Elise Ansel & Al Held @ David Klein Galleries

Installation image, courtesy of the David Klein Gallery, photo by Samantha Schefman

Both exhibitions delayed their openings this spring because of the Covid 19 pandemic, but now, each are on display separately at the two galleries. The new exhibition of oil paintings at David Klein downtown, Palimpsest, is a collection of eleven works of art by Elise Ansel.

You ask yourself where do artists get their ideas for a painting?  Is it from observation, photographs, events, setting up objects, imagination or from the depths of the collective unconscious?  The answer is usually all or a mix of the above. Artists bring their own experience to the creation.

Elise Ansel finds motivation in historical works of art from which she reconstructs a realistic representational work of art using abstract expressionism as her vehicle. The work in this exhibition bases its reconstructions on Old Master paintings from the Detroit Institute of Arts collection.

She says in her statement, “I create by translating Old Master paintings into a contemporary pictorial language. I mine art historical imagery for color, structure, and meaning. Thus, my paintings use the Old Masters as points of departure. They move into Abstraction by transforming the representational content, which is obfuscated and ultimately eclipsed by my focus on color, gesture, and the materiality of paint. I interrupt linear, rational readings so that the real subject becomes the substance and surface of oil paint, the range of its applications, and the ways in which it can be used to celebrate life. My work deconstructs both pictorial language and authorial agency to excavate and liberate meanings buried beneath the surface of the works from which my paintings spring.”

Elise Ansel, Hybrid 1, Oil on canvas, 48 x 36, all images courtesy of the David Klein Gallery

 

Rachel Ruysch, Flowers in a Glass Vase, Oil on canvas, 33 X 26, 1704, Image courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts

The work Hybrid 1 draws on the Ruysch still life and attracts the viewer in a multitude of ways. Set against a black background, the textured strokes, color palette,  Miro-like delicacy and  expressive linework renders a kind of feminine harmony. Hybrid 1 plays off Rachel Ruysch’s Flowers in a Glass Vase, 1704,  and leaves the experience wide open to interpretation.  The most profound concept here is that we all bring our own personal experience to a work of art. So when I view the Ruysch still life, where do I go?  Handsomely composed and decorated, like the photograph of an apple, it leaves little room for interpretation.

Studio, Elise Ansel

Elise Ansel, Judith lll, Oil on Canvas, 72 x 56″,

The same concept applies to the reconstruction of Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith 1. Ansel goes to great lengths in the interpretation by writer Mary Garrard with references to her book, Reclaiming Female Agency: Feminist Art History After Post Modernism, in which she writes, “The cultural habit of seeing woman as an object-to-be-looked-at, the site of scopophilic pleasure” is denied and replaced with a focus on the artist hand.  What exactly is being killed in Gentileschi’s painting: toxic scopophilia and the myth of white supremacy.” Forgive me, but there aren’t too many psychiatrists who use Sigmund Freud in their practice these days.

Ansel’s paintings are vibrant and compelling in their execution.  Using an extra-large brush stroke of vibrant colored oil paint against these mostly dark backgrounds without reference to Caravaggio or Rembrandt would work just fine.  Some paintings retain images from Old Master works she has dissected, while others are pure abstractions whose relationship to any source is invisible. The visit to the museum feels more like contrivance and is not needed for this viewer as the paintings stand on their own and express their own individual form of abstract expressionism.

Elise Ansel, a native of New York City, is a graduate of Brown University and earned an MFA from Southern Methodist University. Her work has been exhibited widely in the United States and abroad and is in multiple private and public collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Krakow, Poland, Brown University, Providence, RI, and Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME. Elise Ansel lives and works in Portland, Maine.

 

Al Held @ David Klein – Birmingham

Al Held, Installation, All images courtesy of David Klein Gallery

For this exhibition, David Klein draws on the Al Held Foundation for a modest show of Al Held watercolors from the early 1990s, which were painted mostly near Rome, Italy, at his studio on Janiculum Hill sometime after his residency at the American Academy (1981-82) where he spent time creating his watercolors and studying what some would call the Renaissance vision.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1928, Al Held grew up in the East Bronx, the son of a poor Polish family thrown into the stresses of welfare during the depression. He showed little interest in art until leaving the Navy in 1947, where he enrolled in the Art Students League of New York. In 1951, with support from the G.I. Bill, Held traveled to Paris for two years to study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. In Paris, he decided that realism was not for him and moved into Abstraction and worked alongside the early 50s abstract expressionists. The single major retrospective of his career remains the survey curated by Marcia Tucker at the Whitney in 1974, which traced his development from his heavily pigmented, gestural Expressionist paintings in the 1950s, to his pioneering of flatly rendered geometric Abstraction in the context of post-painterly Abstraction in the 1960s, to his veering off on his own path in his reintroduction of illusionism into abstract painting in the early 1970s.

Installation image

Al Held, Tesoro 14, Watercolor on Paper mounted on board, 31 x 40″, 1993

The watercolors are dominated with geometric shapes, often either suspended in space or moving backward in perspective.  The use of primary color played against secondary color creates a convergence of color and shape.  Some of these paintings have horizontal windows, reminding me at times of Diego Rivera without the use of the figure.  These futuristic landscapes defined by complexly organized architectural scaffolds are not grounded nor do they pay attention to an outside light source; instead, they darken the interior of a cube or box. Inspired by Renaissance conceptions of the universe, one could see classical compositions that are topless or bottomless, juxtaposed to Mondrian, firmly planted on earth. These works on paper are stretched on stretcher frames and float in their picture frames, much like an oil painting.

Al Held (1928-2005) was one of the last and best of the big-impact abstract painters to emerge from the postwar era.  My personal favorite in this exhibition is Tesoro 14  that moves horizontally, right to the left, in a circular motion like a giant cog in a wooden windlass that harnesses and transfers energy.  The use of color complements is dominated by primaries and a centered composition that generates its densely packed strength.

In 1962, Held was appointed Associate Professor of Art at Yale University in 1962. He was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1966. He has also been included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago, to name a few. His work is in the public collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

At David Klein Galleries, both exhibitions are on display through August 22, 2020.

Museums & Galleries @ Detroit Art Review

No one saw this coming and it will be part of our history forever.  Covid 19 has affected every part of our lives, and every part of humanity around the world. For us, it has closed down our favorite museums and galleries and deprived us of our love of art and artists. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered that libraries and museums may reopen June 8 but must adhere to workplace rules already released for retailers. That means capacity limits, mandatory masks and other safety protocols.

As of 06/5/2020, the writers at the Detroit Art Review:  K.A. Letts, Jonathan Rinck, Kim Fay and myself have tried to provide an update on our sponsors status and any information that looks forward into the upcoming summer and fall months.

Detroit Institute of Arts

The DIA Education Staff has several learning resources available for educators, parents, and students from home. School Field Trips From Home >  The DIA’s collection is available online to browse and learn from wherever you are. You can also explore our upcoming and past exhibitions. They have created Community Partnership Connection where the reader can enjoy online video, slideshows, images and more. For Community Partnership Connection > You can enjoy the work of the DIA’s community partners online through video, slideshows, images and more. The opening of the museum is yet to be determined. Up Coming Exhibitions:

Russ Marshall: Detroit Photographs, 1958-2008 – November 15, 2020

Detroit Style: Car Design in the Motor City  – November 15,  2020

Van Gogh in America – October 2, 2022

Cranbrook Museum of Art

Cranbrook Museum is closely following the recommendations of the CDC and the State of Michigan in order to keep visitors safe  during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Measures taken include deep cleaning throughout the museum, especially in high-traffic areas, sanitizing  doorknobs and frequent disinfection of the area around the front desk. Signage has been added in bathrooms to encourage handwashing. At this time, the Museum is planning to reopen to members on July 8, and to the general public on July 12, subject to change if the Governor’s stay at home order is extended.

Toledo Museum of Art

The Toledo Museum of Art provided the Detroit Art Review the following summary of its current status and the varied ways it is offering content until its doors re-open:

In the time since it temporarily closed to the public on March 15, the Toledo Museum of Art has been developing plans for both a safe return to work for its staff and reopening the galleries to the public. While a reopening date has not been set at this time, TMA is waiting on guidance from government agencies so that when it is safe to do so, we can reopen as soon as possible. TMA has broadened its digital efforts to stay connected to its visitors over the past few months, creating a special section of its website called TMA at HOME. There visitors will find a wide variety of videos, activities and other resources to keep engaged with the Toledo Museum of Art while the galleries are closed. The Museum also launched two community art projects: a COVID-19 Virtual Quilting Bee and the TMA Teen Leader Virtual Talent Show. Entries for the virtual quilting bee are due Monday, June 22 (https://www.toledomuseum.org/quilting-bee) and the virtual talent show will take place on the Museum’s Instagram (@toledomuseum) Saturday, June 6. Additionally, TMA just announced an initial series of virtual art classes to take place later this month. Registration is open, with classes for families, youth and adults.

Flint Art Institute

The Flint Art Institute has yet to establish a re-opening date.  In a brief statement to the Detroit Art Review, the FIA asserted that when the museum opens, it will be in accordance to Michigan’s state mandates, and will adhere to best practices established nationally and regionally for museums.  All public programming (such as weekly events, art classes, and the FOMA film series) has been canceled through June 30.  When the museum reopens, the exhibitions Postscriptand Monumental: The Art of Viola Frey will be on view.  In the meantime, the FIA has placed an impressive amount of multimedia content on its website, which features a digital catalogue of its collection, museum highlights accompanied with audio guides, and videos of public lectures and discussions.

Broad Art Museum

Michigan State University’s Broad Art Museum is working on a multi-phased plan for re-opening, but as Michigan’s state mandates are fluid, there is currently no firm date established for re-opening.  The museum is in close conversation with the University and other museums regarding best practices for health and safety, as well as how to bring more content into digital space.  The Broad’s website provides links to virtual walkthroughs of its current lead exhibitions: the 2020 Master of Fine Arts Exhibition, and Beyond Words: 2020 Curatorial Practices. Follow the Broad’s Facebook page for frequent digital content, including a 3D walkthrough of the museum, and “Studio (in)Prosses at Home” –the museum’s weekly studio demonstration delivered via Facebook Live.

University of Michigan of Art

The University of Michigan Museum of Art does not have a re-opening date, but a spokesperson says it is planning on following the lead of the University of Michigan pending an announcement of plans for the fall semester.  When it does re-open, it will adhere to necessary social distancing and sanitary practices in order to keep the public, its students, and its staff as safe as possible.   The UMMA has been busy developing new ways for guests to experience the UMMA online, including its recently launched UMMA at Home, the online hub for its digital programming.  Here, visitors will find a robustly multimedia array of educational materials, activities, virtual tours, virtual events, and collection highlights which can be explored by theme.  There’s even downloadable coloring pages and zoom backgrounds inspired by the UMMA’s collection.

David Klein Galleries

Assuming the current Stay At Home Order is relaxed on June 8th and not extended , the galleries  plan to open exhibitions on June 20th.

The artists showing will be Elise Ansel in Detroit and Al Held in Birmingham. The openings will be on Saturday 6/20 and Sunday 6/21, from 12- 6. Reservations for 1 hour time slots in each location will be required. There is a maximum number of visitors allowed during each time slot, 10 per hourin Detroit, 4 per hour in Birmingham; those numbers will be confirmed in the exhibition announcement.  Visitors must wear masks and observe social distancing.

All of the details and guidelines will be in the show  announcements and on the website as well as on social media. Both galleries are open by appointment and Tuesday – Saturday during regular business hours. Openings will be postponed if Governor Whitmer extends the stay at home order.

Simone DeSousa Gallery

 Simone DeSousa Gallery is pleased to participate in FAIR, presented by the New Art Dealers Association (NADA). This is a new art fair initiative designed to be entirely online, function cooperatively, and act as a benefit for NADA’s community of galleries, nonprofits and artists. Taking place May 20–June 21, 2020, FAIR will directly support 119 NADA Gallery Members and 81 other galleries that have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, totaling nearly 200 galleries around the world.

Each participating gallery will present a series of artworks over four-weeks with the opportunity to share new artworks each week. The initiative will also feature a series of online performances, studio visits and talks to complement the artworks presented by participating galleries and artists. FAIR, produced in collaboration with Artlogic, utilizes their Online Viewing Rooms service and is generously hosted by them.

Simone DeSousa Gallery’s FAIR featured artist is Mark Newport who was born in Amsterdam, NY and attended the Kansas City Art Institute (BFA) and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA). He is currently the Artist-in-Residence and Head of Fiber at the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

The gallery is currently exhibiting On the Fly by Michael Luchs. Detailed installation shots and images of all the works are now available online on the gallery website, as well as on our Artsy page, where you are able to zoom into the works, and also inquire about purchase.

Wasserman Projects

Wasserman Projects is carefully monitoring the situation with COVID-19. We will adhere to terms of the Executive Order for the State, which will inform our decisions on reopening procedures and what best serves our artists and audiences.

Wasserman Projects has been hosting small group (15 – 25 ppl) – guided tours of the current exhibitions. DOROTA + STEVE COY: The Five Realms and Adrian Wong: Tiles, Grates, Poles, Rocks, Plants, and Veggies

Along with our online galleries and increased content on social platforms, a virtual tour leads you through the exhibition via Zoom with a combination still and moving images. The tour simulates the experience of walking through the space and is enhanced with commentary from Alison Wong and the exhibiting artists. We may continue and or adapt this model when things begin to reopen.

Wasserman is hoping and planning for the best scenarios, and looking forward to everyone seeing the current exhibitions in person. That said, Wasserman has committed to extending the current exhibitions through August 15 and will determine if necessary, or possible, to extend further as that date nears.

N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art

 The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art has a reopening date tentatively scheduled for Mid-July.

Our summer-fall exhibition schedule will present, Detalles “Details”, an exhibition of small works, featuring local artist Mel Rosas in the Rose Gallery.  The Main Gallery and Black Box Gallery will showcase “Sign of the Times”, Selected Abstract Works from the N’Namdi Collection. Each of the works from this remarkable collection demonstrates the evolution of the African American community and the influence of African American artist, prior to, in the height of, and beyond the Civil Rights movement, representing the breadth and depth of how African Americans are only now getting their due.

As we anticipate the art world will continue to be influenced by this new reality of social distancing.  We look forward to returning to our beautiful space and opening our doors to your virtually and with limited public access.

There are a few things we will be doing around the gallery to make your art-viewing experience as safe and comfortable as possible for you, as well as for our staff. We feel fortunate that our gallery space is large and open, and hope this makes you comfortable to pop in for a visit. We look forward to smiling at you from behind our protective masks, knowing that you will be smiling back from behind yours. We will have hand sanitizer available for you upon your arrival and we will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you have before your visit, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

K.OSS Contemporary Art

K.OSS Contemporary Art has determined to remain closed until October, 2020 for now, but will continue to monitor the situation and will reopen when it can ensure the safety of its staff, artists and audience. The upcoming exhibition is a series of paintings by American Artist Lloyd Martin. The exhibit, “Monument,” features a collection of large-scale works that beautifully reflect the artist’s thematic, abstract compositions. The day for the opening is still not clear, but will make the announcement when it’s known.

K.OSS has been invited to participate in Art Mile, a community engagement platform and digital exhibition dedicated to championing Detroit’s arts community that will launch June 25–July 1. Details on this event to follow.

Oakland University Art Gallery 

As Oakland University’s Emergency Response Team (ERT), we are committed to sharing the most up-to-date, relevant information regarding OU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please check this page frequently as facts and information is changing rapidly.

If you have a question, please call the OU Crisis Communication Hotline (248) 556-3330. Someone will be available between Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. to help answer your questions.

Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum

The Museum is temporarily closed at this time. The opening is to be determined.  Click here to access our Virtual Engagement offerings. Email mfsm@svsu.edu or call 989-964-7125 to leave a message. We will get back to you within 24 hours.

Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center

In response to State of Michigan “Stay at Home” mandate, the BBAC is closed until further notice. The BBAC open date is to be determined.  Michigan Fine Arts Competition will be a virtual exhibit.

For further information, please monitor our eblasts and website, which will be updated accordingly. The current exhibits are up until June, 18, 2020 and call our main number to schedule an appointment to view in person. All children’s camps will be virtual.  We will still have several adult workshops on site depending on dates.

BBAC exhibits – tour online – CLICK HERE

Image Works

Image Works specializes in archival pigment printing, also known as giclée or inkjet printing, for reproducing photographic and fine art imagery. We also provide a number of digital services including high resolution artwork captures, film & slide scanning, portfolio printing, posters, and prepress proofing.  As of Monday, June 8th, Image Works will begin accepting visitors to the gallery by appointment only, Monday through Saturday. You may email or call ahead the same day or book a time a few days in advance. We will ensure that there is no overlap in visitors. We will ask visitors to wear face masks while in the gallery until the state advises otherwise.  We are also offering our printing and scanning services by appointment at this time. Please visit www.imageworksfineart.com for current exhibition information or call 503-449-0964.

 

 

 

Roy Feldman @ M Contemporary Art

Photographer Roy Feldman’s exhibition at M Contemporary Art: Truth & Grace In Hamtramck

Roy Feldman, Untitiled, Archival Pigment, signed and edition numbered prints, 11 X 14″ All images courtesy of M Contemporary Art.

Truth & Grace in Hamtramck was in the planning for a year and scheduled to open on March 20, 2020, at the M Contemporary Art in Ferndale, but the state order to “Stay at Home” by Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan made those plans impossible.  As a result, I asked the gallery owner, Melannie Chard, to allow me to view the images online and proceed with a review. I had viewed Feldman’s photographs over the years and seen several images in person, which gave me enough perspective to proceed in this peculiar and highly unusual endeavor: write a review from art viewed online.

In the image Untitled, where a woman applies mascara, four planes of focus are: the foreground, head, hands, eyeliner brush, followed by the reflection in the mirror, followed by the interior of the salon, followed by the houses across the street. The viewer is drawn into the center of the image where it is split in half near the eyelid, asymmetry that almost goes unnoticed. All of this feels conscious and unconscious as Feldman probes the variations from black to gray to white.

Roy Feldman, a Detroit-based photographer and Emmy award-winning filmmaker with many years of experience as a photojournalist, grew up in Detroit and earned his BFA from the College of Creative Studies and worked for several years as a commercial photographer. Feldman worked for the Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., the U.S. Department of Energy, the North American International Auto Show, the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation, and Big Boy Restaurants International (to mention a few) to earn a living, all the while he maintained his personal art of still photography.

Roy Feldman, Untitiled, Archival Pigment, signed and edition numbered prints, 11 X 14″

Photography, in general, has undergone a revolution over the past fifty years.  The digital revolution that began with the production of stand-alone cameras, then evolved to the high-quality camera in every smartphone, has had a tremendous effect on the commercial photographic industry.  It has put freelancers out of business, shifted imagery to large stock image corporations like Getty Images, Shutterstock and Adobe Stock, and in combination with the Internet delivery capacity, it gave their images access to clients worldwide.  Also, it instantly made every person with a smartphone a photographer.  I say this because it did not make everyone an artist. It is the gray matter which resides between ones ears, that creates the artist, not in any type of technology old or new.  As we trace that core concept from Daguerreotype, Eastman Kodak, Louis Lumiere, 35 mm Leica, Canon, and Nikon single-lens cameras, Hasselblad and the digital work that began at the AT&T Bell labs in1969, for capturing and creating an image based on pixels, the artists and their application has been the same since the mid-1840s. The capture of a photo image takes place in our hearts, our heads and our souls.

The work of Roy Feldman is a product of seeing and creating an image, no matter what the recording device. I purposely did not ask him about his process, nor these tools, whether digital or film, darkroom or computer because it doesn’t matter. Feldman said. “I wanted them to look like they could have been taken yesterday or 40 years ago. I really want to make it a piece of art. When you take a picture of something, you’re personally involved.”

Roy Feldman, Untitiled, Archival Pigment, signed and edition numbered prints, 11 X 14″

Historically there is a large body of black & white artwork by world-renowned photographers, mostly from the 20th century, that may put Feldman in context: Andre Kertesz, Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Frank, to name only a few. Feldman’s image of a man at a bus stop reminds me of early Kertesz while in Paris, by approaching his subject from above and developing this high contrast crisscross composition, with white-glove action surrounded with the geometric shapes. Feldman works hard at bringing reflections into his images, as he does here with the circular tree grate reflection off the bus stop glass, reminding me of Otto Steinert’s  Pedestrian’s Foot (1950).

Roy Feldman, Untitiled, Archival Pigment, signed and edition numbered prints, 11 X 14″

The strength in Feldman’s composition here at this street fair is the formally centered and dominating woman sitting in the middle of a street, down very low with a wide-angle lens and the right amount of light that provides this kind of crisp focus on the subject and a backdrop of soft-focus using depth of field. In this one point perspective image, the evenness of light is seen on a cloudy day, with a small shadow cast from the concert-style chair, as this young woman views her smartphone. She reminds us of our own humanity.

Roy Feldman, Untitiled, Archival Pigment, signed and edition numbered prints, 11 X 14″

Roy Feldman, Untitiled, Archival Pigment, signed and edition numbered prints, 11 X 14″

Here in this image of a woman walking in the rain we notice the format 2 x 2 provides the square frame.  Feldman’s lens gets wet, creating a spontaneous blur that he likes and keeps.  In addition, for this exhibition, he converts a color image to black and white that fits nicely into the other photos. The strength in the color image is the red coat and blue umbrella center stage, grabbing our attention on the woman holding the umbrella, perhaps on the way to her car.

Roy Feldman, Untitiled, Archival Pigment, signed and edition numbered prints, 11 X 14″

One of the hallmarks of many photographers I have mentioned before is the “moment in time” concept.  There was a time when people would debate calling a photograph art, and this concept would be used in an attempt to differentiate photography from painting or drawing. This artistic prejudice has faded over the years and is now a thing of the past, but more importantly, does it really matter?  I think not. The image that catches a young girl about to jump out the window of a parked van, probably being used as a clubhouse, not so different from Robert Capra’s Death of a Loyalist Soldier (1936), both weighing heavily on a moment in time.  The young girl is looking directly into Feldman’s camera, wondering if she has gotten caught in her escapade, while soft tree leaves in the foreground frame the subject like a 1970’s Kaufman & Broad illustration of their tract homes. (I used to paint those on illustration board for Detroit architect David Hamburg)

What ties the exhibition together is more than the format or dominance of black & white photography. It’s the honesty and humanity of Feldman’s work. He searches out the world of Hamtramck, a separate city with borders inside the City of Detroit, once a working-class Catholic Polish community and now the gateway to more than fifty nationalities. The elderly wooden homes are packed together like sardines, and the artists that live in and around them, live on the edges of life, eking out an existence and a celebration of truthful nomads.

In his statement, “My current ongoing series is devoted to creating an aesthetic event, where there is no political agenda, no documentation, with no intent to describe a subject or place.  If my picture is easily summed up in a sentence, I feel I will have failed. I’d rather it be described as “well you really have to see it.”

Let’s hope that at some point in time, people will be able to do just that.

Photographer Roy Feldman’s exhibition at M Contemporary Art: Truth & Grace In Hamtramck

 

 

Stewart & Stewart Fine Art Prints @ BBAC

Installation Image, Glimpse: Fine Print Selections from 1980-2020 is on view in the Kantgias-DeSalle Gallery, All images courtesy of Stewart & Stewart

The Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center opens and celebrates forty years of independent printmaking and publishing by Norman and Susan Stewart. Glimpse: Fine Print Selections from 1980-2020 is on view in the Kantgias-DeSalle Gallery. 

From the beginning of the 1980 decade, not far off Telegraph and Quarton Road, sets a small bungalow converted from a gardener’s house, once part of the Book Family summer estate, on Wing Lake that would become the studio for the master printer Norman Stewart.  Fresh from his MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1977, he continued his work as an artist, and began the process of inviting artists to come and reside in the studio to create their editions in printmaking. Likely one of a kind in the country, the renovation included living quarters to the visiting artist leading to a vibrant and productive relationship that would last for many years.

Although there are several exceptions, the majority of work presented by Stewart & Stewart is screenprinting, (occasionally known as “silkscreen,” or “serigraphy”) where ink is pushed through an applied stencil on a stretched fabric frame against the surface of the paper. Sometimes there is only one screen (Martha Diamond, Vignettes) in this exhibition and as many as 32 screens ( Hugh Kepets, Astor and Catherine Kernan, Traversal I) for a single print.  Unlike many other printmaking processes, a press is not required, as screenprinting is essentially stencil printing and usually produced in editions.

Although early roots of screenprinting can be traced to the ancient Orient,  the artistic expression that began in the United States was in the 1930s. Among the earliest were Harry Gottlieb, and Ruth Chaney, that went on to include nationally known artists such as Josef Albers, Bridget Riley, and Andy Warhol. Although we see other printmaking techniques by artists used in this exhibition that include archival pigment prints, relief prints, lithographs, cliche’-verre, and intaglio prints such as etchings and aquatints, none of these execute the kind of cumulative range of modulation, color, and transparency, and surface treatment as thoroughly as the screenprinting process.

Nancy Sojka former curator of Prints and Drawings, Detroit Institute of Arts remarked,  “These prints are a small part of Norm and Susan Stewart’s living legacy which currently stands at more than two hundred editions — excluding additional 100-plus monoprints by several different artists from among the thirty-five with whom they have collaborated. This prodigious body of work could not have been realized without having a bold vision tempered with sound judgment, extremely hard work, good bookkeeping, and a persistently positive outlook. Over the course of these last four decades the Stewarts have remained true to a central guiding principle.”

Judy McReynolds Bowman (American),  Mom in Harlem, 22″ x 30″ archival pigment print, 2020.

Judy Bowman’s work has arrived on the art scene in Detroit after a hiatus from working as an educator in the Detroit Public School System and raising her family of ten children.  After graduating from high school, she began taking art classes at Spelman College, Atlanta, while adding  classes at Morris Brown College and Clark Atlanta University, majoring in Art.  The large paper collages as in Mary Don’t You Weep,  flatten perspective and call out to Romare Bearden to appear, are reflections on her rich life experiences.  Her focus relies heavily on composition and color, and folk felt subjects that seem to be filled with images of family, relationships, love and faith, and the African American community.  The honesty of Bowman is in full force in these slices of colorful cut and pasted paper.

Janet Fish (American), Leyden, 12-color screenprint,  28.5″ x 41”, 1991

Janet Fish is known primarily for her densely detailed, richly colored, complexly composed still life work often lit with an intensity that matches its informational overload, Fish revels in the delightful inherent contradictions of her elective craft. The objects that serve as armatures for color and light in her work are exuberant in their state of flux.  The conceptual, formal, and iconographic history of the still life genre confirms our own experience.  Fish earned her MFA from Yale in 1963 and is an artist who does oil painting as well as printmaking, lives in New York City, and Middleton Springs VT, and is represented by the DC Moore Gallery. During her evolution, her fellow classmates included Chuck Close, Nancy Graves, Robert Mangold, and Richard Serra. The tight-knit group who formed an intense, ambitious, competitive genus that motivated one another to develop and defend their work. In her work, Leyden, light plays the leading role in both subject and background. Janet Fish created ten fine art screenprint editions in residence at Stewart & Stewart’s Wing Lake Studio starting in 1991, and her impressive body of work included a fine art screenprint edition commissioned by the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1996.

Jane E. Goldman (American), Ellen’s Window 20-color screenprint, 29.75″ x 21.75″, 1990.

In her work, Ellen’s Window, the 20-color screenprint, looks down from above with this elegant diagonal composition of a bowl of fruit, cups on a tray, and window reflections. She says in her statement, “I make art to wake up, to dream, to understand, to speak to my colleagues, the world. My media includes painting and printmaking.” A nationally recognized painter and printmaker, she has taught at Massachusetts College of Art, UCLA, Rice University, and Hartford Art School; and been a visiting artist at many institutions, including Harvard University and Artist Proof Studio, South Africa. Jane Goldman was born in Dallas, Texas, and earned her B.A. degree from Smith College and M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin.

Richard Bosman (Australian)  Rear View Night B, monoprint/hand painted, 21.75″ x 29.75″,  2017

Richard Bosman’s  Rear View Night B, is one monoprint/hand painted, as part of a series of images that include this review view mirror composition. The print image has a naturalistic palette with expressionistic additions of white, pushing toward the viewer with a kind of aggressive intimacy. Over the years, he has a list of themes that have driven the work: Profiles, Copy Cats, Doors, Artist’s Studios, Modern Life, Rough Terrain, American History, and Wilderness.  Bosman was born in Madras, India, in 1944 and raised in Egypt and Australia. He studied at the Byam Shaw School of Painting and Drawing in London from 1965 – 69 and at the New York Studio School from 1969 – 71. Bosman is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and his work has been exhibited extensively, including solo shows at numerous international galleries, as well as in group exhibitions at venues including the Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center, the Whitney Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum. The artist lives and works in New York City and Esopus, NY.

Hunt Slonem (American) Lucky Charm, 3-color screenprint,  41″ x 28.5″, 1997

Since 1977, Hunt Slonem has had more than 350 exhibitions at prestigious galleries and museums internationally. His work, Lucky Charm, is just a part of his many portraits of exotic birds, insects, and a variety of animals executed in a loose and expressionistic style that often includes the repetition of bright, colorful images with black outlines. His Neo-Expressionistic paintings of rabbits and tropical birds may be based on his personal aviary.  Slonem says. “But I’m more interested in doing it in the sense of prayer, with repetition… It’s really a form of worship.”  He studied painting at Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Scowhegan, ME; of Painting & Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN; and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Tulane University of Louisiana. Slonem’s works can be found in the permanent collections of 250 museums internationally, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Joan Miro’ Foundation.

Those who specialize in printmaking, understand that there is a close collaboration that is required between an artist and a printer in realizing any print, of course with an occasional artist who works entirely alone based on a specialized set of circumstances. Stewart’s approach is a balance between his own sensibility and that of the artist supporting the creative thought and conception with the technical sequence required by the process.  The outcome is a paradoxical blend of formal and non-formal elements that the viewer reads simultaneously. The appearance of around the clock ease masks the strenuous work, complex technical skill, and long hours that actually define the activities of the artists.  Stewart, often accompanied by assistants, has brought hundreds of new editions and monoprints, into being for the last forty years.

For a partnership in printmaking that has endured for forty years, it is important to recognize Norman and Susan Stewart and their steadfast years of work.  Both were born in Detroit, and attended the University of Michigan for their undergraduate work. Norm’s graduate work at the  University of Michigan and Cranbrook Academy of Art, and Susan’s graduate work at the University of Michigan provided the base for their success. It is a relationship where each skill set has complimented the other to produce a world class collaboration of art, design, and master printmaking.

Stewart & Stewart has published an on-line catalog:  Collaboration in Print, now available at StewartStewart.com to read and/or download for later reference.

Each artist name in this exhibition and catalog has a link to his/her images and biography.

Jack Beal, Richard Bosman, Judy McReynolds Bowman, Nancy Campbell, Susan Crile, Martha Diamond, Connor Everts, Janet Fish, Sondra Freckelton, John Glick
Jane E. Goldman, C. Dennis Guastella, Keiko Hara, John Himmelfarb, Sue Hirtzel, Sidney Hurwitz, Yvonne Jacquette, Hugh Kepets,  Catherine Kernan,  Clinton Kuopus, Daniel Lang, Ann Mikolowski, Jim Nawara, Lucille Procter Nawara, Don Nice,  Mary Prince, Mel Rosas, Jonathan Santlofer, Jeanette Pasin Sloan, Hunt Slonem, Steven Sorman, Norman Stewart, Paul Stewart, Richard Treaster, Titus Welliver

The  Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center’s exhibition  Glimpse, produced by Stewart & Stewart now runs through June 18, 2020 by appointment.  Simply call the BBAC at 248.644.0866 in advance of your planned visit.

 

Explorations in Wood @ Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum

Installation image, Center for Art in Wood, 2020

A traveling exhibition from the Center for Art in Wood, based in Philadelphia, opened January 24, 2020 at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum with a selection of 70 objects that range in size from an egg to a motorcycle, and are extraordinarily rich in the variety of wood types. The works come from all parts of the globe and have been gathered for over a forty-year period. The decision to bring the touring exhibition to the MFSM was made by the now retired director Marilyn Wheaton two years ago and in addition to the Henry Luce Foundation,  was made possible with support from the Michigan Council For Arts and Cultural Affairs.

Ted Hunter (Canada), Once Upon a Sandbank, Cherry, 1985

From the CAW museum’s collection of over 1,200 objects, this exhibition was curated by Andy McGivern who says in his statement, “Our dependence on – and love for – wood cannot be overstated. It’s integral to our very existence in a range of ways, encompassing our man-made environments as well as both utilitarian and decorative items. The organic qualities of wood, our ability to manipulate its shape, its abundance, and its renewable potential are among the reasons wood permeates our culture – including the art world. The seventy objects  comprising Explorations in Wood are a small sample of the work held in the collection of Philadelphia’s Center for Art in Wood, gathered over a forty-year period.”

Hugh McKay (United States) Tripot #5, Spalted Maple, 1995

These works stem from a love of wood and display a rich variety of wood types. Processes are varied including wood-turned vessels as well as more sculptural forms. Many celebrate the natural beauty of wood, evident in rich warm-brown tones and assorted grain patterns, typical of materials gathered from around the globe.

Carl R. Pittman (United States) Welcome to the New Paradigm, Silver Maple, white milk paint, waxed linen, steel wax, 2011

While many of the artworks might beg to be touched due to the enticingly tactile nature of wood, it’s the design and form of each that were the basis for selection. Variety and handling also were criteria, noting that some artists, after maximizing the manipulative qualities of wood then use paint to highlight an object’s form. Others combine multiple wood types, creating forms with contrasting colors or manipulating shapes to expose varied natural and machined textures. These approaches and others highlight the diversity and unlimited potential of wood.

Mark Bishop (Tasmania) Muti Layer Sphere I & II, Wood, bleach, dye, 1997

Little known to most, Dorothy Arbury of Midland, Michigan studied with the famous Marshall Fredericks when she attended Kingswood School when he was invited by Carl Milles to join the staffs of Cranbrook Academy of Art and Cranbrook and Kingswood School in Bloomfield HillsMichigan. It was she and her husband who were on the founding Board of Control at Saginaw Valley College in 1965, and worked together to establish the fine arts facilities that included the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum in 1988.

Marshall Fredericks’ “The Spirit Of Detroit” sculpture, sits in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, in Detroit, Michigan on JULY 21, 2012. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is a free and open to the public museum which features a unique collection of more than two thousand objects that span the 70-year career of Detroit-based public sculptor Marshall M. Fredericks (1908-1998). He is known nationally and internationally for his impressive monumental figurative sculpture, public memorials, and fountains. Most Detroiters will immediately recognize the Spirit of Detroit by Marshall Fredericks without knowing the vast body of work that exists throughout Michigan and beyond. “To me, Sculpture is a  wonderful and exciting thing, vital and all absorbing. I want more than anything in the world to do Sculpture which will have real meaning for other people and in some way inspire or give them happiness.”

Sculpture Marshall Fredericks, standing next to clay model for his portrait of John F. Kennedy

Center for Art in Wood on exhibition through May 16, 2020

Hours: M-F 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.,  Saturday 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, Saginaw Valley State University, 7400 Bay Road, Saginaw, MI