Patrick Hill @ Susanne Hilberry Gallery

Mocking up Where Nature and Structure Meet

Installation Shot Patrick Hill Drawings and Maquettes

Patrick Hill Drawings and Maquettes, Installation Image – Courtesy of Susanne Hilberry Gallery. All other images courtesy of Clara DeGalan

Patrick Hill’s maquettes, on display at Susanne Hilberry Gallery along with a large number of 2D works in a solo exhibition titled, appropriately, “Drawings and Maquettes 2014-2016,” are constructed in such a way that you can feel their potential to tower benevolently above you. You seem to be looking across the galleries from atop a high mountain at a curious experiment in integrated living down below. Hill’s 2D works evoke a similar experience of upended scale. Viewing images of them, it’s difficult to discern which are human-scaled and which small and intimate, inviting the viewer to huddle in close. Patrick Hill’s visual language is as rock-solid as the formal principles of sculpture, on which he bases both his 2D and 3D works. His solo exhibition transforms Susanne Hilberry’s galleries into a vast, charming landscape that evokes the West Coast, and Los Angeles in particular, in a tickling synesthesia of palette, forms, structures, visual and cultural references, and scale.

Image 1 Outdoor Studies 1 through 3 2012 2 Way Mirror Carrera Marble Dye Ink

Patrick Hill, Outdoor Studies 1 through 3 2012 2 Way Mirror Carrera Marble Dye Ink

Hill balances the solid, earthbound heft of his sculptural forms with light materials, colors, and narratives. His titles play with words and ideas, swinging between references to mysticism, nature, and pop culture (three exemplary titles are Threshold [New Thought II], Outdoor Study, and Kelly Bundy). A pair of ink and tea wash studies on paper are subtitled Moons and Boobs- channeling spiritual and formal rhymes between words in a way that keeps the conversation around this interesting work funny and light.

Image 2 Kelly Bundy 4 2011 Paper Dye and Ink 60 and three eights by fifty inches

Patrick Hill, Kelly Bundy 4 2011 Paper Dye and Ink 60 X 50

True to the three dimensional formal principles they borrow, Hill’s multimedia drawings contain layers of real and simulated texture. Their slapdash, playful surfaces are only part of the story- a closer look at works such as Fan Death (Double) reveals the artists fertile engagement with natural forms that collide in beautiful, meditative ways with empirical, human-made structures. The folds that lift the heavy paper off of the wall begin to reference the first steps of an origami structure, which is overlaid with a Frank Stella-esque drawn architectural/fan form, over which Hill has collaged blackberries. The above-mentioned synesthesia that makes Hill’s work more and more intriguing is in full force here. It’s present, too, in Palm (black and pink) which makes a spray paint stencil of an actual palm frond, evoking the surface quality of rapidly executed street art and, with the leaf’s delicate, vibrating edges, the iconic West Coast sound of wind moving through palm trees.

Fan Death (Double) 2013 Paper Blackberries Dye Grahite 12 by 9 inches

Patrick Hill, Fan Death (Double) 2013 Paper Blackberries Dye Graphite 12 X 9″












Hill is constantly flipping heavy and light throughout the works in “Drawings and Maquettes.” This visual/conceptual romp is especially enjoyable in his sculptures, which point toward human scale while seldom exceeding a foot or two in height.

 Large Geosurgery 2013 Cardboard Dye Ink Tape Glue 52 and a half by 35 X 33"

Patrick Hill, Large Geosurgery, 2013 Cardboard Dye Ink Tape Glue 52 X 35 X 33″
















In this respect, they’re successful as maquettes- and it matters that it’s the maquettes that are being shown, in all their rough-edged, paint-spattered humility. Despite their sculptural construction and prep-drawing feel, the maquettes capture the spirit of Hill’s work better than the hinted- at final pieces ever could. They are heavy and light, silly and serious, funny and touching, all at once. It’s a fine balance, and one Hill manages with a deceptively care-free abandon.

“Patrick Hill- Drawings and Maquettes” is on display at Susanne Hilberry Gallery through June 4, 2016.



Allie McGhee @ N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art

Installation image AM NNamdi

Installation image – Allie McGhee, All Images Courtesy of the Detroit Art Review

The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art opened a large exhibition of work, Now & Then,  by the veteran artist Allie McGhee on April 15, 2016. A Detroiter who attended Cass Technical High School and completed his undergraduate work at Eastern Michigan University in 1965, McGhee was born in Charleston, West Virginia. “As an artist I have always been inspired by the diverse rhythms of our environment,” McGhee says. “It has been a great reserve of energy for my work. In my recent works instead of seeing the natural world as a rational observer, I see if from within as if through a telescope or microscope.”

AM Simiar Rhythm MM on paper 2016

Allie McGhee – Similar Rhythm- Mixed Media on paper 2016

For the most part of this exhibition, these works hang on the wall as three-dimensional reliefs, made of paper and mixed media. These delicate creatures of raw substance seem as though they may start out as flat painted material and then folded to form a cumulative formal beauty underscored by a diverse paint surface. McGhee’s emphasis on discovered and spontaneous correlations that are twisted, crushed and crumpled, remind this writer of John Chamberlain, who worked in a similar fashion but mostly with metal and automobile parts. Given the time period of Allie McGhee’s formative years, the obvious influence here is Abstract Expressionism with shades of Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline that, despite a seemingly spontaneous appearance, maintains a balance of chaos and control.

Allie McGhee, Rainforest Mixed Media on Paper 2012

Allie McGhee, Rainforest, Mixed Media on Paper 2012

In his biography, McGhee says he favors using sticks to apply paint rather than brushes. Rejecting the brush, he pulls and scrapes the paint across his material, whether it is canvas or paper. The action of the stick allows McGhee’s hands to interact with the paint and the surface in a visceral way, where the thin paint spatters as he arranges his lathe-like constructions. In Rainforest, there are a variety of parallel bars that play against the light and abstract forms caused by the folds. These are forms we see in nature and our urban environment, making them familiar, if not inviting. He reveals his ability to make something interesting out of the mundane.

Allie McGhee, Visit, Mixed Media on Fiberglass 2015

Allie McGhee, Visit, Mixed Media on Fiberglass 2015

Not all of the work is on paper. Visit is a piece on folded canvas that has been coated in fiberglass and painted with loose strokes of paint. McGhee has said his work is informed by science, and refers to imagery that is close up, like through a lens, but it’s easy to see a shallow grid and re-jostled composition that works against formality. These works are a change from the flat abstractions of ten years ago with ovals and space-like compositions. The new works are flat ideas that have taken on the third dimension of physical depth and engage the viewer with draped compositions of muted color and a play on light.



Allie McGhee, Sacred Wrap, Mixed Media, on paper 2009

Allie McGhee, Sacred Wrap, Mixed Media, on paper 2009

















Like a worship robe that hangs waiting to be used, Sacred Wrap, could be a garment waiting to be worn for a special ceremony. The subtleties in white, blue and black are mixed media material on paper that come off the wall enough to cast deep and dramatic shadows. Whether inspired by science or the music of Eric Dolphy, Allie McGhee brings a nostalgic feel to these texturally rich reliefs that feel both powerful and lightly sensitive.

Carole Harris, Fiber Construction

Carole Harris, Melody Lingers, Fiber Construction















The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art opened a parallel exhibition by Carole Harris, a fiber artist who uses traditional quilting techniques to make abstract expressionistic compositions. “My work relies on improvisation,” Harris says. “I am fascinated by the rhythms and energy created when I cut and piece multiple patterns. I let the fabric and color lead me on the journey.”

For visual artists who quilt, Harris’s work transcends the traditional expectations we think of when mentioning quilting. In a reproduction, we see an abstract painting, dynamic in the use of color, line, shape and form. It’s only on closer observation that one realizes these are compositions executed using embroidery, stitchery and multiple patterns of cotton, silks and hand-dyed fabric.

N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art     Allie McGhee   Now & Then   April 15 – June 25, 2016



Matthew Bandsuch @ Popps Packing

“THE WAY IS NOT THE WAY” – Meandering through process with Matthew Bandsuch 


Matthew Bandsuch during his artist talk, alongside Pile, the largest work in the show, which took him months to execute

Artist Matthew Bandsuch has a successful career as an illustrator, providing satirical and figurative visual components to national publications including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The LA Times, and local ones such as Hour Detroit Magazine. The Detroit native and CCS graduate relocated to Chicago in 2001, and in addition to his illustration work, has nurtured a painting practice that has yielded inclusion in shows around Detroit and Chicago. “THE WAY NOT THE WAY” is a solo show of recent work exhibited at Popps Packing from March 26 through April 16, and demonstrated Bandsuch’s range as an artist and obsession with process.


Matthew Brandsuch, It is so. (left) and Brunt, oils on linen

The large-scale painted drawings (Bandsuch prefers to consider them “drawings” although they are made with paint on canvas) are filled with layer atop layer of visual noise, and would be arresting on their own, but are especially surprising in contrast to Bandsuch’s very legible work as an illustrator. When you consider that the definition of illustration is to illuminate or clarify a subject through visual example, Bandsuch’s paintings reveal a shadow side to his strengths as an illustrator—that of an abstractionist. During an artist talk for the show’s closing on April 16th, Bandsuch outlined the process that inspired the body of work on display, beginning with a single sculptural work—a smooth-planed and geometric “model of a rock” made from anthrachite coal, that he replicated in folding-paper form. Looking at the cut marks left behind in the process of creating the paper cutout, Bandsuch found the shapes that became the basis of abstract quasi-naturescapes that are the foundational imagery of the paintings on display. This source image allowed for Minimalist and reductive elements, as well as subject matter as close to meaninglessness as possible—a concept that again demonstrates an alter-ego alive within an illustrator soul. Bandsuch is not concerned with conveying meaning through these works, nor is he interested in the surface texture or color theory of painting (all of his colors were straight from the tube, or perhaps slightly mediated with white)—“THE WAY NOT THE WAY” is a deep meditation on process, resulting in imagery that illustrates a genealogy of mark and line, where each subsequent iteration between media or added layer inherits something from its predecessor, both replicating and altering it.


Matthew Brandsuch, Overcast, Ink, acrylic, oil on linen

In this way, each painting is like a network of memory  —wherein the original experience is altered each time it is recalled, adding or deleting pieces and reunifying them into the perceived memory. Several of Bandsuch’s pencil-on-paper drawings—“unintentional landscapes,” as he calls them—are on display, alongside the largest work in the show, a staggering wall-sized canvas in graphic black and white, with bold splashes of yellow. These and other drawings are translated to digital images, and sometimes painstakingly layered in Photoshop, before being projected directly onto canvas for transcription to the finished pieces. “As I’m going through, things are working or things are not working,” said Bandsuch, during his talk, pointing out the inevitable emergence of quasi-figurative elements; here a snippet of what looks like traditional Japanese wave painting, here a cartoony little face, here a cloud. As Bandsuch creates the paintings, he makes decisions to play up the chance elements, resulting in finished canvases that cannot be directly traced back to any single image, but represent the full inheritance and mutation of their genealogy. In the same way it might be considered that our bodies are really just vessels for genetic strains that connect us to the whole of human history, Bandsuch’s canvases might be considered vehicles for ideas that are riding through various physical manifestations throughout the whole of art history.


Matthew Brandsuch, Undergrowth, Oil on linen

The intensive work of meticulously shepherding these forms speaks to Bandsuch’s dedication and his obsession with the underlying processes of making. His artist talk makes it evident that this is a labor of love, which takes on new depth and literally increasing dimension at every turn. To borrow a phrase, it might be said of “THE WAY NOT THE WAY” that it is a true demonstration of journey as destination.

Kimia F. Kline @ the Elaine L. Jacobs Gallery

“As Above, So Below” –  Kimia Ferdowsi Kline and the wise conduct of life

Installation shot

Installation Image, Courtesy of the Detroit Art Review

The culmination of Kimia Ferdowsi Kline’s residency at Wayne State University, funded through the Basil Alkazzi Detroit Residency and the New York Foundation for the Arts, is a jewel-like array of visual storytelling that is currently on display at Elaine L. Jacob Gallery at Wayne State University. The impressive body of work revolves around a famous book of fables, Kalila and Dimna, in which a succession of interrelated stories featuring animal protagonists unfold, like Russian dolls, one emerging from the next. This foundational group of stories, originating in India and evolving through Persia, became the inspiration for the fables of Aesop and the Brothers Grimm, among others. Kline’s appreciation for the ancestry of a work of art is apparent, not only in her choice of subject matter, but in the conscious homage she pays to such painters as Henri Matisse, David Hockney, and Richard Diebenkorn in her lush, engaging work.

Image1Sunland 2015 Diptych of two panels

Kimia F. Kline, Sunland 2015 Diptych of two panels – All Images Courtesy of Clara DeGalan

The fables become a narrative clothesline on which Kline strings visual flights of fancy rendered in a vibrant California palette (Kline earned her MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute and speaks eloquently of her love for the California painters and their granddaddy, Matisse.) The paintings themselves strike an exuberant balance between Modern Western painting (Matisse’s abstract, sublimely lit grids, Diebenkorn’s broad fields of pulsating color that congeal into horizon-less landscapes) and the illustrative tradition of illuminated Persian miniature paintings (the collapsed, vertical placement of figures and movement that propel a story from one frame of action to the next, and that influenced artists of Matisse’s generation to free themselves from the shackles of Western linear perspective). Kline is just coming into the full flower of her abilities, and slings the paint with a joyful abandon that projects a moment to moment experience of absorbing, and distilling, her subject and her influences. Her smaller paintings are bombs of formal beauty and technical virtuosity- the off-hand yet incredibly nuanced treatment of the female figure in “Woman Bathing Two Jackals” kept beckoning from the corner of my eye as I perused her larger pieces, drawing me back again and again to wonder at the light-hearted, yet incredibly serious montage of symbols dancing around the picture plane.

Image 2 Woman Bathing Two Jackals 2015 Oil on Panel

Kimia F. Kline, Woman Bathing Two Jackals, 2015 – Oil on Panel

“Pomegranate Warrior” gave me the same experience, with a cinematic twist, following the rider out of the picture plane and into unknown regions. Kline’s best work in “As Above, So Below” does exactly that- engages the eye with the unbridled joy of her palette and dynamic composition, then subtly embeds itself in the subconscious for later unpacking.

Image 3 Pomogranate Warrior 2016 Oil on Panel

Kimia F. Kline, Pomogranate Warrior, 2016, Oil on Panel

The title of Kline’s show, “As Above, So Below,” derives from Hermetic teachings about the nature of the universe. According to this philosophy, the individual is a microcosm of the universe, and the raw material of everyday existence bears within it the traces of the divine matter from whence it came. This divinity is parsed as it makes its descent through the ages, picking up influences from history and experience. Kline’s work is a perfect visual distillation of that idea- she continually weaves fresh content from the materials and narratives of her ancestors, cultural and artistic. Her work is a refreshing reminder of all that we still have to sift through and re-arrange from the wisdom of those who came before us- and the myriad paths such a practice can help us to experience.

Image 4 As Above So Below 2016 Oil on Canvas

Kimia F. Kline, As Above So Below, 2016 – Oil on Canvas

“As Above, So Below” is on view at Elaine L. Jacob Gallery at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, through June 24, 2016


Dance! @ The Detroit Institute of the Arts

 DIA Presents a Multimedia Exhibition of Ninety works of American Art 1830-1960

How long have people been dancing? Probably longer than they were playing with fire. Nureyev captured the hearts of millions of ordinary people, while Baryshnikov stunned the critics and Martha Graham created the full-codified modern dance with her deviation from classical ballet.

Salvador at Podium Dance 3.2016

Director Salvador Salut-Pons at Podium introducing the Dance! 1830 – 1960 exhibition

 Coming off a very successful 30 Americans exhibition, Salvador Salort-Pons took the podium to introduce the new exhibition Dance! American Art 1830-1960, at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Opening March 29, 2016 the multimedia exhibition surveys the history of Dance in America as seen through the eyes of American Artists.

“This is the first major exhibition to explore visual art related to American dance. Dance has such a rich history and has touched all segments of American society,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA director. “This exhibition is not only about the representation of the art of dance, it explores how artists were inspired by how Americans move, how they interacted with each other and experienced the rhythm of music.”

It was clear from her remarks at the media preview that curator Jane Dini had been working on this exhibition since her time spent working at the DIA, and that this exhibition had been in development over the past five years. In Dance!, Ms. Dini has been able to create her life’s dream.

“In addition to the outstanding works of art, it was important for me to have the voice and expertise of dancers within the exhibition itself,” said Jane Dini, now associate curator of American Painting and Sculpture, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and curator of the exhibition. “They help illustrate how dance as an artistic form had an enormous impact on the fine arts, especially painting and sculpture.”


Video of Dancers – One of several through out the exhibition

 I never danced, but my parents were both professional dancers, which gave me some built-in personal interest. My parents were both recruited by a New York dance company in the mid-1930’s. In addition, in the 1980’s, I facilitated an artist-in-residency program in the Utica Schools, where we brought the Detroit City Dance Company, under the direction of Carole Morrisseau, into our forty schools over the period of a school year. Getting to know the day-to-day lives of dancers is something that stayed with me. I learned they lived in a physical world and often from moment to moment. The dancers had a unique devotion to their bodies, especially their ankles and feet.

Ms. Morrisseau is now a visual artist practicing in Detroit, and I caught up with her at the Scarab Club, “The concept of the current exhibit at the DIA is a credible one and exceptional in its undertaking. I believe there is a very strong relationship between the visual and performing arts. Hopefully this exhibit will expand the public’s view of the art of dance and visual art.” Carole Morrissieau will exhibit her visual artwork opening this month at the Scarab Club.

Arthur B. Davies

Arthur Bowen Davies, 1862 – 1928, Dances, 1915

Arthur B. Davies (1862-1928), often called an Ashcan painter, was an avant-garde American artist who spanned the boundaries between the 19th-century romantic tradition and early twentieth-century modernism in the United States. He was born in Utica, New York and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1878 and at the Art Students League in New York in 1887. His idyllic figurative pastorals are often said to harken back to Botticelli. Davies supported the new abstract movement and participated in the early formation of MoMA in New York City. His work was collected ahead of its time by the Phillips Collection. In Dances, 1915, Davies used faceted planes of color to define the moving figures, resulting in a pattern of color evoking a dance celebration.

Eastman Johnson Negro Life at the South

Eastman Johnson, Negro Life at the South 1859, Oil on Canvas

Genre painter Eastman Johnson (1824-1906) had a turning point in 1859 with the exhibition in New York of his Negro Life in the South. His ambiguous picture of the leisure activities of a group of slaves was a sensation at a time when the topic of slavery was being universally debated. In the painting, a mother encourages her son to dance to the music of a banjo player. Born in Maine, Eastman Johnson was educated in Europe, where he was inspired by the work of Dutch Masters. He is best known for his realistic portraiture and as a co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Henry Joseph Sharp, The Harvest Dance 1894

Henry Joseph Sharp, The Harvest Dance 1894, Oil on Canvas

Joseph Henry Sharp (1859-1953) was an American painter best known for his work painting Native Americans. Sharp was born in Bridgeport, Ohio to Irish immigrant parents and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts at Antwerp. Sharp’s first trip to the West was in 1883 at age 24. He visited pueblos in New Mexico, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Tucson. In his work, Harvest Dance, Sharp illustrates a strong skill set for painting the figure and depicting the sunlight on his subjects. Sharp went on to become one of the six founding members of the Taos Society of Artists.

Sargent Johnson Dance Hall Study

Sargent Claude Johnson, Dance Hall Study, 1935, Tempera, Watercolor, and Graphic on Illustration Board.

Born in Boston on October 7, 1887, Sargent Johnson was the third of six children of Anderson and Lizzie Jackson Johnson. Anderson Johnson was of Swedish ancestry, and his wife was Cherokee and African American. As a member of the bohemian San Francisco Bay community and influenced by the New Negro Movement, Sargent Johnson’s early work focused on racial identity. Johnson’s art ranged from African American masks to producing paintings of local folks and creating small, figurative sculptures. Dance Hall, a study in watercolor and graphite, was a study for the San Francisco Housing Authority mural.

Robert Henri Salome Dancer

Robert Henri, Salome Dancer, 1909, Oil on Canvas

Robert Henri (1865 – 1925) was a leading figure in the Ashcan School of American realism who helped organize a group known as “The Eight.” Henri studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and under Thomas Anshutz, a protégé of Thomas Eakins. Art critic Robert Hughes declared that, “Henri wanted art to be akin to journalism. He wanted paint to be as real as mud, as the clods of horse-shit and snow, that froze on Broadway in the winter, as real a human product as sweat, carrying the unsuppressed smell of human life.” When Henri painted the dancer in the role of Salome, a seductress from the New Testament, in 1909, it was rejected by the National Academy because the exposed leg was considered too controversial by the fine arts world. Robert Henri was a popular and influential teacher at the Art Students League of New York.

Paul ManshipDancer & Gaselle

Paul Manship, Dancer & Gasell, Bronze, 1916

Paul Manship (1885 – 1966) was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and began his art studies at the St. Paul School of Art in Minnesota. From there he moved to Philadelphia and continued his education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. At one time the country’s most famous exponent of Art Deco, he embraced archaic vocabularies of Greek, Roman and Indian art to create decorative, stylized, Neoclassical works. The statue in the fountain in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza, Prometheus (1933), is one of his most famous works. The bronze Dancer and Gazelles, was completed in 1916 and won the National Academy prize in 1917. The tension in the small areas between the figures emphasizes the dancers’ gestures, which command the gazelles’ movements.

Dance Diagram A Wharhol

Andy Wharhol, Dance Diagram, 1962, Casein and Graphite on Linen

Andy Warhol (1927 -1987) a leading American Artist who ushered in the Pop Art movement, began to make paintings of iconic American objects such as dollar bills, mushroom clouds, electric chairs, and the most famous Campbell’s Soup can. The New York opening at the Stable Gallery on November 6, 1962, was Warhol’s first one-man show and also where he first debuted Dance Diagram. It was presented in a series featuring six additional Dance Diagrams with the source material taken from the Dance Guild’s 1956 book Fox Trot Made Easy. It shows Warhol’s interest in selecting objects from American culture as subjects for his artwork.

Biba Bell, a Detroiter who recently completed her PhD in performance studies at N.Y.U., says, “The ways that dance is taken up symbolically within visual art is so interesting! I’m imagining that each piece produces these figures and forms in diverse and unique ways, but there is something about the dancer, the body that is dancing, filled with movement and the moment and a kind of excess of life/ liveliness that is astounding and so important when depicting any culture.”

If you’re not a dance aficionado, Dance! American Art 1830 -1960 at the DIA might spark your interest, and while you’re in New York City, get tickets to see An American in Paris, by the Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon who has created a critical and commercial success breaking new ground by bringing ballet to Broadway set to the music of the Gershwins.

I recall, my father watching black & white films of Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers for hours, and he tap-danced into his eighties. When I was very young, attending a family wedding, my parents did something rare; They danced. Everyone gathered around to watch them exhibit their talents publicly for maybe the last time. I was so very proud.

The Detroit Institute of Arts deserves credit for this curatorial creation of its own that will travel to the Denver Art Museum, July 10 – October 2, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, October 22, 2016 – January 16, 2017.

Exhibition tickets are $14 for adults, $10 for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents, $7 for ages 6–17, $5 for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county residents ages 6–17, and free for DIA members. Admission is free every Friday. School groups need to register in advance. Tickets at or 313-833-4005