NAIAS @ Cobo Hall, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Floor View of NAIAS

So last year, I wandered out onto the farthest fringe of the fine art community and made a decision to write about the 2017 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). At the time I declared it to be an exhibition in the Detroit metro area worthy of our time and effort. Now, the new 2018 review comes on the heels of writing a review of Monet: Framing Life, an exhibition now at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

In my 2017 Auto Show review, I gave recognition to the Eyes on Design competition and to the College for Creative Studies for their exemplary Transportation Design Program. In addition, I acknowledged all the fine artists who worked in the automotive design process by day, and do their own personal and private fine art work in their home studios on weekends and by night. I did this review based on attending the 2017 public viewing of the auto show, packed with a widely diverse audience of families and individuals from all walks of life. When the review was published, I did get positive feedback from NAIAS officials as they recommended that in 2018, I should apply for a press credential. For the 2017 Detroit Art Review, I went about my business and selected a luxury production car, the 2017 Lincoln Continental, as having the highest level of overall aesthetic appeal, followed up by my reasons for the selection and why.

There were critics, of course, both writers and artists who thought I had lost my mind by comparing the design elements of a car to the exhibition of paintings by Van Gogh or Edward Hopper, but many more could easily see the connection between the artisans who work in the automobile design departments and their personal artistic talent, of which many men and women exhibit in galleries, museums, and fine art competitions right here in Detroit.

But that was last year. In December of 2017, I contemplated a new review of 2018 NAIAS. Should I do another?  I began by applying for a press credential and was rejected and then rejected again on appeal. Then I approached the Chairman of the CCS Transportation Design program by email and asked for his input. He said he supported the idea whole-heartedly, but soon his emails stopped and he could not be reached. After the rejection by NAIAS for press access, they suggested that I should simply attend one of the Industry Preview Days. I did that and paid dearly for the, um, privilege. $110 for the ticket, $15 for parking and $4 to hang up my coat, all in a good effort to provide publicity and good will to the auto industry. (I am happy to report that using the men’s room is still free.)

Audi V-10 R8 Coupe convertible

The first thing I bumped into on the showroom floor was the new Audi R8 V-10 sports coupe powered by a 10-cylinder gas guzzling engine with a 14mpg (they may have fudged on the mileage). Considering the price tag of $175,000, that seemed like enough money and cylinders for four cars.

I moseyed up to a high platform where the view consisted of thousands of white men, aged 30-60 years old, in dull slacks, dress shirts, short hair, and glasses. Many were clustered in groups and held an itemized pad for notes and iPhones for taking pictures.

Several times I asked those working the show what was meant by Industry Preview Day. Their responses varied greatly. “Mostly engineers…looking at the competition,” or “VIPs from headquarters” or “today is for the auto designers and their teams,” or “it’s mostly a perk for suppliers or dealers.” My guess is they all were provided with a free ticket.

Bluntly, it was a sea of Caucasian men as far as I could see. I did see an African American security guard in a red coat, and an African American cleaning lady, in that same red coat. To be fair, there might have been one or two women there, probably VIP spouses, and a few Asian engineers. Notable were several undercover police officers with sniffer dogs, and at each entrance, African American security guards (in their red coats) doing body scans with an electronic wand. Well, good. I felt safe, but there was a new experience ahead.

As you might recall or imagine, the Cobo exhibition hall is a large, circular space filled, in this case, with very expensive sets are individually designed and assigned to each automobile manufacturer. What I didn’t expect to see was a section devoted to automotive suppliers. I guess that means more revenue for NAIAS and Cobo Hall.

The first supplier exhibit I came across was Aramco Transport Technologies, which provides technology that improves mileage, emissions, and efficiency. I asked a representative where their headquarters were, and they said, Novi, Michigan. Apparently, they are also located in other parts of the world, like Paris, France. When pressed, they said they were a division of Saudi Aramco in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, the state-owned oil company that is the world’s top exporter of oil and natural gas.

To be fair, Aramco has developed a Mobile Carbon Capture technology that captures the Co2 before it leaves the car, which is then stored and unloaded for reuse. Although there were electric cars, like Volkswagen’s concept car, in most of the displays, but I did not see a supplier of passive energy sources for automotive use.

There was Denso North America, leaders in corrosion prevention and sealant technology, headquartered in Kariya, Japan. There was a large display by Aisin Group that specialized in powertrain components, also head quartered in Japan, but I asked myself; who is coming to NAIAS to look into the technical parts of a car or cross-sections of a transmission? Are they lobbyists? I would be remiss if I did not mention the Michelin Tire Display, fudge from Kyba’s Mackinaw Island and the candied almond vendor.

2018 Lincoln Continental

But back to my mission to find a car that has the highest level of overall aesthetic appeal, which leads me to another revelation: The design of production cars changes very slowly, as this year’s models demonstrated. I was drawn back inexorably to the Lincoln Continental. The understatement of line, shape, and proportion still provides the viewer with a feeling of strength and security. The lines curve down and inward, an aesthetic sometimes seen in European sports cars. The repetition of roundness is soothing. Stylish elements abound, like the way the E-latch door handles provide a graceful inset in the side door, and five LED lamps create a slender design to what used to be a larger headlamp.

2018 Lincoln Continental Grill Detail

The front grill is refined, delicate and proportionate to the front profile, while the small openings in the grill repeat a similar shape of the car logo. A sleek console serves to open up the cabin, while the sophisticated push-button gearshift integrates seamlessly with classic knobs and buttons. The leather-wrapped, hand-stitched steering wheel is mounted ahead of a 12.3-inch fully configurable digital instrument cluster that displays easy-to-read driver information clearly. Sitting in the car, looking closely at its design elements, I was left with what I experienced last year, which is that the Lincoln Motor Company, the luxury automotive brand of Ford Motor Company, is committed to creating an exquisitely designed vehicle that places itself above their competitors.

2018 Lincoln Continental fron interior

 

Everything I experienced with the cars themselves remains the same, particularly when it came to recognizing the designers who work hard at deserving their much-earned success around the world. As I mentioned, NAIAS has its own Eyes on Design program, and this year they gave the KIA Stinger their choice for Best Production Car award. (South Korea is hosting this years Winter Olympics) If you’re curious, the awards are decided on by four chief judges, and thirty-two regular judges who must work together on a process that I cannot imagine, but it is their official program, highly honored and celebrated. Congratulations! But as for my experience with NAIAS 2018 Industry Preview Day, it was enlightening and disappointing. The cars were sleek and shiny, the crowd was bland, and the diversity of people packed into Cobo Hall on this day…was racially offensive.

NAIAS 2018 @ Cobo Hall, Detroit

 

 

 

 

Basquiat @ Cranbrook Art Museum

BASQUIAT BEFORE BASQUIAT: East 12th Street, 1979-1980

Jean-Michael Basquiat at Great Jones Studio, 1985

In the spring of 1971 when I had just graduated from Wayne State University with an M.A. in painting, I was making surreal landscape paintings. I had not heard of Jean-Michel Basquiat, of course, because he was only ten years old and attending St. Ann’s Catholic school in New York City. Soon after that he was bound for San Juan, Puerto Rico with his father and family for three years, before returning to Brooklyn and finishing high school.

And it wasn’t until the late 1990s when my son Julian Teachworth was finishing his senior year at The Cooper Union in NYC that he told me Basquiat’s work had influenced his painting. It was only then that I became familiar with his work, and that was ten years after his tragic death from a heroin overdose at the age of twenty-seven in 1988.

Andrew Blauvelt, Director of the Cranbrook Art Museum, said, “The exhibition and accompanying catalogue presents New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s through the prism of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s art and provides a window into the art-rich time that he inhabited and impacted so profoundly. Ultimately, this exhibition will attest to Basquiat’s virtuosity in formation–the creative impulses that yielded a distinctive voice, but also the many diversions or paths he explored as he was developing a signature style.”

Alexis Adler, B&W photographic images of Basquiat performing in the apartment, 1979

Jean-Michel Basquiat first appeared in New York City in 1980 depicting street graffiti using neat block letters and his SAMO© tags on the surrounding streets of lower Manhattan. It was these early years when Basquiat started dating Alexis Adler and living with a close friend, Felice Ralster, that is the subject for this new exhibition at Cranbrook Art Museum: BASQUIAT BEFORE BASQUIAT: East 12th Street, 1979-1980 that opened November 17, 2017. Basquiat and Adler moved into a small apartment at 527 East 12 Street, commonly referred to as the East Village, and became part of the punk culture largely based around musicians and artists at the Mudd Club scene.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, Acrylic and Oil Stick on canvas. 1984

It was at P.S. 1 in a group survey show, New York / New Wave where his work was a step above graffiti street art, as illustrated by his ability for putting things together: masks, words, marks and disconnected phrases. The exhibition included Keith Haring, Robert Maplethorpe, and Andy Warhol. The day after the opening he returned home to Brooklyn around 6:00 in the morning to proclaim to his father, “Papa, I’ve made it!”

Basquiat made money for paint and his share of the rent by selling T-Shirts on the street. 1979

Basquiat’s riff with his father and his association with Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf, led him to Club 57 and a strong and close relationship with who would become his mentor, Andy Warhol. Back then, Basquiat made his living by selling clothing on the street. On display at the Cranbrook exhibition are T-Shirts he transformed into living works of art to be worn and celebrated as part of his artistic practice.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (Cadmium) Oil, oil stick, acrylic on canvas 1984

Looking back, I think we see Jean-Michel Basquiat as an artist who emerged from being a graffiti artist during the “punk scene” era, and then ended up as a celebrated artistic phenomenon. Skillfully, he brought together disparate traditions, practices and unconventional styles that established a baseline for artists to come. He was an African-Caribbean artist, who came along at a time when the art world was dominated by exhibitions of Minimal and Conceptual art.

Alexis Adler, Drawing by Basquiat on wall of apartment, Archival pigment print, 1980

Using an archival approach, much of this exhibition comes from the collection of Alexis Adler, and a visit to the exhibition Basquiat Before Basquiat deepens your understanding of this artist while simultaneously providing the viewer with a context of his early work in 1980s New York City. Concurrently, the museum is hosting exhibitions by Keith Haring, Maya Stovall and Ryan McGinness.

Alexis Adler, B&W photograph of Baquiat in the apartment, 1981

BASQUIAT BEFORE BASQUIAT: East 12th Street, 1979-1980, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

Cranbrook Art Museum

Through March 11, 2018

 

 

 

Monet: Framing Life @ Detroit Institute of Arts

Detroit Art Review: Monet at Detroit Institute of Art

The Early Work of Claude Monet While living in the Paris suburb Argenteuil

Claude Monet (French, 1840 – 1926 ), The Bridge at Argenteuil, 1874, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

The Detroit Institute of Arts opened a new exhibition, Monet: Framing Life, on September 22, 2017, with the work of impressionist Claude Monet(1840-1926), an early key figure in the Impressionist movement that transformed French painting in the second half of the nineteenth century.

This exhibition depicts Monet’s leisure activity in and around Paris from 1871-78. While at the Paris studio studying with Charles Gleyre, Monet met several other artists, including Alfred Sisley, Frederic Bazille, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Monet found his subjects in his immediate surroundings of Argenteuil, just fifteen minutes from Paris by train.

His asymmetrical arrangement of forms emphasized the two-dimensional surfaces by eliminating linear perspective and abandoning three-dimensional modeling. Much of this work was started plein air, where Monet would set up his easel and work directly in a natural outdoor setting, then return to the studio for completion. His vibrant brightness of color in preparing his canvas with light-colored primers, instead of dark ground under-painting, broke with traditional landscape painting.

Raised in Normandy, Monet spent his youth in LeHavre and had been exposed to the work of Eugene Boudin, known for his paintings in the open areas along the Channel coast. Boudin befriended the young Monet, then only 18, and persuaded him to give up his teenage caricature drawings and to become a landscape painter, helping to instill in him a love of bright hues and the play of light on water later evident in Monet’s work.

Monet’s paintings of poplar trees and stacks of wheat, mustard colored water off cliffs off the coast of Normandy, of women strolling with children suggest that life is inherently serene, a series of warm sunny afternoons where parasols protect a woman’s delicate skin from overexposure to the sun. His quests to capture nature also prompted him to break down space and eventually merge color and subject into an atmosphere. The end result is a feeling we absorb, much more mysterious than an intellectual or logical observation.

Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, French, 1841 – 1919, 1872, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

The art scene in Paris was alive and well during these years for a group of artists who wanted to change the traditional approach to painting. Pierre-Auguste Renoir had become a close friend to Monet and here in this portrait, he captures him wearing a blue jacket and smoking a pipe. Renoir had a brilliant eye for both intimate human features and the day’s fashions. His images of common families and well-dressed Parisian pleasure seekers created a bridge from Impressionism’s more experimental aims to a modern depiction of the French middle-class.

Claude Monet (French, 1840 – 1926 ), Argenteuil, c. 1872, oil on canvas, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection 1970.17.42

The promenade along the River Seine was a popular subject for Claude Monet. The compositional structure in Argenteuil around 1872 would shape landscape painters for years to come. He divides the canvas by threes on both the lateral and longitudinal axis while capturing low light casting shadows across this old dirt river road. The stillness here is captivating, without a person in sight or smoke bellowing from the distant factories stacks. Monet’s work lays down a foundation for artists like Childe Hassam, the American Impressionist, in his watercolor, The Beach at Dunkirk or his oil on canvas, Winter Midnight, where he has absorbed the plein air approach of Monet and the ability to offer up tranquility to people from all walks of life.

Claude Monet, Rounded Flower Bed, Corbeille de Fleurs, Oil on Canvas, 1872 Courtesy of the DIA

The painting at the center of the exhibition is the work of art formerly referred to as Gladioli and now renamed Rounded Flower Bed (Corbeille de fleurs). The renaming is the result of new research recently done for this exhibition. For nearly one hundred years, the DIA has called this painting Gladioli, the title given when it first appeared on the public market in 1919. After closer inspection, the painting was lent to an 1877 group exhibition with the title, Corbeille de fleurs or Rounded Flower Bed. It was at this exhibition that the participating artists first adopted the term Impressionists to describe themselves. In the DIA exhibition, the painting sits under glass without its frame and provides the viewer with a detailed explanation of the markings on the back of the painting. The painting is reminiscent of how Monet would have worked on canvas in his garden, and foreshadows the immersive garden environment he later created at Giverny.

The Monet exhibition, which concentrates on the late 1870’s, is where Impressionism arrives and gradually begins to mature.

Claude Monet (French, 1840 – 1926 ), Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son, 1875, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

It is inherent in the paintings of the early 1870s, as in Woman with a Parasol, the imposing canvas of Camille and Jean Monet, the artist’s wife and young son, where the artist starts to abstract the clouds simply using marks of paint and the white dress becomes blue. Monet’s compositions were based on zones of light and shade. Two years later, in the open fields near Argenteuil, the figures are seen from a distance, and everything disintegrates into a blur of minced color.

The work of Claude Monet is so instilled into our lexicon of artwork, we tend to forget how new the work was to the art world. Cezanne has been quoted as saying, “Monet is only an eye, but good God, what an eye.” The art of impressionism conjures up a world of magical charm filled with light and color. More than anyone else, Claude Monet recognized that his garden, rather than his words, presented the path to understanding his art.

Monet: Framing Life is on exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts, through March 4, 2018. Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties: $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6-17, $8 per person for groups of 15 or more.

This exhibition has been organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts and made possible by the Bonnie Ann Larson Modern European Master Series. Generous corporate support has been provided by Park West Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Altair, English Gardens, and Grand Hotel—Mackinac Island. Major support has been provided by Lois and Avern Cohn. Additional funding is contributed by Dr. Mark and Amy Haimann, Dr. Theodore and Diana Golden, anonymous donors, Eleanore and Dick Gabrys, and Andrew L. and Gayle Shaw Camden.

 

 

Jim Nawara @ WSU Art Department Gallery

PHENOMENA IN LANDSCAPE: Paintings, Prints, Drawings, & Photographs 1969-2017

James Nawara, Professor Emeritus of Painting and Drawing at Wayne State University, PHENOMENA IN LANDSCAPE, Retrospective Exhibition, 2017 Image Courtesy of Lucille Nawara

The exhibition by Jim Nawara, now Professor Emeritus of Painting and Drawing at Wayne State University, spans forty-eight years and includes more than one hundred paintings, prints, drawings, and photographs. The exhibition begins with Nawara’s imaginary landscapes seen from an aerial viewpoint that were made in the seventies and eighties. Next, an engaging series of thirty-two black and white photographs (1969-1989) presents sometimes quirky subjects selected mostly from Detroit area urban landscapes. Some these compositions were influential sources for subsequent oil paintings and large watercolor paintings that Nawara has produced from 1990 up to the present. No longer seen from an aerial viewpoint, these representational landscapes are based upon observation and interpretation of actual sites that are carefully selected.

Nawara has stated that he often prefers depopulated, nondescript, or non-picturesque sources, “The subject does not need to be obviously beautiful, grand, or pristine. I once found the foundation of an abandoned house more intriguing than an idyllic nearby waterfall. A large globe light set in a library lawn below a harvest moon, the geometric pattern of a partially demolished Detroit factory, and the stark, nighttime shadows on snow covering a backyard garden all became painting subjects.”

James Nawara, Installation image, Early work, Image Courtesy of DAR 2017

In the earlier imaginary landscape subjects, the terrain was seen from a low-altitude aerial viewpoint. Although invented, these compositions evolved from actual landscapes viewed from commercial flights, light aircraft, a helicopter and once a hot air balloon flight, as well as the artist’s interests in geology, optical phenomena, and prehistory. At a distance, the work might suggest abstract color field painting, exemplified by abstract color field painters like Jules Olitski in the 1980’s. Upon closer observation, the details reveal a plausible landscape that provides illusions of crop growth, archeological sites, subtle patterns, rock formations, long cast shadows, with both actual and illusionistic textures. These works have a feel for abstraction, something that would be carried through in Jim Nawara’s later work.

James Nawara, Trace, acrylic on linen, 1973

As an undergraduate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Nawara studied under the mentor and famous photographer, Kenneth Josephson and also worked as a commercial photographer in Chicago. He went on to graduate school in painting at the University of Illinois, and studied photography there under another well-known photographer, Art Sinsabaugh.

James Nawara, Thirty- Two early Black & White 8 x 10″ Photographic Images

After completing his graduate degree in Illinois, Jim Nawara moved to Detroit to take a position as a drawing instructor at Wayne State University. His thirty-two photographs in this exhibition, most of which were taken in Detroit, have seldom been exhibited. He chose the rigor of always composing and printing the images full frame, un-cropped. The dates of these images overlap Nawara’s shift from aerial view subjects to landscapes based on ground-level views of actual sites. He was intrigued by the idea that an artist might be able to make art out of a “mundane” subject.

James Nawara, RESTEEL, oil on Linen, 1991

In the large industrial urban landscape, RESTEEL multiple layers of broken walls and windows of an abandoned factory draw the viewer into the painting. The foreground, mid-ground, and background all have their characteristics concerning light, shape, and color. It is an example of magical realism that presents an abstraction that is grounded in realism. In the foreground, the lower right brick structure plays off the left sheets of corrugated red metal, while the interior plays with a sliver of light. The imagery is divided into thirds both vertically and horizontally. It is a grid that provides us with a solitude that brings us back to multiple viewing. Each section of this oil painting is meticulously rendered, another reason viewers are compelled to take a long, hard look and become enveloped by this vestige of Detroit’s industry.

James Nawara, Blue Fence, oil on linen, 1999

In the small oil painting, Blue Fence, from 1999 is another example of Nawara’s strong composition, illusionistic space, and placement of color. He painted the blue fence, as well as a wedge of a red, white and blue sign on the far right in crisp detail. The fence, sign, shed walls, roof, and tree are carefully layered, like flats on a stage. It is evident that placement of these compositional elements is like an abstract collage.

James Nawara, Night Garden, Watercolor, 2007

Nawara’s Night Garden demonstrates a high level of technical facility with the watercolor medium. He poetically creates the stillness of fallen snow in his wife’s vegetable garden, illuminated by a strong floodlight on the back of their studio.

Working from a photograph, Nawara translated the textured snow with granulated watercolor washes, particularly as seen in the snowdrifts and snow-covered birdbath. This was an ephemeral subject, as all the snow melted by dawn. The entire painting was done with just three granulating watercolors, Holbein Ultramarine Blue Deep, Daniel Smith Lunar Black, and Holbein Prussian Green.

James Nawara, RHOMBUS, 40 x 50, oil on linen, 2008

Nawara’s 2008 40” x 50” oil painting RHOMBUS was used on the announcement for this exhibition. A rhombus is a geometric term for a parallelogram, like the shape of a diamond on playing cards. The rhombus in this painting is formed by a broken branch and its reflection in a flooded young woodland. Nawara was intrigued by the shimmering soft focus of the water surface, and the reflections of trees appear softly blurred by breezes, while the actual branches were rendered in sharp focus. Magic realism is in full play with this abstract composition, far from anything a traditional landscape painter would contemplate. Jim Nawara was pleased when a former student described his exhibition as “dreamlike”.

I had an opportunity to ask the artist a few questions:

Ron Scott: The title of your exhibition is PHENOMENA IN LANDSCAPE. What are some examples and what do you mean by Phenomenon?

Jim Nawara: Anything that may be of visual interest that is happening or that has happened in the landscape; also the evidence, or traces of natural and human activity in the landscape.

RS:  When did the move from aerial imagery to horizon-based landscape take place and why?

JN: Actually, I made my first real drawings when I was about six years old and these were graphite pencil aerial view landscapes! This was after my first airline flight from Chicago to Minneapolis. My dad worked for Northwest Airlines, and he took my brother and me on a round trip to give my mom a one-day break. I was blown away by the views out the window and made drawings of what I saw as soon as I got home. Many years later I started drawing and painting aerial views again as a graduate student at the University of Illinois. Then after about twenty years, I moved away from aerial view landscapes in the late eighties. I felt that I had plowed the aerial view field thoroughly, and I wanted to move to other aspects of landscape.

RS: How much of the work is plein-air and how important is that process to the work?

JN: I have started a few paintings outdoors; but being a slow painter, I have never completed one outside. I found it stimulating, and I just kept seeing more and more information that I wanted to put into the painting! I use quick graphite sketches and photographs to define the compositions. I worked outside for two consecutive days on RESTEEL, the six-foot painting in this exhibition. Each day within two hours of my arrival the wind increased moderately, and the six-foot canvas turned into an uncontrollable sail pulling itself and me down the street!

RS: What role has photography played in your artwork? How is it used?

JN: My photography experience in and out of school has given me a good understanding of the differences between human vision and the way a camera records an image. This is crucial in understanding how to use a source photograph effectively for another medium.

RS: How would you describe the difference in oil on canvas work, and the works on paper? Is it more than scale? Is there something inherent in the media?

JN: Yes, oil and watercolor are just inherently different mediums with their characteristics and qualities. I enjoy both and often alternate between the two. The major difference is the fact that transparent watercolor dries rapidly and allows you to move forward quickly in a painting. However, you are very limited in removing color that has dried into the paper. Therefore, I have to plan out each watercolor several steps ahead. Oil paint allows you to move forward and back more easily, but each has its particular, wonderful charms.

RS: Which (living or dead) artist’s work are you most attracted to, and why?

JN: There are many wonderful artists who made excellent work. The first three that I immediately think of are Edwin Dickinson, Georgio Morandi, and (always) Johannes Vermeer. Check them out in books or online, but better yet, try to see some actual work in museums.

RS: What attracted you to these abandoned Midwest locations?

JN: I never select a site to paint because it is abandoned, though some are.   I primarily consider my paintings abstract organizations of shape, color, light, and space. The paintings are always interpretations filtered through time, memory and imagination, as well as the physical process of painting. I often choose urban landscapes, but when I select a natural subject, I am interested in the effects of human activity great and small on the landscape. These events may be grand, unimportant, profound, or peculiar. I want to engage the viewer and to express something that is ineffable. My watercolor painting Lock shows a mosquito-ridden abandoned canal lock in Ohio that provided enough visual interest for me to make a painting.

The work in this exhibition spans Jim Nawara’s forty-six-year career as a professor of drawing and painting at Wayne State University. Artists and colleagues that know Jim kid him about his “brief” resume, a reflection of his record as an active exhibitor participating in solo and small group shows as well as more than 250 international, national and regional group exhibitions, not to mention the public and private collections that house his work. In 2007 Nawara had an exhibition at the Muskegon Museum of art, Overviews & Afterlands, that exhibited 22 works of art where the curator remarks say, “His landscapes are without figures, yet notated with marks of human activity and man-made forms. They are based on observation but driven by invention. They reflect the passage of time: changing light and shadow, remnants of man-made forms, the layering of a medium during the creative process.”

Jim Nawara earned a B.F.A from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an M.F.A from the University of Illinois, Champaign

The exhibition continues through Friday, December 8th, 2017

Wayne State University Art Department Gallery

Hours: Tuesday – Thursday 10 AM – 6 PM, Friday 10AM- 7PM

Art Department Gallery, 150 Art Building,  5400 Reuther Mall,  Detroit, Michigan 48202

A Family Affair @ Ellen Kayrod Gallery

Parish, Parish, Parish –  An exhibition of painting by Tom, Shirley, and Erin Parish

Installation image, Courtesy of Shelia Kniffin, 2017

In downtown Detroit, where Grand River Ave. meets and Griswold St. in the Zemco Textile building, circa 1977, Tom & Shirley Parish lived and painted in a loft on the 6th floor. They each had a studio, as did the young daughter, Erin who has just turned 12 years old. At the time, Detroit was going through some of its hardest times, making this kind of space affordable for artists but back then, the family had some concerns about safety. Fast forward thirty years, Tom Parish, Emeriti’s Professor of painting from Wayne State University now works in his studio in Southfield, as does retired art teacher Shirley Parish, and Erin Parish has just opened a one-person exhibition Meet Me Halfway at Art & Art Gallery, in Miami Florida. This will be her 32nd solo exhibition. These three artists from one family are presented together in the current Ellen Kayrod exhibition, Parish, Parish, Parish, in mid-town Detroit, connected by oil paint and an incredible sensibility of purpose to their paintings.

Erin Parish, Shirley Parish, Tom Parish, (left to right) Image Courtesy of Lucille Nawara

Erin Parish, after her undergraduate work at Bennington College and an MFA at Queens College, NY established herself as a Miami-based artist who paints fields of colorful abstract forms. Most recently these circular forms are activated through a vivid palette of repetition that evokes a sense of space, depth, and volume. The work is a combination of canvas, mixed media and, polyester resins that communicates contemplation as it draws the viewer into this new abstract experience.

Erin Parish, Auspicious Flying Dream, Oil on Canvas, 2008

She says in her statement, “Things, in my paintings as in life, are always in the process of becoming: the edge of things about to be, flux, impermanence, thawing, growth, and the change of the seasons. Spring was a most joyous time of year after a long white winter with low gray clouds and a little sun in my hometown of Detroit. This touches on the Buddhist insistence on impermanence and how this resonates with me.”

And in a recent book by Deepak Chopra, The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, he captures an idea that resonates with her paintings, “At a deeper level, there is really no boundary between ourselves and everything else in the world… we are all constantly sharing portions of our energy fields, so all of us, at the quantum level, at the level of our minds and our “selves”, we are all connected.

Shirley Parish, Red Bird, Oil on Canvas, 2017

Shirley Parish, Egret, Oil on Canvas, 2017

Shirley Dombrowski Parish has been working with oil paint imagery for forty years and has exhibited extensively through out the Detroit Metro Area since the late 1970’s. This new work based on bird symbolism comes after a period that focused on cloud creations where she described that work for the Detroit Art Review, “The painting of the sky began after many years of studying landscape. I try to capture light and breeze. I am aware of the constant shifting of light reflection of the sky, the sunset, water. The light is forever changing. These paintings are perceptions of experience, a visual poetry.”

But in recent years these elongated bird creatures have provided the subject matter that brings representational ideas out of abstraction. The painterly surface, rich and controlled, provides a bookmark for her recent work. She describes her several summers of vacationing on Beaver Island as an influence on her interest in the bird motif. She says in her statement, “After studying birds for two years, I decided to give a new twist to the sky. Creating the paintings has been a great adventure. These works of large birds capture feeling that can only arise through the painting of birds. The consciousness of the bird has empowered my creativity, gathering information through the inner-self, manifested through conscious and subconscious intelligence.”

Tom Parish, Sogna, Oil on Canvas, 2017

In Detroit, the Ellen Kayrod Gallery has become a familiar space for artist Tom Parish to reveal new work. For nearly thirty years he as made a sojourn to Venice, Italy to capture the architectural compositions of water and light. His time in Venice is always spent on observation and capturing images photographically during a two-, sometimes three-week stay. The images are both inspiration and part informational in creating what I have called a magical realism.

In the work Sogna, the image is a salty worn section of architecture and swirling reflections of light on water combined with reflection-struck water in the turbulent canal. The underlying strength in Parish’s work is always compositional. Here we get a slice of sky and a corner of open sea with a building facade having exterior and interior space to ponder. Parish reaches back to everything he had experienced in his reading to his observations of Cezanne, combined with a lucid imagination, to form special longitudes of form and gentle reflections of light.

It took an American painter, Thomas Parish, from Hibbing, Minnesota, home to the musician Bob Dylan, to find the landscape in Venice, part of the shallow Venetian lagoon and an enclosed bay that lies between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers. His Venetian landscapes expose the beauty of both, the architectural setting and swirls of reflective water that transcends a soft blend of magnitude and mystery.

Ellen Kayrod Gallery Parish, Parish, Parish –  on view until December 8, 2017