / graphite frottage on Mulberry paper / 2014 / Laurie D’Alessandro

Laurie D’Alessandro

Pine on Mulberry #2 (detail) / graphite frottage on Mulberry paper / 2014 / Laurie D’Alessandro

With a frottage triptych, Pine on Mulberry #2, Ms. D’Alessandro once again dissolves the source object to reveal its textural essence, its interface to our vision. The tree evaporates, but the impression of it persists.

Laurie D’Alessandro

Polar Ice Cap / fiber, scoring out on silk / 2012 / Laurie D’Alessandro

Laurie D’Alessandro

Polar Ice Cap / fiber, scoring out on silk / 2012 / Laurie D’Alessandro

In Polar Ice Cap, Ms. D’Alessandro plays with time as well as content. Using diaphanous silk, she represents phases of Arctic ice cap melting (either seasonally, or through years of irreversible global warming, the likelier explanation). This work departs from her previous pieces by visualizing for us something usually out of reach and out of mind (but not inconsequential). By abstracting the ice to ghostly overlays, she brings our focus to altered dimensions of the ice as time progresses through layered cloth. With inconceivably precise execution and eloquent selection of subject matter, Ms. D’Alessandro brings her viewer in touch with her unique vision of things we know of, but through familiarity (or possibly willful omission in the case of the ice) we no longer really see. She puts us back in the head of a child, seeing a world with layer upon layer of complexity revealed incrementally.

Kyle Dill also repositions everyday flotsam and jetsam to emphasize the elemental form that comprises it. Most of the works he presents refer to the ubiquitous packaging (specifically, cardboard boxes) we encounter like cocoons enveloping our consumer purchases. This packaging isolates and presents an obstacle to the thing we desire within — like gulls fishing for crabs we snatch up the package and burrow through the carapace for the meat inside, heedless of the exterior. But, Mr. Dill tosses out the precious insides, and hands us back the shell, re-worked and re-formulated so that we encounter it as a substantial creation in its own right. That’s not a trivial accomplishment considering our saturation in this stuff that represents nothing but friction in our existence. We want so much to ignore it, to dispatch it, to be done with it once and for all. But there it is, Mr. Dill seems to say. Look at it. Appreciate it. Even admire it.

Kyle Dill

Waffle Box / copper, wood, paint / 2014 / Kyle Dill

Kyle Dill

Easy Vender (Fridge Mate) / copper / 2013 / Kyle Dill

Kyle Dill

Lift to Open / drywall paint / 2014 / Kyle Dill

Kyle Dill

Lift to Open / drywall paint / 2014 / Kyle Dill

Starting with Waffle Box, Mr. Dill takes us through a progression from the effectively two-dimensional source material, flat and unfolded, to the nearly realized but still nascent Easy Vender, to the monumental and complete Lift to Open where he converts an entire wall into concealing refuse. With these works, and numerous others throughout the show, Mr. Dill brings both skill and vision to bear, and takes us on a journey inside the box… so to speak.

Hiroko Lancour

Tsunami 3-11-2011 / silkscreen on hand-dyed linen / 2012 / Hiroko Lancour

Hiroko Lancour

Tsunami 3-11-2011 (detail) / silkscreen on hand-dyed linen / 2012 / Hiroko Lancour

Tsunami, by Hiroko Lancour, signals what seems to be a persistent theme in her work — perception, or possibly misperception. She seems to toy with visual as well as emotional cues to force us to re-see the subjects of her work. Tsunami gives us an elegant linen print enlivened with delicate geometric patterns. But at the center of each swirl we find a date printed: 3.11.2011 — the day the tsunami hit northeastern Japan with devastating effects. Enjoy the pretty, but memorialize this day. Nothing comes without a price she seems to say.

Hiroko Lancour

Curved but Straight: Seeing With Detached Retinas 1 / acrylic on canvas / 2013 / Hiroko Lancour

With Curved but Straight: Seeing With Detached Retinas 1, Ms. Lancour gives us a view of uniform, equidistant squares that should form a graph-paper grid of geometric perfection — but don’t. The contrasting colors and outlines put the grid in topsy-turvy motion to induce an unnerving vertigo in the viewer. This picture, like all good op art, takes control of your optical sensory hardware — eyes and brain — and dissolves what you thought were immutable, Euclidean constants.

Hiroko Lancour

Chance Operations: Enso / Japanese Hosho paper, sumi ink, vermillion ink, vellum paper, pencil / 2014 / Hiroko Lancour

Hiroko Lancour

Chance Operations: Enso / Japanese Hosho paper, sumi ink, vermillion ink, vellum paper, pencil / 2014 / Hiroko Lancour

Chance Operations: Enso, according to an explanatory video that accompanies the work, takes its inspiration from John Cage and his use of chance (via the I Ching) to formulate music. Here, Ms. Lancour used dice to fix the color and orientation of her symbols. This work feels a bit less visceral and immediate than Ms. Lancour’s other work in the show. The adjacent charts and tables detach the viewer further from the visual impressions inherent in the prints. Still, this work offers a useful window into the sometimes arbitrary process of art making and for that, if no other reason, it is worth a close look. But there is another reason to look: the images offer Ellsworth Kelly-like simplicity of form and color, and possess esthetic quality that stands firm with no prior knowledge of the process. So take them both ways: process and picture; intellectual and emotional. (Gerhard Richter made interesting use of chance too, in his color chart paintings — the element of chance in art recurs.)

Ani Garabedian

Stripes / oil on canvas / 2013 / Ani Garabedian

Ani Garabedian

Stripes (detail) / oil on canvas / 2013 / Ani Garabedian

Ani Garabedian works with paint, or in her mixed-media work: colored pencil, oil pastel, graphite and charcoal. All of her work shows a kinetic quality, mindful of time flickering by; of light perpetually evolving and transforming the scene at hand. In her painting, usually figurative, her markings come soft and quick, with not a lot of thick layers to force a sense of depth. For depth she relies on light and shade, in seeming motion as you gaze into her work. Stripes feels like a good example of where she captures the intensity and fragility of the moment like a snapshot. Here and there thinned paint runs down the canvas, compelled by gravity to do its own thing — in the moment — unbound as the show theme suggests.

Ani Garabedian

The Beginning of a New Beginning (Hubbard Lake) / oil on canvas / 2014 / Ani Garabedian

The Beginning of a New Beginning (Hubbard Lake) evidences this seemingly rapid, documentary style further. In this work, fragmentary outlines hover adjacent to the subjects and imagery intersects; figures blur into the background. Light seems to move and shift. All this suggests haste in execution, but these works do not convey impatience so much as a meditation on the evanescent nature of our existence.

Ani Garabedian

Catamaran / mixed-media on paper / 2013 / Ani Garabedian

Ani Garabedian

Feed / mixed-media on paper / 2013 / Ani Garabedian

In Catamaran and Feed and other mixed-media works where paint and pencil merge, Ms. Garabedian further accentuates kineticism over realism and spatial accuracy. The figures in both these works focus on the business at hand. They do not pose for the artist. In fact, they seem indifferent to the artist; indifferent to portraiture vanity. These pictures exude liveliness, an unmoored vibrancy that leads the viewer to believe these scenes do change from one moment to the next. Blink your eye and you see the next frame on an endless reel. That reflects a masterful winnowing of detail and application of marks only where essential. One wonders with anticipation where Ms. Garabedian will take this already acutely evolved style.

In fact, one wonders where every artist in this show will take their crisply defined style. They went all out and embraced risk as a friend. The risk-taking paid off, it seems. Cheers and congratulations to the artists in both the MFA1 & MFA2 shows. Cheers too, for the instructors who find the right mix of support and objective criticism to keep their students on track, yet fearless. Right on!

 

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February 26, 2014

Lighting Fires at 555 Gallery and Studios in Detroit

by Jim Welke

Stefan Johnson

mural by Stefan Johnson

Lighting Fires at 555 Gallery and Studios in Detroit (2801 W Vernor Highway), an exhibition of work by First Nations artists Mike Bollerud (Blackfoot/Crow), Alexis Cahill (Odawa), and Candi Wesaw (Potawatomi) runs thru 1-March-2014. The show appears in collaboration with the Michigan Native Arts Collective.

The show description includes a cautionary note from the Prophecy of the Seven Fires related by Edward Benton-Banai, Grand Chief, Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge. It describes a series of “fires” that imply stages of enlightenment or awareness. With the seventh fire comes a big choice:

“… The seventh prophet that came to the people long ago was said to be different from the other prophets. He was young and had a strange light in his eyes. He said, “In the time of the Seventh Fire a Osh-ki-bi-ma-di-zeeg’ (New People) will emerge.  They will retrace their steps to find what was left by the trail. Their steps will take them to the elders who will have fallen asleep. They will awaken to this new time with nothing to offer. Some of the elders will be silent out of fear. Some of the elders will be silent because no one will ask anything of them. The New People will have to be careful in how they approach the elders. The task of the New People will not be easy. If the New People remain strong in their quest, the Waterdrum of the Midewiwin Lodge will again sound its voice. There will be a rebirth of the Anishinaabe Nation and a rekindling of old flames. The Sacred Fire will again be lit.

“It is at this time that the Light-Skinned Race will be given a choice between two roads. If they choose the right road, then the Seventh Fire will light the Eighth and Final Fire – an eternal Fire of peace, love, brotherhood and sisterhood. If the Light-Skinned Race makes the wrong choice of roads, then destruction which they brought with them in coming to this country will come back to them and cause much suffering and death to all the Earth’s people. …”

“If we natural people of the Earth could just wear the face of brotherhood, we might be able to deliver our society from the road to destruction.  Could we make the two roads that today represent two clashing world views come together to form that mighty nation?  Could a nation be formed that is guided by respect for all living things?”

Are we the New People of the Seventh Fire? (read more…)

Candi Wesaw

Ngotwatso Shkote / oil / 2014 / Candi Wesaw

A series of oil paintings painted this year by Candi Wesaw illustrate the above prophecy with warm, sunlight luminous images. These images, as a cohesive narrative, draw the viewer in. When you get close, two or three fill your field of view and they resolve like stills from a film. A sad film: sad for environmental and social injustice wrought by modern civilization. But the script need not end in tears. The notes that accompany the paintings state, “If enough people (of all colors and faiths) turn from materialism and choose the path of respect, wisdom, and spirituality, environmental and social catastrophes can be avoided.” Not empty rhetoric considering we find ourselves in the midst of the Sixth Mass Extinction, similar in scope to previous extinctions like the one that eradicated dinosaurs and nearly every other land creature. An asteroid induced that one; humans induced this one. More than 50% of species will likely be extinguished through our apparent indifference. The message here seems worth heeding, and it comes from a group that did a pretty good job as stewards of their resources for about twenty thousand years before Caucasians, capitalism, and a raft of infectious disease (think smallpox) hit the shores.

Candi Wesaw

Nish Shkote / oil / 2014 / Candi Wesaw

Candi Wesaw

Nyannen Shkote / oil / 2014 / Candi Wesaw

Alexis “Toast” Cahill

Enlightenment / photograph / 2014 / Alexis “Toast” Cahill

Alexis “Toast” Cahill offers a series of photographs all showing mushrooms. These pictures, after feeling a touch of melancholy induced by Ms. Wesaw’s work, bring a gentle antidote. (The reproductions shown here will not do them justice.) The titles include Enlightenment, Wisdom, and Acceptance. These fungi, in all their convoluted fragility and basset hound loveliness seem to represent metaphors for better-balanced, quieter states of mind. But they dovetail with Ms. Wesaw’s message, too. Mushrooms are delicate and fleeting, but vital members of the ecosystem. They hold court in Cahill’s photos in quiet testimony to their worthiness: the least among us deserve respect.

Alexis “Toast” Cahill

Acceptance / photograph / 2014 / Alexis “Toast” Cahill

Alexis “Toast” Cahill

Wisdom / photograph / 2014 / Alexis “Toast” Cahill

A series of delicate pencil drawings by Mike Bollerud offer inspirational imagery of men and women firmly planted in the landscape, imbued with an aura of fortitude, grace, and nobility. They also suggest wistfulness — at least to this writer — for a lost era when the subjects of these images might have felt an abiding confidence that their way of life would persist undisturbed; that they had mastered coexistence with the natural world; that the universe rendered itself, if not benign, then just — a world that would nurture if respected. A race of aliens shattered those notions.

But if you wonder, this writer does not view all aspects of First Nations culture with unadulterated admiration. That culture springs from humanity after all. Some of their former war practices warrant criticism. But people in glass houses should never throw stones, and this writer does not intend to. Many aspects of that culture merit honor and emulation, and modern civilization would do well to adopt some of their ancient practices related to social justice and environmental preservation.

Cheers to Stefan Johnson of the Michigan Native Arts Collective & 555 Gallery and Studios for curating Lighting Fires.

Mike Bollerud

One Winter’s Night / pencil on display board / 2012 / Mike Bollerud

Mike Bollerud

Faith / pencil on Yupo watercolor paper / 2014 / Mike Bollerud

Mike Bollerud

The Butterfly Maiden / pencil (print) / 2002 / Mike Bollerud

555 Gallery and Studios occupy an old police precinct. Inside you find a spacious gallery with expansive north facing windows. You also find a block of holding cells still decked out in steel bars. If these don’t send a chill down your spine, you should check your pulse. But now the cells function as micro studios and galleries. An eclectic array of artwork and craft adorns them.

Down another hall, you find an exhibition of photographs taken by children in the FOCUS: Hope Excel Photography Program sponsored by the Peck Foundation, Jenny Risher Photography, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. These pictures will knock you out. But first you might shed a tear or two. They’re worth the effort. See them.

555 Gallery and Studios do good things for art and the surrounding community (they just held a pop up used clothing sale). Swing by and show support.

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February 25, 2014

JOHN OLSON: INTENSELIZONIO at What Pipeline

by Jim Welke

John Olson

JOHN OLSON: INTENSELIZONIO on now at What Pipeline (3525 W Vernor Hwy Detroit) through 29-March-2014

JOHN OLSON: INTENSELIZONIO at What Pipeline (3525 W Vernor Hwy Detroit) through 29-March-2014, presents a set of abstract works by visual artist, Wolf Eyes band member, American Tapes producer, East Lansing resident John Olson. You can find a smart pair of athletic shoes there, too.

John Olson

shoes / John Olson

All of the works up in the main gallery offer mixed media on canvas, paper, cardboard, or vinyl records. In the back room you can find some painted and sketched notebook pages; printed tee shirts; band ephemera on paper and fabric; at least one cassette; and some diminutive bits of pasted together collage. These last come as swag thrown in with every purchase.

John Olson

swag / John Olson

INTENSELIZONIO, the website exhibition description tells us, comes borrowed from “Bolano’s mind-blowing ‘Savage Detectives’ book.” Does Mr. Olson associate with the Visceral Realists? Visceral realism, according to William Little in his review What is Visceral Realism? Roberto Bolaño’s The Third Reich “…is the name Bolaño gave to one of the rival fictional poetry movements in Mexico City in The Savage Detectives. This was a thinly veiled allusion to the group of poets who called themselves Infrarealists (whom Bolaño co-founded in Mexico City in the 1970s). …from the Infrarealist Manifesto:

Chirico [the surrealist painter] says: thought must move away from all that which is called logic and good sense, must move away from all human problems, in such a way that things appear under a new aspect, as if illuminated by a constellation appearing for the first time. The infrarealists say: We are going to fill our heads with all human problems, such that things begin to move inside themselves, an extraordinary vision of man.”

From Bolano’s notes on his last novel, 2666, we get this cheerful adieu (translated from Spanish): “And that’s it, friends. I’ve done it all, I’ve lived it all. If I had the strength, I’d cry. I bid you all goodbye, Arturo Belano.”

John Olson

Untitled 2012 / John Olson

Olson’s bigger canvas pieces (20x16in) show a lot of white space with amorphous swabs of semi-transparent paint progressing across the plane, merging like plate tectonics. You could compare those paint markings to the similarly light touch of Arshile Gorky in his Surrealist The Leaf of the Artichoke Is an Owl (1944). Collage components settle into the paint like emergent life forms in protozoan ooze. Forms range from the blurry back of a fish, to faces, to fragments of those annoying pizza joint menus that litter your doorstep like rattling industrial sagebrush. It’s nice to see those come-hithers for toxic food nailed down and put to good ironic use. Divergent outlines of shapes appear interspersed throughout and form connective tissue between the collage and paint elements. Stare at these for a while and a thoughtful connectedness reveals, like a rain-soaked road map… you decide where the road leads.

John Olson

Untitled 2010 / John Olson

The smaller paint and collage works on paper (11×8.5in) have a Bacon-esque, urge toward the grotesque, but in a bulldog, endearing way that threatens and beguiles at the same time. Lots of black surrounds sketched faces, with painted-over photographic collage mugs alongside them at precarious angles. These howl at you, but not so menacing as those Francis Bacon concoctions — more like a triumphant self-celebratory shriek from the darkness they gladly inhabit.

John Olson

Untitled 2013 / John Olson

The painted vinyl LP’s show a happy/dark esthetic too. They feel more amorphous than the rectangular collage work, perhaps due to their circular shape — they lack an axis to align to. Like the universe, no meaningful up/down orientation exists. You can spin these through an infinity of positions and interpretations. On the flip side, you might find playable tracks. On occasion, Mr. Olson pressed single-sided LP’s and shipped them adorned with imagery on the reverse. This should remind you of the artist’s multi-disciplinary talents and his fearless mixing of media to form a personalized oeuvre like nothing before. We need to admire that willingness to leap into the unknown, untested, unproven and create an artistic context perfectly personalized.

John Olson

Untitled 2010 / John Olson

You will find two collage works formed on unfastened and unfolded cardboard boxes with handle cutouts still evident. These play out in a horizontal orientation like a narrative storyboard. They seem to capture a cheerful ambivalence toward the clutter of everyday consumerist existence that inhabits Mr. Olson’s work. All of the work here presents an almost childlike capacity to pull objects and images out of their assigned roles and reform them so that previously sublimated messages regain their voice. The work seems to tell us this banal, pedestrian crud that pollutes our lives possesses unseen inner personalities waiting for the revelation only an un-jaded, uninhibited, unselfconscious eye can provide.

 

Cheers to Daniel Sperry and Alivia Zivich for another well-executed show at What Pipeline.

 

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John Olson

small works & band ephemera / John Olson

John Olson

small works & band ephemera / John Olson

John Olson

JOHN OLSON: INTENSELIZONIO on now at What Pipleline (3525 W Vernor Hwy Detroit) through 29-March-2014

 

January 25, 2014

3: Kathryn Brackett Luchs, Lois Teicher, Marie Woo

by Jim Welke

Detroit Artists Market

3: Kathryn Brackett Luchs, Lois Teicher, Marie Woo / Detroit Artists Market

Kathryn Brackett Luchs

Birdy / Kathryn Brackett Luchs

3: Kathryn Brackett Luchs, Lois Teicher, Marie Woo up thru 17-February at Detroit Artists Market, the 82-year-old grande dame of Detroit galleries, features works by three artists presenting art in three media (more or less). Entering the gallery through the back door you stand at the narrow end of a long rectangle facing into a tall, wide piece by Kathryn Brackett Luchs called Birdy: 12 graphic films set in two groups, 2-wide and 3-high, positioned on either side of the original charcoal on canvas work about 7ft tall and 3.5ft wide. The films show negatives of sections of the original arranged out of correspondence — sections from the middle appear on the sides, bottom on the top, etc. But at first, you might not notice that the films capture sections of the original. This writer did not — the self-revelatory process takes a bit: the mental gears spool up and you sort out what you see after the requisite processing delay. That’s fun. It feels like you own it when you get there. (Others might see what’s going on instantly. Bravo. Less fun. Revelation should have a price.)

Kathryn Brackett Luchs

Buddha, Buddha / Kathryn Brackett Luchs

Adjacent to that hangs a similar work, of similar size, with nine negative films stationed to the right of the original, titled Buddha Buddha. Clued into the magic, you compulsively study the films to find their correspondence in the original. The more you look at them, the more the films feel a bit like x-rays, though. That feels unsettling — x-rays give away too much, kind of like finding out how sausage gets made. Next, you might sense a deliberately primitive quality to these works. This emerges partly from their frenetic, sprawling execution in pencil on a pure white field that suggests a reluctance to overwork them; an automatic quality. Also, the canvas stapled to the wall, the films tacked up with pushpins suggest studied carelessness. This seemingly hasty presentation, combined with the implied motion of the swirling gestures (like sub-atomic particles in a particle collider) give these two works an evidentiary feel, like proofs to some fundamental but inscrutable principle.

Beside this hangs Allegory, another work with a similar motif, equally large and enveloping. These works engage via their immediacy and the mystique of the negative translucency in the films. Give them time to seduce with their seeming simplicity.

Kathryn Brackett Luchs

April My Feng / Kathryn Brackett Luchs

April My Feng, also by Ms. Luchs, expresses a more deliberate process, possibly a more elaborate intention. Another large work (about 7ft by 4ft), it consists of three long sheets of paper mounted on canvas to form a triptych with woodcut and block prints done in ink. In the center, at least five different colors form lavishly layered vertically aligned patterns similar to tree bark. Masked horizontal bands of distinct colors mirrored from the center section appear imprinted on the side sections, some washed out with white, also in distinct bands. The sides, impoverished of color and texture, appear almost as fossilized remnants of the lush center. The balance of colors and textures feels comforting in an ineffable, organic way, and the transition of intensity from side to center feels like a natural emergence. The effect compels your eye to the center where it finds rest.

 

Lois Teicher

Eclipse Series #6 / Lois Teicher

Moving down the long wall of the gallery toward the front, your attention might be drawn to an incendiary orange, circular form projecting from the wall: Eclipse Series #6 by Lois Teicher. Two sections comprise the welded aluminum sculpture. On the wall directly opposite are four framed cut paper studies for this and other pieces in her Eclipse Series, one of which, #4, occupies an adjacent alcove.

Lois Teicher

Eclipse Series #4 / Lois Teicher

These pieces, spare and geometric, possess a strange magnetism, they enthrall like the true solar/lunar eclipse stages the works represent. Or, perhaps they form a gravity-well that pulls the viewer in. But like the surface of a black hole, their surface remains satisfyingly, infinitely featureless regardless of how near you bring your eye to them. The intensity of these works seems to create an immeasurably slow vortex that impels you nearer and nearer, promising horrible, terminal ecstasy if your fall persists.

Lois Teicher

Three Orange Shapes (foreground) and Two Round Shapes (background) / Lois Teicher

Between these works, several others stand on pedestals, with their cool fashion model elegance on vivid display. These too pull you nearer, as your brain struggles to fit their delicate, kinetic geometry into an ancestral, archetypal frame of reference. They won’t fit, but your brain keeps trying, a windup toy bumping into the wall. It feels good, like synaptic gymnastics.

Marie Woo

Orange Bowl, Large / Marie Woo

Back toward the rear of the gallery, the ceramics of Marie Woo gather around you. They beckon like muses and your eye darts around from one piece to the next, like a child in a forest glade surrounded by wonderful flowers, pinecones, and fungi. But focus on one; look close. Each piece occupies its own little place in Ms. Woo’s universe with a character all its own. A large, orange bowl, rightly called Orange Bowl, Large will catch your eye. It seems forlorn at first, riddled with imperfections, but then you appreciate the imperfections as part of its charm.

Marie Woo

stack / Marie Woo

A flapjack like stack of warped, undulating, topsoil-toned, ceramic discs appears as a monumental mushroom from the child’s enchanted forest — you become that wide-eyed child when you encounter work like this (at least you should).

Marie Woo

Winter / Marie Woo

Nearby sits an outsized clutch of insect eggs, Winter, that form an oddly compelling bracelet in non-reflective color, gradating from blackish on top to greenish underneath. They look nourishing somehow. Over on the wall hang six wall pieces that appear as ancient and unknowable glyphs, all in those dark, subterranean, almost mystical tones. Beside these, two shelves offer seven more pieces, one a dark little totem with untold powers, the rest more traditional pottery.

Marie Woo

wall pieces / Marie Woo

Finally, in a screening room, a short video of ceramic creation projects on a large, grid-like ceramic piece with protruding hemispheres randomly placed in the grid. The irregular surface distorts the projected image with novel effects, but the whole thing might work better out in the main gallery with the other work (despite the diminished brightness). As it is, it feels a bit isolated, but worth a look.

Kay Young

Photographs by featured artist, S. Kay Young

And do not forget to spend time with the photographs of DAM’s featured artist, S. Kay Young. These 21 images offer close in shots of woodland details that might escape the undiscerning eye during a romp through the forest. The colors and contrast of these earth-toned images will engage the viewer to an unexpected degree, and might inspire them to take closer notice of their surroundings. Pick up one of her prints, and support a local artist.

Observe Ms. Woo’s ceramics, resting opposite those energetic, intense, cryptic works of Ms. Luchs, and adjacent to the forceful, monolithic pieces by Ms. Teicher: you feel an ethereal sense of balance and unforced grace, an unquantifiable harmony. That’s a credit to the artists, but also to Gary Eleinko, the curator. Nice work.

DAM will present an artist talk moderated by Sharon Zimmerman of the Kresge Foundation on 1-February (2-4PM) — be there if you want some stirring insights into the work herein and tales of the Detroit art scene.

 

Please have a look at our site, artifizz.org, and check out our other reviews.

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 *******

January 24, 2014

Wayne State University MFA 1 Thesis Exhibition

by Jim Welke

IMG_4395

Raise your hand if you visited a student art exhibition in the last year. Well? Well, this writer might have kept his hands in his pockets, but for the MFA graduate show in the Wayne State Community Arts Art Department Gallery (Wayne State University MFA 1 Thesis Exhibition: part 1 of 2, part 2 opens 14-Feb).

The gallery extends long and narrow with a north-facing wall of glass that offers a first-class view of the McGregor Reflecting Pool (which appears as a scene from Dr. Zhivago this time of year). Most of the light in the gallery comes from that cool northern glow reflected off snow and flatters the work therein.

Clara W. DeGalan

Free Storm Hush in the Neighborhood II / Clara W. DeGalan

Clara W. DeGalan, a Detroit native, finesses large charcoal drawings with skill that astonishes. Charcoal can be messy, and to create large, detailed works that consist of more than a few broad sweeps must be a daunting task. But she does it over and over. Free Storm Hush in the Neighborhood II offers that sense of natural harmony and balance you might find in a pastoral landscape, but instead it shows a collection of buildings intersected by a chain link fence and overhead wires — it feels urban, but the buildings appear non-descript enough that they could be outbuildings on a farm. Snow covers the scene and no humans complicate the view with their tendency to obstruct serenity.

Passed This Way Before / Clara W. DeGalan

Passed This Way Before / Clara W. DeGalan

But there’s something else hovering in another dimension of Ms. DeGalan’s work. All her works here, at first glance, feel serene and the figurative pictures bring the warmth — or heat — you get from human close-ups. And then you sense an Edgar Allen Poe-esque, Gothic-novel, sinister presence. Her painting, Passed This Way Before, which appears to show a mirror standing in an sun-dappled alley way or street, surrounded by a lush growth of bushes and trees with a tall building in the distant background, and another building reflected in the mirror. The picture, executed in gentle, blurry brushstrokes and diluted colors, feels comforting. Yet, like a well-placed metaphor in a short story, that inexplicable reflection and the sharp angular washes of light and shadow somehow suggest either foreboding or a dark memory.

June 1982 (The Kiss) / Clara W. DeGalan

June 1982 (The Kiss) / Clara W. DeGalan

June 1982 (The Kiss) creates a similar baleful sense of mystery. Who kisses the girl in the pool? Why does the woman kissing the girl wear all white? What does she hold in her other hand, the one obscured by her uniform-like dress? Why does the girl have the pool all to herself? Aside from the girl and the woman, the scene fills with contrasting angles; a restrictive crosshatched wall behind them. The picture feels documentary, like a snapshot, a fleeting moment in time that leaves the viewer wondering about the prologue and epilogue. Or so this writer sees it. Maybe the dark is not there at all, but when you get up close to these works you sense complexity. That much is sure.

 

*******

Beard Triptych 2 / Alex Drummer

Beard Triptych 2 / Alex Drummer

Alex Drummer earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Metalworking. For his master’s thesis show, he presents a series of knitted beard triptychs that surely set a mind to wondering. The knit work appears well made, and one needs to be impressed that a man who pursued metalworking with such assiduous application might as easily take up knitting. So there’s that.

Alex Drummer

Beard Triptych 4 / Alex Drummer

But why knitted beards? Well we all wear costumes and disguises to get through our difficult lives, and we change those costumes and disguises as circumstance requires. Flanking each of the five knitted beards mounted on boards, Mr. Drummer presents photographs of men and women wearing the beards, hence triptychs. The unnaturally colored beards, almost like witty commentary on the fashion of such beards in some circles, conceal the faces of the wearers to the point of obscuring their identifying features, even their sex — women wearing beards? Perhaps Mr. Drummer suggests more than mere social disguises here, but something of general utility to hide us from the Orwellian eyes of our burgeoning surveillance state? Perhaps a comment on controlling religious codes that require beards for men, or head coverings for women? As a playful nod to the inevitable question: What would I look like in one of those? Mr. Drummer offers Portrait Beard 2, which allow the visitor to prop themselves before a suspended knit beard and view themselves in a mirror. These are fun works, but not so lightly dismissed if you ponder the underlying motivation for their making.

 

Alex Drummer

Portrait Beard 2 / Alex Drummer

*******

Emilee Arter offers big, sculptural works formed of various natural and synthetic fabrics along with tape and other fasteners. These pieces will likely mystify the viewer on first approach — the drapes and folds confront the viewer with seemingly chaotic turmoil. Yet as one gazes into them, you sense harmony, a balance created by non-random forces, a stasis that which naturally occurs in ecological niches with their hard won, long-evolved symbiotic relationships. And then there are the titles, which for certain were labored over for precise tonal affect like spare lines in a poem.

Emilee Arter

His Prediction was a Question, Not a Statement / Emilee Arter

His Prediction was a Question, Not a Statement is a title the visitor can sink their teeth into. And the work offers the least cohesive assembly of the collection from Ms. Arter, as though the work were something else once, and now represents the aftermath of the prediction misinterpreted, an explosion with woeful consequences of lost opportunity.

I’ll Never Forget Last September / Emilee Arter

I’ll Never Forget Last September / Emilee Arter

I’ll Never Forget Last September inevitably forces the visitor to contemplate their own Septembers. This writer immediately remembered a camping trip on the shore of Lake Superior and a night deluged by rain that left belongings floating in the old tent. One can see this work as that tent, dashed asunder. Or not. The plastics and dark, almost internal organ-like colors will elicit a multitude of reactions. But the September that it will most universally summons is that infamous September day, the eleventh of 2001.

Conquest / Emilee Arter

Conquest / Emilee Arter

Conquest, oddly, given its title, feels like the gentlest work presented by Ms. Arter. Burlap sacks with various printed source and content declarations fold and drape to reach an off-center pinnacle with a banner-like strand extending outward like those colorful banners atop medieval circus tents. Shredded and tumultuous toward the interior, the burlap at the boundaries forms flowing arcs that feel almost musical, thus perhaps that sensation of a caress rather than a slap. This works also seems to offer commentary on global consumerist trade and the piles of detritus it creates, detritus that often ends up floating on the surface of oceans, swirled and nudged into forms echoing those here. Find your own path into this work, but give it time. Abstraction provokes unique associations in every viewer. That’s the fun — and challenge — of it. Treat yourself. Go see these and the other works in the show.

Wayne State University MFA 1 Thesis Exhibition runs through 7 February. The second half opens 14-February.

 

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October 4, 2013

Stretch the Strangle Hold — Artists Against War

by Jim Welke

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Stretch the Strangle Hold - Artists Against War, on thru 5-October 2013 at 4731 Gallery (4731 Grand River) in Detroit begins with the following message of intent:

Inspired by my painting, Stretch the Strangle Hold, I sought out help to achieve the goal of bringing like-minded artists of all disciplines together to speak out against the lie of war. This group exhibit features many artists from around greater Detroit. Our goal for this show is to raise awareness at the local and national level to send a message that war is not the most effective solution.
- Joe Lovett, curator

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Stretch the Strangle Hold / Joe Lovett

The show includes works in various media by Catherine Peet, Madeline Barkey, Victor Pytko, Eric Mesko, David Mikesell, Sergio De Giusti, Lynn Galbreath, Marilyn Zimmerwoman, Jon Parlangeli, David Fischer, Jeanne Bieri, Donald Mendelson, Linda Allen, and Joe Lovett.

When you enter the room, this show immediately feels big like a cathedral. You slip into an awestruck contemplative mood, with a constant edge of pissed off. At least this writer did. If you despise war and the people who conspire to incite it you will likely feel the same. Yet, none of the imagery or sculpture in this show are gut wrenchingly graphic. That fact explains the power this show harnesses. You feel pissed off because so much of the form and imagery looms there with astonishing familiarity. Seeing it here, in an art gallery, stops you dead in your tracks. You wonder why the hell we put up with it. Why do we allow such grotesque brutality? One answer might lie in a quote pasted up beside David Mikesell’s Living In Trenches:

“I have not washed for a week, or had my boots off for a fortnight. …It just serves my …barbaric disposition and I have never enjoyed anything so much.” — Captain Julian Grenfell, letter to parents, 1914. He died of wounds in 1915, age 27.

Blinded by Gas Attack (top) / Living in Trenches (bottom) / David Mikesell

Blinded by Gas Attack (top) / Living in Trenches (bottom) / David Mikesell

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Walking Wounded / David Mikesell

There are those who greet war eagerly, who commit barbarity blithely, who relish the adrenalin buzz of combat. If you doubt, read some first hand accounts of war. Many more quotes like the one above linger like the smell of dog shit in our collective consciousness. And then there are those ostensible leaders who send others — reluctant participants — to war with the anticipation of glory and riches. To the instigators go glory and riches. Warriors get scant recompense. Most reluctant warriors bear scars from wounds they rarely mention. And their reticence to speak of nightmarish experiences impoverishes civilians. We should hear more from former warriors; they constitute the majority, and with sobering consistency advise avoidance of war.

Flower Gun Power / Linda Allen

Flower Gun Power / Linda Allen

But if we heard from them, would we heed them? The argument to urge us into war always comes down to “us against them” — hollow patriotism rallied by profiteering demagogues. You’re either with us, or you’re against us. You’re either one of us, or you’re one of them. You either defend our sacred national honor and fragile borders, or you tear both down and let the pagan hordes descend on our women and children, rape and enslave our tender innocents. Yet in the end, after the smoke clears — the infamous fog of war that obscures the barbarity — we discover it was about somebody else’s money and power; somebody other than the warriors compelled to fight; somebody other than the families compelled to consign their flesh and blood to horrible, needless death; somebody other than the citizens compelled to commit their treasure.

Same Story Same Game / Catherine Peet

Same Story Same Game / Catherine Peet

Story Teller / Catherine Peet

Story Teller / Catherine Peet

Here’s the original quote by Edmund Burke, the one apparently so often misquoted:

No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united Cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

 

The Dove of Peace / Eric Mesko

The Dove of Peace / Eric Mesko

The Dove of Peace / Eric Mesko (detail)

The Dove of Peace / Eric Mesko (detail)

You’ll find at 4731 a phalanx of artwork combined against warwork: paintings, sculpture, photographs, mixed-media. Several pieces incorporate squadrons of those little plastic “army men” and other “toys” we drop into the hands of our children as prelude to merciless shredding of their innocence. Some works show scenes from our infamous past, matter-of-factly presented with that aforementioned unsettling sense of familiarity: Mr. Mikesell’s meticulously rendered World War One scenes, not frenetic battles but the walking wounded, men blinded by gas, in a line gripping the shoulder of the man in front as guide; or the inside of trenches where soldiers slept — all presented in soft hues and precise brushstrokes that remind one of Norman Rockwell’s gentle scenes of American domestic tranquility, except these show us horrors we never should have witnessed; and Jeanne Bieri, with a series of black and white photos, bleached from age. In one, a child wears a gas mask as a taller sister, outfitted with similar military fixtures stands aside, cut off at the shoulders as though ascending from the scene, leaving the child to suffocate alone in well-intentioned but likely ill-fitted, ineffective protective armor.

Hawaiian Child in a Gas Mask / Jeanne Bieri

Hawaiian Child in a Gas Mask / Jeanne Bieri

After Trayvon / Marilyn Zimmerwoman

After Trayvon / Marilyn Zimmerwoman

Other artists offer war imagery transposed as surreal pageantry; the familiar rendered strange, like David Fischer’s After the Bomb, an eerie glass bomb shell with grass growing inside. Marilyn Zimmerwoman offers “Time” magazine covers with Trayvon Martin’s empty hoodie superimposed over cryptic, mirrored text (“We spend a lot of time / On a few great things. / Until every idea we touch / Enhances each life it touches.”); or China’s imperial ascendance — “THE WORLD ACCORDING TO CHINA”; and a luxe wristwatch and reclining leopard; ghostly figures holding reversed signs that read, “Aids is going to lose,” all rendered translucent and exposed to lucid scrutiny like x-ray films. Perhaps a bit off topic, but then again given the pressure of commerce, geopolitics, and the warped apartheid culture Americans inhabit, perhaps these scenes represent inevitable precursors to war, the signs and symbols that provoke it.

Girls / Madeleine Barkey

Girls / Madeleine Barkey

Madeleine Barkey gives us Girls and Boy: nude schematics of children with target circles on their heads and torsos. Eric Mesko’s Dove of Peace, a collage of war clippings, including a New York Times roster of dead soldiers fronted by a diaphanous skull on a colonial pillar wearing a helmet wrapped in barbed wire, topped by a duck that grips an olive branch in its beak (a send up of that American eagle vainly clutching the ubiquitous olive branch). Catherine Peet brings ghostly dioramas embellished with mysterious icons alongside the Statue of Liberty; or a skeletal, lute-playing jester encircled by those tiny, ubiquitous army men painted in garish colors; or the exotic bird, Horned Plundious with blood seeming to issue from its beak. Linda Allen shows a 19th or early 20th century battle scene painting where lush faux flowers and hearts spontaneously pop from the barrels of guns and between the lurching soldiers’ feet. Sergio De Giusti’s sculpture Hanging Body Bags of Babylon (altarpiece) shows hanging, shrouded corpses and men lugging more to the scene in a creepy, almost biblical bas-relief. Donald Mendelson’s Dogs at Work depicts a desert battle scene, pyramid in the background, with gas-mask clad soldiers led by a colossal dog and followed by can-can dancers. Jon Parlangeli’s The Draft shows a negative image of men marched off at gunpoint as colored shards of confetti descend around them.

Mad Men / Victor Pytko

Mad Men / Victor Pytko

Mad Men / Victor Pytko (detail)

Mad Men / Victor Pytko (detail)

And Victor Pytko’s Mad Men, an installation placed in the center of the main gallery forms the shape of a bomb — conventional ordinance perhaps, or maybe an incendiary device designed to engulf in flames beings and buildings alike, or it could represent the ultimate destructive invention, an atomic bomb. There it sits in the middle of the room, plastered over with diminutive, surging, leaping army men, toy guns and grenades, and doll heads, all painted over in flat black spray. On the flattened, square tail end, Mr. Pytko added a diaphanous painting of a man convulsed in terror or pain (face reminiscent of General Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executing a Viet Cong Prisoner — that gruesome street execution in Saigon).

After the Bomb / David Fischer

After the Bomb / David Fischer

The Draft / Jon Parlangeli

The Draft / Jon Parlangeli

Soldier with Cat / Donald Mendelson

War With Peace / Jon Parlangeli

In abstract work by Donald Mendelson, Lynn Galbreath, Jon Parlangeli, and Joe Lovett toxic, gassy nebulae, and fracture figures in abrasive color or clinical grays ascend from canvases, sculpture, and mixed-media to assault our sleepy complacency. Joe Lovett’s eponymous Stretch the Strangle Hold suggests Picasso’s Guernica with nearly similar dimensions, gray tones, and tumbling images, but updated with modern war machinery and a shred of American flag painted in color. Overall, the scene feels less imbued with pure fury, but more of a diffuse, implacable sorrow. Yellow Brick Road, by Mr. Parlangeli, also suggests Guernica with cubist polygons, exaggerated features, and of course those bull horns, but Mr. Parlangeli used color to enforce the dramatic impact of the horrible human chaos he depicts with no shortage of pointless fury. Lynn Galbreath’s Hello Tokyo uses Godzilla, ensnared by a serpent, astride an all-terrain vehicle, and overrun by hordes of human attackers, painted in pallid green tones, and overlaid with block letters spelling out “FALSEHOODS, LIES, CONTRADICTIONS.” Indeed. It seems she presents an amalgam of propagandistic icons under assault here… or to another viewer something else, but clearly an indictment of human folly that ends with war.

The Hanging Body Bags of Babylon (altarpiece) / Sergio De Giusti

The Hanging Body Bags of Babylon (altarpiece) / Sergio De Giusti

Stretch the Strangle Hold - Artists Against War is timely and important, and populated with quality work well worth a look. Cheers to 4731 Gallery, the curator Joe Lovett, and the artists who used their prodigious talent to comment on a topic worthy of scathing commentary.

Drunk Tank Pink / Lynn Galbreath

Drunk Tank Pink / Lynn Galbreath

Just Ducky / Lynn Galbreath

Just Ducky / Lynn Galbreath

Hello Tokyo // Lynn Galbreath

Hello Tokyo / Lynn Galbreath

Dogs At Work / Donald Mendelson

Dogs At Work / Donald Mendelson

Dogs At Work / Donald Mendelson

Dogs At Work / Donald Mendelson (detail)

Yellow Brick Road / Jon Parlangeli

Yellow Brick Road / Jon Parlangeli

Jeanne Bieri

Jeanne Bieri

Boy / Madeleine Barkey

Boy / Madeleine Barkey

Stretch the Strangle Hold / Joe Lovett (detail)

Stretch the Strangle Hold / Joe Lovett (detail)

Stretch the Strangle Hold / Joe Lovett (detail)

Stretch the Strangle Hold / Joe Lovett (detail)

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June 25, 2013

Black Abstract — Mary Ann Aitken — 1983-2011

By Jim Welke

What Pipeline -- Detroit

What Pipeline — Detroit

Divided between two galleries, Black Abstract, an exhibition of works by Mary Ann Aitken, opened on 7-June-2013. Artifizz got to the show during the ArtDetroitNow monthly gallery crawl known as Third Thursday, which as the name implies happens every third Thursday of the month; the initial one back in February 2013.

Logically, one would first visit What Pipeline, a new gallery on Vernor in Mexican Town at 24th Street. What Pipeline presents Aitken’s earlier work (1983-1989). During this time, she worked in Detroit, acutely aware of and in proximity to Cass Corridor and its notable artists. Her studio resided on the fourth floor of the Cary Building, at the corner of Gratiot & Broadway. Yet she was not strictly a part of the Cass Corridor movement — her work took shape as offspring of that notable Detroit phenomenon with shared traits, but not identical DNA.

Due to the logistics of Third Thursday gallery navigation, this writer took in Aitken’s show in reverse, starting at Trinosophes on Gratiot, just north of Russel Street. Taking on the work in reverse chronological order might have been the right approach. On entering Trinosophes, one sees an assortment of paintings, but also several dense mixed-media works. Formed as rectangles, these pieces consist of what appears to be tar, like the kind they layer onto wharves to protect them from the onslaught of destructive, burrowing sea worms. The surface of Aitken’s work appears sticky, just like the wharves, and embedded in the tar you can see various manifestations of the sea such as tiny snails, lobster shells (cracked open, as though discarded from a meal), small stones, and stems and leaves of plants. In these nascent fossil-like accretions, one senses that the artist felt compelled to convey the notion of relentless reclamation by nature. Everything we see and touch exists in a state of perpetual transformation.

mixed-media 2007-2011

mixed-media 2007-2011

At the time she made these works, the artist faced the late stages of a fatal cancer. Knowledge of her imminent demise may have compelled her to say with these works, “Look. Look at what happens. You won’t escape it. So embrace it, and don’t waste time.”

But the show is not about futility. The later works convey urgency; a yearning to capture aspects of the world the artist saw with clarity, yet struggled to express with the inevitably inadequate materials at hand. One senses the same urgency in works as diverse as those by Vincent van Gogh, Georg Baselitz, Jackson Pollock. This same level of urgency one does not see in the more precise representational works of earlier individualistic revolutions in art beginning with Mannerism, then Romanticism, even Impressionism which all sought to emphasize the artist’s point of view, but conformed to established representational ideals of the time.

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Established ideals notwithstanding, artist point of view took on new importance. To quote a bit on Romanticism from the ever helpful Wikipedia:

According to Isaiah Berlin, Romanticism embodied “a new and restless spirit, seeking violently to burst through old and cramping forms, a nervous preoccupation with perpetually changing inner states of consciousness, a longing for the unbounded and the indefinable, for perpetual movement and change, an effort to return to the forgotten sources of life, a passionate effort at self-assertion both individual and collective, a search after means of expressing an unappeasable yearning for unattainable goals.”[16]

Aitken’s art springs from that now ancient but no less compelling frustration with the gap between what eyes see and hearts feel, and what applied media express. One senses that certain artists perceive things most of us never will, yet could never perfectly express the manifestations of their senses and, once enveloped by that dichotomy, confronted torment.

2007-2011

Looking back to Romanticism, it seems the very definition of who pursued artistic expression changed. Moving towards industrialization and urbanism, one no longer needed devoted patrons, or to be a denizen of the royal court — to cultivate business connections — one did not need to paint hagiographic religious imagery, flattering portraits of aristocracy, Greek mythological melodrama, or pleasant landscapes anymore. From that point forward, more solipsistic, more turbulent personalities indulged in artistic expression — at their peril, of course, because they still had to earn a living. But at least a down-class artistic aspirant could get off the farm and into the city and find other artists, galleries, museums, and myriad sources of inspiration. That led to wild turmoil for art throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and onward.

Of course, the above elucidation strays into the overbroad — even goes overboard. There were a lot of wrinkles in the progression from Mannerism in the early 1500’s to Romanticism in the early 1800’s to Impressionism in the late 1800’s. But after all that, we come to Expressionism, which finally renders the artist’s state of mind transcendent. Expressionism, from Wikipedia:

The Expressionists had many influences, among them Edvard Munch, Vincent van Gogh, and African art.[20] They were also aware of the work being done by the Fauves in Paris, who influenced Expressionism’s tendency toward arbitrary colours and jarring compositions. In reaction and opposition to French Impressionism, which emphasized the rendering of the visual appearance of objects, Expressionist artists sought to portray emotions and subjective interpretations. It was not important to reproduce an aesthetically pleasing impression of the artistic subject matter, they felt, but rather to represent vivid emotional reactions by powerful colours and dynamic compositions. Kandinsky, the main artist of Der Blaue Reiter group, believed that with simple colours and shapes the spectator could perceive the moods and feelings in the paintings, a theory that encouraged him towards increased abstraction.

Aitken, one might argue, falls into the category (if she must fall into a category) of Neo-Expressionism, which:

… developed as a reaction against the conceptual art and minimal art of the 1970s. Neo-expressionists returned to portraying recognizable objects, such as the human body (although sometimes in an abstract manner), in a rough and violently emotional way using vivid colours and banal colour harmonies.

Take a look at what George Baselitz did, and you might spot some parallels to Aitken. That said, many of her works could appropriately be called Abstract Expressionism, but to this writer her work often diverges from the “emphasis on spontaneous, automatic or subconscious creation” inherent in Abstract Expressionism.

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Aitken’s gestures in her painting, although they often feel a little haphazard, more often feel deliberate, as though she had something very specific in mind she struggled to convey. Labels probably do not matter. Surely they would not have mattered to Aitken, although with her formal art education — BA Fine Art (1983), MA Art Therapy(1989), Wayne State University — she certainly knew them well. To look at her work, one realizes right away that she did not paint to be part of a clique; to please gallery operators; to be pigeonholed in market categories.

She painted for her own edification, and when you observe her layered, re-worked brush strokes you realize she was not likely edified; at least not in her early work.

 

Untitled (white abstract), 1989

Untitled (white abstract), 1989

Some of her early work does reveal a sense of completion, of being finished to her satisfaction.

Untitled (red building), 1989

Untitled (red building), 1989

 

Iron, 1989

Iron, 1989

A degree of calm refinement, a restraint less prevalent in most of her painting, appears in some of her watercolors from the same period. The grace of her work projects unmistakably.

Untitled (brown leaves), 1989

Untitled (brown leaves), 1989

 

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In her later work, her frenetic tendencies persist, but she seems more willing to get down what she could, and leave it alone. Maybe not call it done, but move on. Time was getting short, and she knew it.

Her inkjet photo prints, mostly done between 2007 and 2011, present an elegiac atmosphere of melancholy, but at the same time express her pervasive sense of wonder at the world, possibly a world most can not, or do not bother to see. The images of flowers shot at the New York Botanical Garden appear washed out, leaving only bleached remnants of their former colors — she saw the real glory of them, but artistic renderings ultimately give us this anemic representation she insists.

2007-2011

2007-2011

The images of friends and family in outdoor settings share the same time-tempered quality; gradual decay infuses them, as though to look at these images is to witness that reclamation of all things by nature that her psyche must have been imbued with to the point almost of distraction.

2007-2011

2007-2011

 

2007-2011

2007-2011

Some viewers may be tempted to dismiss or trivialize her work, but that would be a mistake, indicating too narrow a view. Take in the entire exhibition, slowly. Study the deliberately but carefully distressed photographs; the refined simple watercolors; the forceful intensity of her painting. Wonder at those tar impastos — think about what forms tar, how long it takes, and what she embedded in it. Mary Ann Aitken embodied both a joyful spirit inspired by experience of her universe and the pressure of melancholy imposed by the realization that the lush beauty that surrounds us does not persist. If you look closely at her work, you can’t help gaining a bit more appreciation of the world we inhabit, and the blink-of-an-eye brevity of our existence.

Do not pass up the chance to experience a mostly unrecognized shred of Detroit history — visit Mary Ann Aitken’s work Black Abstract 1983-2011 at What Pipeline and Trinosophes thru 7-July-2013, curated by Aitken’s longtime friend Ed Fraga, Rebecca Mazzei (Trinosophes), Alivia Zivich (What Pipeline), and Daniel Sperry (What Pipeline).

Also, do not miss the outstanding catalogue on sale.

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June 16, 2013

Detroit Print Exchange 2012 — 4731 Gallery Detroit

4731 Gallery, Detroit

4731 Gallery, Detroit

by Jim Welke

Detroit Print Exchange 2012 (on FB) (website) opened at 4731 Gallery tonight (15-June-2013) on the stretch of Grand River Avenue now known as the Grand River Creative Corridor partly thanks to 4731 (their address on same).

Grand River Creative Corridor

Grand River Creative Corridor

A sizable crowd poured into the gallery, where the atmospherics were amped-up by DJ Super Will and an open bar. But the atmospherics mattered less than the art on the walls. First, you should know the premise of the show. According to 4731’s event announcement on Facebook:

20 artists were selected for participation in a themed portfolio of works to be exhibited at the 4731 Gallery in Detroit. The portfolio features a myriad of traditional printmaking, photography and mixed media work. …

Chosen artists were notified in January of their selection and given three months to create work on the theme “The time we cannot meet”. Tasked with creating an edition of 25 pieces for exchange, the show serves as a way to link artists regardless of geography, and build connections to the city of Detroit as an emerging art Capital. Chosen Artists hail from Tempe AZ to Salthill Ireland and anywhere between.

The Detroit Print Exchange was established in 2012, by Andrew Hawkes as a way to build a community among like minded artists who were separated by geography. As a two-part exhibition in September the show moves to New York, announcement for those dates are coming soon. The exhibition is curated by Hawkes along with Sarah Ayers and Nicholas Mark.

The pictures were spread out over several rooms, well spaced; with a big crowd all the works were still accessible. Each picture seemed to occupy its own niche, and this felt appropriate given the scope of the show. Be prepared, with an effort to give each artist a fraction of due appreciation this story runs long.

After signing the guest book and receiving drink tickets from the affable Juan Carlos Perez, a working photographer who manned the door on this night, a straight path in might lead you to a photograph; a self-portrait by Felicity Palma. A nude, shot reflected in a mirror, the picture captures a woman in a pose that suggests classical marble sculpture, her arm thrown back across her eyes as though shielding herself. But the photo presents her image in a mirror, and the mirror occupies only half of the frame. The other half shows a bare wall, old and a bit rundown. Her pose, and her image fleetingly captured as though she arrived and departed that room of undefined purpose alone, aptly suggests the theme of the show “The time we cannot meet.”

Untitled (Self-Portrait) : Felicity Palma

Untitled (Self-Portrait) : Felicity Palma

Across the room, Miska Draskoczy, offers a more explicit explanation for a meeting deferred: bloodied remnants of a car crash and a life strewn on the ground, including a New York license plate; a crimson shoe; a lipstick, cap off, extended; a wallet, folded open, with a picture exposed of the lower half of a woman’s face, the bisected portrait spattered in blood. One wonders what narrative led her to such a regrettable end.

A Time We Cannot Meet: Miska Draskoczy

A Time We Cannot Meet: Miska Draskoczy

Nate Abromowski brought a car into his photograph, too. (With the gallery situated in Detroit, were cars on especially on the minds of the far-flung artists?) But in this case, the car sits alone, lights on, presumably idling in a vacant parking lot underneath foreboding gray skies. That eerie light that precedes a thunderstorm seems to illuminate an otherwise simple scene with an electrified sense of possibility — or possibility evaporated by a missed connection.

Untitled: Nate Abromowski

Untitled: Nate Abromowski

Robert Andy Coombs puts a witty spin on “the time we cannot meet.” He shows a man with mascara tears running down his cheeks as he reclines theatrically in sheer lingerie and holds an old fashioned rococo French phone far from his ear, as though he tragically discovered that an expected or unexpected rendezvous will or will not happen. The melodrama of the scene makes you laugh, but a jagged melancholy edge of alienation rips at you too.

From the Lady Boy Series: Robert Andy Coombs

From the Lady Boy Series: Robert Andy Coombs

Jonni Cheatwood presents a bride and groom, done up in their wedding gear and holding hands, but smears of paint obscure their faces — daubed over the bride, and poured over the groom. The background looks like those backdrops with the horizontal bars that indicate height in police lineups. What the hell happened here? Sorry. The happy couple regrets they will not attend the reception, the police hauled them downtown. Notably, the groom’s left hand seems handcuffed to another’s hand. This photo evokes unmitigated mystery and enervates the viewer a bit.

Untitled: Jonni Cheatwood

Untitled: Jonni Cheatwood

Rosamaría Zamarrón gives us “Kismet,” a collage on arches paper where she placed two Polaroid images peeled from their backing and tattered in the process, set over a circular coffee cup imprint. The images show that metallic, blue-y, underwater characteristic that infuses Polaroid images, which aside from their wickedly high cost and bulky, battery-eating cameras, likely contributed to their extinction. The shots used here seem cheerful enough — the subjects show contented half smiles — except the man and woman appear at opposite sides of the same table, but not together. Each occupies their little crumpled image alone, as though incomplete and not quite aware of it. The coffee stain at the bottom emphasizes what may have been a long and fruitless wait by both of them.

Kismet: Rosamaría Zamarrón

Kismet: Rosamaría Zamarrón

Aimee Brasseur Bentley, with “outside looking in,” presents a smiling, but imploring woman in an over-inflated tulle-skirted gown extends a hand to a child in an equally puffy gown. Normal enough. Except both cling to a red cord, and float several feet off the ground. Not normal at all, surreal in fact. And you sense that something disquieting goes on here, that the woman may not be all that good, nor the child all that childish. The pale, ethereal aura of the image enforces the sense that we see something rare.

outside looking in: Aimee Brasseur Bentley

outside looking in: Aimee Brasseur Bentley

Eno Laget, with “till we have faces,” produced perhaps the most elaborate piece. Not that steals thunder, but seems to convey this artist’s creative mode: layers of inspiration build to impart meaning. At first glance, the notion that this work fits the theme, “The time we cannot meet,” might elude you, but in fact it does fit. A pair of prints (two that cannot meet?) fit together into a frame secured by ancient hand cut nails that prop the prints in place. The artist formed the frame from an old orange and white reflective road construction barrier. A pocket centered in the front of one print contains a folded road map. The title card invites the viewer to interact (beside which Mr. Laget penned the words “artspeak for ‘touch me’.”) If you do interact and unfold the map on the table provided, you see a painted over roadmap. On one side, a colossus-like Robocop points a gun into the foreground. On the flip side, an image of Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) adjacent to a pasted in description of a harrowing day in which his home was fire bombed, his clothes reeked, his lungs ached from the smoke, he had not slept, and he was due to give a keynote speech at Ford Auditorium in Detroit that night.  All this a week before his assination. One of the two prints that inserts in the frame could be an image of Christ (or some other martyred, mythological figure), the other of Mr. Laget self-portrayed with ram horns (or Dwennimmen, a West African symbol for strength paired with humility) and the gaze of a seer. The collection of imagery here — Malcolm X, the misguided but determined gunman, mythological martyr, Mr. Laget — jumble together to form intersections in time that did happen and should not have, and did not happen but possibly should have. So this writer reads it. No matter how you interpret this piece, its maps and images will send you on journey worth taking.

till we have faces: Eno Laget

till we have faces: Eno Laget

till we have faces: Eno Laget

till we have faces: Eno Laget

till we have faces: Eno Laget

till we have faces: Eno Laget

Danielle Burns offers a spare picture of a man grimacing, hand gripping the back of his head. Behind him two children play on the ground in what could be a junkyard, or a back yard cluttered with old engine blocks. The man wears a sweatshirt and fur cap, while the children kneel shirtless on the soil. Is this a man leaving  behind an opportunity to meet, or recalling a meeting that never quite transpired as expected? It seems unclear, but either way you sense anguish.

Untitled: Danielle Burns

Untitled: Danielle Burns

Jennifer Belair’s silkscreen shows the face of the same man three times, with Cubist eyes, as though glimpsed in passing, topped by a gray and black miasma of what might be thoughts choked with memories of figures, places, and words (as characters embedded therein). The man appears to have clownish daubs of paint on his cheeks like a clown would do with red for blush, but these are mostly pale white and he wears a frown. Below him, an almost silhouetted village looms up. The man appears banished from the village and haunted by those murky memories. Meetings in that town permanently postponed. The title of Belair’s work reads, “erinner sie sich” (should that be “erinnern”?), which translates to English as “they remember.”

Erinnern Sie Sich: Jennifer Belair

Erinnern Sie Sich: Jennifer Belair

Eimear Jean McCormack created an abstract serigraph (a print made by the silk-screen process) for the show with intersecting planes of color overlaid with a wire-frame cube the lines of which transition in color as they cross from one plane to another. The colors here suggest almost a negative of a mountain profile. Or an overhead view of a shoreline. Or neither. But the artist chose “Firmament” for the title so the notion of terra firma lingers. This image feels a bit inscrutable, the opposing planes might be a minimalist means of implying the thematic unmet meeting. That cube almost but not quite penetrating the boundary between the planes further reinforces the notion of a meeting not quite realized.

Firmament: Eimear Jean McCormack

Firmament: Eimear Jean McCormack

Renee Willoughby’s “Darling, there’s no such thing as purity” brings a digitally composed abstraction which includes a reclining female figure draped in a gauzy fabric along with a series of geometric images, a series of mathematical-seeming glyphs, and a pyramid-shaped, ray-imprinted outpouring of handwritten prose. A nebulous cloud fills the background, and film-labeling frames the entire image to give a sense of antiquated decay. The image clips the prose streaming from the woman’s fingertips so the narrative becomes broken chatter as though from a talking doll with internal dysfunction. But a sense of motion pervades this image, like objects in orbit that seem destined to collide, but never do and instead circle forever. Meeting forgone.

Darling, there’s no such thing as purity: Renee Willoughby

Darling, there’s no such thing as purity: Renee Willoughby

Tisch Mikhail Lewis presents an image that can trick your eye like those old pictures one sees of a wineglass that suddenly becomes two women. It actually seems sometimes in motion. But the artist created her image with much more subtlety than that. As the image resolves, you see the gentle face of a woman that appears to rest on a flower, and above her a more stern visage of a man drawn in finer detail and printed with a rectangular background, as though a fading snapshot to preserve the equally fading memory of the woman. An arm seems to embrace the woman and the flower and hold the scene together, but possibly it hangs heavy, limp, and lifeless. Black lines on a white field dominate the image, while flowing red echoes some of those lines, and to this viewer suggested spilled blood, as though violence separated these two.

What Do You Know? Tisch Mikhail Lewis

What Do You Know? Tisch Mikhail Lewis

Jared C. Tyler’s photograph shows what appear to be the remnants of violence and bloodshed too, but infused with fantastic detail that sends the mind into an imagined place. A woman, prone on what appears to be a sort of purplish industrial flooring, grips a clot colored, stylized skull. Black, oily smoke rises from one eye-socket of the skull and throughout the image brilliant, blurred, particles descend all around like the glittering particles of frozen condensation that peal away from a launched spacecraft, banal yet somehow fascinating. The wide-open eyes of the woman seem to tell us she died along with the owner of the skull, and we witness the melancholy scene of a Romeo and Juliet-like conclusion.

Untitled: Jared C. Tyler

Untitled: Jared C. Tyler

Georgina Rutherford creates an etching that seems to present night and day views of a surreal landscape, perspective mixed, images tangled. She titled the work “Memory” and that feels apt though a bit unsettling given the jumbled distortions that comprise the picture, as though memory does indeed play tricks. Perhaps night and day are depicted, and similar locations, and similar creatures, but they are not perfectly aligned views. One senses the chaotic elements of nature here, of strange forces coalescing, but this picture does not surrender its secrets so easily, and for this writer at least, remains distant.

Memory: Georgina Rutherford

Memory: Georgina Rutherford

Caitlin Grames uses the figure of a woman overlaid, goddess-like with images of galactic star formation in her work, “Asunder.” The figure throws back her head and extends her fingers with taut muscularity as if inducing something momentous to happen, or possibly enduring the pain of recognition of something that will not. The vast expanses of time all but insure that inhabitants of those stellar expanses will never communicate much less meet, and the thought of that should induce a bit of angst and wonder in all of us. That Ms. Grames overlays the image with an explosion of red (and the title) suggests in this moment that angst — defined as that ineffable feeling one encounters standing at the edge of the abyss and contemplating the free will imposed option of leaping — might outweigh wonder.

Asunder: Caitlin Grames

Asunder: Caitlin Grames

Jonathon Russel shows two airplanes, vapor trails pouring from their engines, and one airplane parked at a gate in his work, “8872 Miles 13 Time Zones 3 Continents.” This constructivist-like image evokes our perpetual motion in near frenzy, which almost precludes meaningful encounters. The planes allow us to meet anywhere, but at the same time keep us hopping, and thus disallow more intimate meetings. The planes at oblique angles in this picture seem to suggest we too often fly past one another.

8872 Miles 13 Time Zones 3 Continents: Jonathon Russel

8872 Miles 13 Time Zones 3 Continents: Jonathon Russel

David Gerhard’s “Searching” implies a soulful quest for something ineffable but necessary, and perhaps not inevitable. A wistful image of a man staring into infinity, almost that infamous thousand-yard stare of a man who has seen too much, overlays a circular, symmetrical, maze-like print suggestive of those found in an Aztec codex. Beneath this, we see ghostly images of figures fleeing through the passageways of cryptically rendered buildings. It seems here the artist might be conveying the notion of meetings of the mind that elude us, recognition of commonality that might soothe our distrust, but nevertheless escape us in the endless turmoil of history.

Searching: David Gerhard

Searching: David Gerhard

Mark Andrus offers a wistful view of “A Time We Cannot Meet” with his photograph that shows a man and a woman separated by a short distance on a sidewalk, but what appears to be an infinite emotional distance. The woman holds a red balloon straining aloft while the man clutches a rose, held downward at his side, and a greeting card in his other hand. The two wear dour expressions, as though both have come to the same realization that they must go in opposite directions despite a palpable urge to do otherwise.

A Time We Cannot Meet: Mark Andrus

A Time We Cannot Meet: Mark Andrus

In “Colophon,” Jeremiah Britton creates with unreal colors and swirling lines a picture reminiscent of art nouveau. (Colophon refers to a publisher’s emblem or imprint, esp. one on the title page or spine of a book.) This serigraph creates a collage feel with disparate images intersecting, but independent and not quite meeting physically or intellectually — they exist apart from one another. At the bottom, a man and woman in Victorian dress reach toward each other, but the woman ominously hovers in the empty space between two brick buildings while the man stands on the top ledge of one. Is this the same woman we see in the larger image? More importantly, will the grasping figures reach one another, or does the woman drop into the infinity between the towers? The answer probably depends on your state of mind when you see this picture, but if Mr. Britton stays true to the theme of the show, one should anticipate the worst.

Colophon: Jeremiah Britton

Colophon: Jeremiah Britton

It seems from the list on the opening event Facebook page that we missed David Birkam. Apologies! Anyone got a picture? If so, please forward for inclusion here.

If you made it this far, forgive the wordiness, but the works in Detroit Print Exchange 2012 seem to warrant individual recognition. They surely merit a visit to 4731 before the show moves on to New York in September. At any rate, what you read here are the views of one possibly (probably?) misguided writer. Go see the pictures for yourself. And sorry the photos suck, but they are all the more reason to get down to the Grand River Creative Corridor and see the show at 4731.

Cheers to Andrew Hawkes, Sarah Ayers, Nicholas Mark and all the crew at 4731 Gallery for making it happen.

 

If you dig this review and want to read more like it, visit www.artifizz.org/Blogs. Oh, and a few more likes on our Facebook page can’t hurt, either. Peace.

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4731 Gallery: Detroit Print Exchange Opening

 

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4731 Gallery: Detroit Print Exchange Opening

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4731 Gallery: Detroit Print Exchange Opening

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4731 Gallery: Detroit Print Exchange Opening

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4731 Gallery: Detroit Print Exchange Opening

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4731 Gallery: Detroit Print Exchange Opening

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4731 Gallery: Detroit Print Exchange Opening

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4731 Gallery: Detroit Print Exchange Opening

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4731 Gallery: Detroit Print Exchange Opening

 

June 10, 2013

SAY YES! :: David Edward Parker

Opening, "Say Yes!" at Hatch in Hamtramck 8-June-2013

Opening, “Say Yes!” at Hatch in Hamtramck 8-June-2013

by Jim Welke

“Say Yes!” — an exhibition of works by David Edward Parker opened Saturday, June 8 2013, at Hatch in Hamtramck. A crowd turned out — to get through the door of the gallery one needed to share several pardon me’s, excuse me’s, step aside pal’s to find their way into the exhibition space of what was once the police station for Hamtramck. The intrepid members of the Hatch artist collective purchased the building for a dollar and then invested countless units of blood, sweat, and tears to convert a former bureaucratic nerve center for agents of public order into a nerve center for agents of sometimes cerebral disorder: the wide-open expression of artistic observation and thought.

The two, of course, do not exist in diametric conflict. Art flourishes in nurturing communities, absent the ravages of crime, and right across the street, within the walls of City Hall, the new police station resides. The City of Hamtramck, however, recently fell under the rule of an Emergency Financial Manager, appointed by Governor Snyder as a result (the Governor asserts) of the grave financial situation burdening the city.

Yet, the arts flourish, and in turn nurture their community despite looming economic perils. One hopes the leaders of the city and the governor notice. A good turnout at Mr. Parker’s show means a good turn out for Hamtramck — positive press and all.

Once in, first thing to catch your eye will be three large works, untitled, constructed of wood frames, foam board, and hockey tape. Black hockey tape, crossing over itself in random directions like a maze of two dimensional tree branches. The tape (used to wrap the business end of hockey sticks) covers the entire surface. The artist formed the frames into irregular polygons; polygons that represent recurring shapes residing in the artist’s subconscious and resurfacing from time to time, as Mr. Parker related it. The odd shaped planes echo the random rectilinear patterns of the tape and together they form a cohesive slice of captured chaos, if that makes sense. The unrelenting blackness draws your eyes ever closer, as you unconsciously search for recurring patterns that do not exist. These works seem to toy with our fear of the empty void, the nothingness but not truly nothingness from which everything seems to spring, and to which ultimately everything returns.

Untitled (detail) / hockey tape on foam / 2013 / David Edward Parker

Untitled (detail) / hockey tape on foam / 2013 / David Edward Parker

Adjacent to the large black expanses are four smaller works, entitled “Nervous Geometry,” ingeniously made of graphite on folded paper where the graphite adheres most densely on the previously folded now pressed flat paper. The folds form intersecting straight lines, similar in pattern to those on the hockey tape pieces, but much narrower and much sparser on the sheet. Beside the large black polygons they seem to represent an evolution, passage of time, an expansion of space where the lines become farther apart as their universe expands… and worlds form. Or so this observer sees it.

Nervous Geometry / 2013 / David Edward Parker

Nervous Geometry / 2013 / David Edward Parker

Untitled / 2013 & "Nervous Geometry" / 2013 / David Edward Parker

Untitled / 2013 & Nervous Geometry (1 of 4) / 2013 / David Edward Parker

Another work, Y.E.$ – NFS (graphite on paper, 2011), a triptych consisting of sheets devoted to the characters “Y,” “E,” and “$.” With the pictures aligned side-by-side (and rounding a corner at the far end of the gallery) one immediately reads the word “YES.” But as you approach them, the characters resolve into individual lotto cards dropped like overlapping leaves, as one so often encounters these cards outside the ubiquitous “LIQUOR, LOTTO, CHECKS-CASHED” shops that seem to be the sole source of sustenance in Detroit neighborhoods. The discarded losing tickets on wet pavement stick to the soles of your shoes and insistently remind you of the eternal hopefulness, or in some cases desperation, of the purchasers of these long odd opportunities of chance. Comprised of hundreds of these tickets drawn with incomprehensible precision by Mr. Parker, this triptych seems to mock that syrupy mantra of lotto vendors and users, “You gotta be in it to win it.” The cheerful “YES” feels betrayed by its formation from hundreds of discarded losing tickets that represent many hundreds of precious dollars expended by hopeful or desperate purchasers, dollars that might be more profitably spent on food, clothing, transportation, or rent. The dollar sign at the end enforces this notion of state-sanctioned monitizing of hope.

"Y.E.$" / 2011 / David Edward Parker

“Y.E.$” / 2011 / David Edward Parker

"Y.E.$" (detail) / 2011 / David Edward Parker

“Y.E.$” (detail) / 2011 / David Edward Parker

Surrounding the uniform detritus of Y.E.$, you will see numerous images of crushed pop cans (All The Coolest Kids At 7-11[Coke], [Red Bull], [Four Loco] — colored pencil on paper, 2013) and cigarette packs (Flavor Country, colored pencil on paper, 2013). Like a post-post-modern take on Andy Warhol’s pristine soup cans and soap boxes, Mr. Parker shows these objects as we most often see them: crumpled litter soiling the sidewalks and gutters of our streets. In fact, we see them so often we almost do not perceive them, except convulsively when we cry out, “Shit! Who’s dropping all this crap?” and then comfort ourselves with righteous indignation and resume ignoring them. Here, Mr. Parker carefully renders the crap in both color and form, lifted from the gutter and dropped on a pure snowy white surface. Look at them! Perceive them, Mr. Parker seems to say, they are us, the perpetual output of our civilization, output that seems to have supplanted our prouder output of the past: solid, lasting, manufactured widgets that added convenience, productivity, and prosperity to our lives instead of dangerous crap.

All The Coolest Kids At 7-11[Coke], [Red Bull], [Four Loco] / colored pencil on paper / 2013 / David Edward Parker

All The Coolest Kids At 7-11[Coke], [Red Bull], [Four Loco] / colored pencil on paper / 2013 / David Edward Parker

 

Flavor Country / colored pencil on paper / 2013 / David Edward Parker

Flavor Country / colored pencil on paper / 2013 / David Edward Parker

Flavor Country / colored pencil on paper / 2013 / David Edward Parker

Flavor Country / colored pencil on paper / 2013 / David Edward Parker

Flavor Country / colored pencil on paper / 2013 / David Edward Parker

Flavor Country / colored pencil on paper / 2013 / David Edward Parker

Other work exhibited includes, Quite Revealing, a pink neon sign glowing low on the wall as though a strange interloper commenting on the show… or the visitors. A video, Pleasure Seekers, that captures a relentless stream of strollers at an auto show (Detroit?) gazing happily, wistfully, covetously at the landscape of the latest automobile models, but mostly it seems, just streaming dutifully through the show like pilgrims in Mecca. An untitled (though subtitled “pink sewing”, 2007) oil paint on canvas work hangs by itself in one corner, built from an accretion of nine smaller canvases sewn together, all painted in salmon-colored transitions from darker to light. To this viewer, the work suggested internal organs, squared off like a weird mystery meat patty, but with an eerie, austere elegance. But that might be the unique filter of this viewer’s eyes.

Untitled (Pink Sewing) / oil on canvas / 2007 / David Edward Parker

Untitled (Pink Sewing) / oil on canvas / 2007 / David Edward Parker

Go see the show for yourself. The works of David Edward Parker’s “SAY YES!” remain in the lockup at the Hatch precinct through 6-July. The show will startle and captivate you. Quite revealing, indeed.

September 23, 2009

drawing

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