John Singer Sargent @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art


JS Sargent Self Portrait MET 7.2015

John Singer Sargent – Self-Portrait 1906 Oil on canvas Instituti museali della Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Fiorentino, Galleria degli Uffizi

If you’re considering a trip to New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (a.k.a. the Met) is a must see, especially if it is your first visit. The museum was conceived in Paris in 1866 and built in New York City in 1870. Located on Fifth Ave on the east side of Central Park from 80 to 84th Streets, the Beaux-Arts building is the largest museum in the United States and averages five to six million visitors a year. The museum has seventeen departments and is capable of hosting several major exhibitions at one time. The current exhibition, Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, opened June 30, 2015 and runs through October 4, 2015.   The exhibition originates from the National Portrait Gallery in London, curated by Richard Ormond, Elizabeth Kornhauser, and Stephanie Hendrich, who organize a collection, partly of commissioned formal portraits. Sargent is an American (1856-1925) who spent much of his time in Europe, returning to America for lengthy visits in Boston and New York, where his subjects were actors, musicians, artists and writers. Sargent seems deeply engaged in the culture of his time, and always open to new influences and friendships. A few of the portraits in the exhibition are of famous artists such as Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin and the writer Robert Louis Stevenson.


John Singer Sargent – The Fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy 1907 Oil on canvas

The Fountain, was painted in 1907, where Jane de Glen is shown painting plenaire beside the great fountain Villa Torlonia in Frascati outside Rome. The pool lies at the top of a cascade of falls down the hillside to a Renaissance villa. Sargent captures so eloquently what he himself is so good at, the facility to compose and capture the spontaneity of the moment. Few artists of his time have the degree of visual theater in their work, combined with a gift for drawing with such gesture and realism. It was as a young student in Paris that Sargent studied with Carolus-Duran, who eventually referred to Sargent as his finest pupil.


John Singer Sargent – Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood 1885 Tate: Presented by Miss Emily Sargent and Mrs. Ormond through the Art Fund 1925











It was during this early time that Sargent captured this private moment of Claude Monet painting, with his future wife Alice Hoschede, as he worked on what is thought to be the painting Meadow with Haystacks near Giverny. For Sargent, this impressionist influence would stay with him for a lifetime, as Impressionism was the name given to a kind of observation that processed the moment as a phenomenon of optics base on the intensity of the outdoor light. It is well documented in letters that Sargent befriended Monet, and acknowledged him to some degree as an influence. In 1889 Sargent painted a portrait of Claude Monet while they were together at the Salon.

JS Sargent MET 7.2015

John Singer Sargent – Henry James 1913 Oil on canvas

As it turns out, Sargent and expatriate American novelist Henry James became friends as they both recorded the social scene on the transatlantic voyages between the United States and Europe. Close friends for forty years, James remained a supportive critic of Sargent’s work. James was one of the first to recognize Sargent’s talent. In 1913, it was a group of James’s friends who decided to commission a portrait to celebrate his seventieth birthday. The study of the enigmatic literary genius provides the audience with a rich and sympathetic depiction of Sargent’s aging friend.

Mountain stream

John Singer Sargent – Mountain Stream, Watercolor 1912

Among the 92 works of art in the exhibition, Sargent’s Mountain Stream typifies much of his watercolor work. The painting is owned by the Met, and captures the flowing water among the French Alps in 1910. A young, nude male in the scene addresses the question of Sargent’s sexuality. In a biography, Sargent is portrayed as “a complicated, exuberant, passionate individual with a homosexual identity,” a lifelong bachelor surrounded by family and friends. The painter’s great-nephew Richard Ormond, himself a Sargent scholar, says “If [Sargent] had sexual relationships they must have been of a brief and transient nature and they have left no trace…. We simply do not know, and decoding messages from his work is no substitute for evidence.” Given the context of the time in which Sargent lived and a close look at his work, particularly the number of male nudes he painted, it is this writer’s opinion that Sargent had an attraction to men that today would be fully accepted.

JS Sargent MET Out of Doors Study 2015

John Singer Sargent – An Out-of-Doors Study 1889 Brooklyn Museum, Museum


The painting An Out-of-Doors Study demonstrates how Sargent experimented with portrait compositions whose informality stood in contrast to his commissioned studio portraits. Here, his French friend and his young wife settle in the grass at Fladbury, England. Sargent’s approach here seems liberated from his standard studio work and features a compositional asymmetry, natural light, and a casual moment. It is paintings like these that leave their mark and go beyond studio portraiture.

John Singer Sargent was an American giant among realistic illusionary painters. Although there was a time period where his work was in disfavor, his popularity has risen steadily since the 1950’s as illustrated by the large-scale exhibitions of his work in major museums in the United States and Europe. Sargent increasingly turned to landscape painting as a respite from his portrait commissions. Time Magazine critic Robert Hughes praised Sargent as “the unrivaled recorder of male power and female beauty in a day that, like ours, paid excessive court to both.” He was sixty-nine years old when he died in London.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 5th Avenue, New York City, NY 10028    (212)535-7710  10:00am – 9:00pm

Robert Sestok @ City Sculpture Park

Save the Planet 2008

Robert Sestok, Save the Planet, Welded Steel, 2008











I honestly have never experienced a sculpture installation like the one Robert Sestok opened officially on July 10, 2015 in the mid-town area of a Detroit neighborhood, mostly for the benefit of all the people who live there. The Cass Corridor artist, through a neighbor, found vacant land at 955 W. Alexandrine Street. Sestok met with the City of Detroit and proposed a 200 X 200-foot space on empty available lots, which he eventually purchased, not far from his house and the studio that he built in the 1980’s. His vision was to create a community art-based non-profit organization, with a mission to promote civic engagement and the possibility of hosting public art events. The City Sculpture Park, after the ground being leveled, has 800 feet of continuous fence and a commercial rolling gate. Concrete foundations were poured to support and facilitate the installation of large and mostly welded steel sculptures that were created by Sestok over the past 35 years.

He says in his artist statement, “Early in my career the ‘downtown’ experience inspired deconstructivist methods for creating art. People were using found objects and other non-traditional materials in their work, tearing things apart and reconstructing them, processes that harmonized with the reality of the Cass Corridor in the 60s and 70s, and in fact still does today. This period had a profound influence on my approach to art that is particularly apparent in my sculptural work. For my sculptures, I use positive cuts for the figure (a silhouette representing Man) and negative cuts to express architecture (environmental space and its baggage). Welded metal works for this, takes me physically and spatially into the metaphor … making different objects connect … that’s why I like welding. There’s also a specific kind of permanency that comes with the way welded steel withstands the elements, giving extended life to the work.”

Logic 2005

Robert Sestok, Logic, Welded Steel, 2005

The work itself appears to be thematic. Each piece has a thread, usually a shape, size, material or abstracted idea and are vertical by nature. The welded steel has oxidized unless there is paint or stainless present. Comparisons evoke Joel Perlman, Mark di Suvero, and David Smith. But the overriding virtue of Robert Sestok is his fortitude and his altruism as illustrated by his curatorial Big Paintings @ The Factory in the summer of 2014 where Detroit artists used a large, industrial setting in Highland Park for their work. Called the Midland Invitational (on Midland Street), Sestok and building owner Robert Onnes called on artists to submit very big paintings, typically sized 20 X 30 feet, knowing the old factory buildings would easily accommodate the large canvases.

Bob Sestock image

Robert Sestok, Photography Courtesy of Brandy Baker, The Detroit News

The new artists now working in Detroit that have graduated from art schools across the country and particularly in Southeastern Michigan, stand on the shoulders of artists like Robert Sestok. His artistic efforts and contributions have helped make Detroit fertile ground for a burgeoning artistic community.

Tom Parish @ Robert Kidd Gallery

Domenica III  54 X 64   2010 Oil on linen

Tom Parish – Domenica III 34 X 64 2010 Oil on Linen Courtesy of Robert Kidd Gallery











Tom Parish has spent more than two-thirds of his eighty-two years of life creating illusionistic oil paintings, and the work seems to attract more attention than ever. Although Parish, Professor Emeritus at Wayne State University, remains in the Detroit area to live and paint out his remaining years capturing the visual poetry of Venice, Italy, he has rarely exhibited a group of paintings in the Detroit area. Most of his exhibition work has been at the Gruen Gallery and the Gilman Galleries in Chicago, Illinois. Fortunately, the Robert Kidd Gallery in Birmingham, Michigan has procured fifteen of Parish’s large paintings of the Venice landscape for a show opening July 17, 2015 from 5:00 – 8:00 pm. “I became intrigued by the sturdy compositional blocks of color that frame and organize the artist’s traditional realist imagery. An especially entrancing element is Parish’s handling of water surfaces… For these passages, Parish weaves a tapestry of light and reflection that activate a lively dance for the eye.” said Ben Kiehl, Director at the Robert Kidd Gallery.

Educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Parish’s various art-scene influences run the gamut, but his internal homing device has always seemed to keep his beacon on illusionistic imagery, focused for the last twenty-nine years on the textures and reflections of Venice, Italy. Parish’s body of work spans two thematic periods. From approximately 1960 to 1986 he painted foreign-like structures in an industrial landscape viewed from above. Then from 1986 to the present he has led his audience on a poetic journey through the Venetian landscape. Capturing perspectives in light doubled by reflections from undulating forms of water and architecture. Parish produces magical realism, to use a literary term, manipulating and imagining reality in such a way as to share with the viewer his romantic interpretations of a place he calls Zarna. In a recent exhibition catalog he says,

“The earliest source of my vision goes back to a farm in Northern Minnesota when my grandfather showed me a stream of mysterious water on our farm. I was not yet four years old. My work while living all these years in America’s “Great Lakes” has involved an imaginary island called Zarna, a sea of beds of stones and a full joyful experience, Venice.”

Dalla Ponte

Tom Parish – Dalla Ponte oil on linen 48 x 102 inches Courtesy of Robert Kidd Gallery

In the painting Dalla Ponte, Parish sets up his ‘way with water’ to lure the audience into his composition. Bringing the viewer forward, he delivers on a favorite theme, a kind of undulating water that is a mixture of current and reflection. The bricks of a canal wall appear in most paintings and become the backdoor to a simple abstraction, part and parcel of an overall realistic landscape image.

Grattacielo Veneziana

Tom Parish – Grattacielo Veneziana oil on linen 72 x 70 inches Courtesy of Robert Kidd Gallery

Sinking over the centuries due to natural processes building on closely spaced wooden piles and the pumping up of freshwater from an aquifer deep beneath the city, Venice remains in a state of rebuilding. In the painting Grattacielo Veneziano, Parish seizes on a construction site along a canal and plays with the contrast of the water and its reflection against the semi transparent protective tarp covering the renovation. As always, he carefully creates his composition and sets up a contrast between the grid and the organic nature of swirling water that may have been left by the trail of a waterbus.

Venetian Velvet

Tom Parish – Venetian Velvet oil on linen 72 x 70 inches Courtesy of Robert Kidd Gallery











Through Parish’s eyes, Venice, a once marshy lagoon built on an archipelago of islands, transforms into place with never-ending inlets, an occasional speedboat, oscillating water during the day, and channels of light at night. These quiet moments of architecture and light invites the viewer into his world of meticulous studies of light, reflection and composition.

The exhibit runs July 17 – August 15, 2015

Robert Kidd Gallery

107 Townsend

Birmingham, MI  48009


Some Assembly Required @ the Hill Gallery


Mr. Bill Raushauser with Maggie Hill, MOCAD, 2015 Courtesy of Ron Scott

Mr. Bill Raushauser with Maggie Hill, MOCAD, 2015 Courtesy of Ron Scott

Since 1980, the Hill Gallery, under the direction of Timothy and Pamela Hill has been exhibiting fine art that specializes in material exploration and an exceptional 19th and 20th century Folk Art collection. The summer group show, Some Assembly Required, features work among others by Alfred Leslie, Gordon Newton, Joel Shapiro, Mark di Suvero and Bill Rauhauser. I covered Motor City Muse: Then and Now, at the Detroit Institute of Arts, that featured Rauhauser’s photograph Stone Burlesk, where his work was included with photography by Robert Frank and Henri-Cartier Bresson. Rauhauser received the 2014 Eminent Artist award from the Kresge Foundation, where his work was recently on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

Bill Rauhauser “Kresge Court” 20” X 30”, 1970, Pigment Print, Archival Paper

Bill Rauhauser “Kresge Court” 20” X 30”, 1970, Pigment Print, Archival Paper

Bill Rauhauser, born in Detroit in 1918, received a Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Engineering in 1943 from the University of Detroit. He spent 18 years in the engineering field before a career change into the field of education. Over the next 30 years, Mr. Rauhauser taught photography at The College for Creative Studies and taught as a guest lecturer at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and at Wayne State University. He has made Detroit his main subject, walking its streets and alleys with his camera since the 1940s, and many of his photographs are in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts as well as in numerous private collections.


Gordon Newton “For Turner” 1988 Mixed Media 19”h x 20.5” x 13.25” Image Courtesy Hill Gallery

Gordon Newton
“For Turner”
Mixed Media
19”h x 20.5” x 13.25”
Image Courtesy Hill Gallery

Born in Detroit in 1948, Gordon Newton began taking art classes at Port Huron Community College. In 1969, he moved to Detroit to attend the Society of Arts and Crafts (now College for Creative Studies) and Wayne State University, both located in Detroit. In 1971, Newton’s work was included in the inaugural exhibition at the Willis Gallery, a cooperative space run by artists working in the Cass Corridor, Detroit. His work has also been included in exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Detroit Institute of Arts and most recently the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. A reluctant Kresge Fellowship recipient in 2009 is demonstrated by his shy and reclusive lifestyle juxtaposed to his bold and assertive work that often seems like an exploration of material. The work For Turner provides the viewer with an assemblage that reaches out to its audience with art related objects, a metaphor for his approach to painting. The title may reference the work of J.M.W. Turner, the English artist whose work of fluid landscape bordered on abstraction at a time in deep contrast to artists of that era.


Alfred Leslie “Ornette Coleman”  1956 Oil on Canvas 7 ft h x 9 ft w  Image Courtesy Hill Gallery

Alfred Leslie
“Ornette Coleman”
Oil on Canvas
7 ft h x 9 ft w
Image Courtesy Hill Gallery

Alfred Leslie, the famous abstract expressionistic painter from the 1950s who’s known for losing his oeuvre of fifty paintings in a fire, had his 1956 painting Ornette Coleman in storage at the time. The painting is made up of four panels that demonstrate action, a wide brush stroke, and multiples fields of under painting, which provide the viewer with a rich sense of composition and color. If there were an influence, it would have to be Willem deKooning. I can think of few artists who have worked in so many genres that include super-realist figure painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, and computerized photography. In a 2009 Art in America interview with Judith Stein, he is quoted as saying “Subverting expectations has always been integral to my work.”

Mark di Suvero “Untitled Sculpture”
 Cut and Welded Steel 37”H x 43”W x 24”D Image Courtesy Hill Gallery

Mark di Suvero
“Untitled Sculpture”


Cut and Welded Steel
37”H x 43”W x 24”D
Image Courtesy Hill Gallery













Mark di Suvero was a philosophy major at the University of California before moving to New York City in 1957 to pursue a career in sculpture. His early work was constructed of large wooden timbers and structural steel that pave the way to an Abstract Expressionistic approach to sculpture. In 2010, di Suvero received the National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts. In a quote from the NEA Blog, he says, “I’ve been doing it for more than fifty years, so it’s just become a regular routine. I go to work until I am exhausted… That’s the kind of principle that I work with, and I’m very much hands-on so that I don’t send my work out to fabricators.” In the Untitled piece in the Hill Gallery, there is a rough elegance of balance where two pieces of I-Beam steel are connected in contrast by abstract shapes. It simply plays on weight, space, and shape.

The Hill Gallery selects works from artists who have been recognized both locally and nationally and who have defined an authentic aesthetic voice. Their involvement with these artists is long-term and personal, with many relationships of 20 years or more.


Some Assembly Required    June 4th-  July 9th!current/ce6o

Greg Fadell @ the Museum Of Contemporary Art Detroit

Greg F S.Birth of Venus  Ofalisque, Museum Posters Altered by Chemicals, 2014

Image,  Greg Fadell,  Birth of Venus, Odalisque, Museum Posters, Altered by Chemicals, 2014

Greg Fadell is part of the Detroit Affinities Program, a series of solo exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), beginning in September 2014 with John Maggie and continuing through January 2018. Ten artists, half from Detroit, and half from outside areas will exhibit during that period.

“We try to bring a broader community together around issues. It’s about letting us understand ourselves better, it has also provided a broader network for local artists and elevated them onto the national and international stage of contemporary art, including showing their work outside Detroit,” says Elysia Borowy-Reeder, executive director of MOCAD.

Mr. Fadell’s work opened May 15, 2015 and includes two-dimensional work, three dimensional work, and video. The two dimensional work is taken from museum posters where the imagery is worked over with chemicals in a kind of abstract expressionist manner. For this observer, the work is not a parody, like in Marcel Duchamp’s Mona Lisa L.H.O.O.Q. 1930, but in some sense could be interpreted as a ready-made with an alteration. Throughout the exhibition, Fadell pays careful attention to the size and shape he presents where he intentionally smudges the art history reproductions, leaving some reveal. When Andy Warhol screened a Campbell Soup can, some thought it was a spoof. When Roy Lichtenstein enlarged a frame from a comic strip, there were those who thought he was putting them on, and when the minimalist, Ad Reinhardt made an all-black painting, the work challenged most viewers’ patience. And some will remember when Robert Rauschenberg made a drawing with an eraser, titled Erased de Kooning Drawing, in 1953. All of these works build off an intellectual idea that an artist’s work is embedded in the viewers explicit knowledge of the process of making art: an artistic moment. Windows in Paris, where he was drawn to the soap-like swipes on vacant retail display area, inspired Mr. Fadell’s work. He came back to Detroit and soaped some windows, and then he soaped some large canvases and called them Nothing. His exhibition at the Simone DeSousa Gallery in 2012 was called Nothingness. No image is not new, but what is new is Fadell’s use of famous, well celebrated historic imagery that has been smudged over. If I had to call it something, I might call it a Dada practice by a skateboard enthusiast.


Greg Fadell, Ahh...Youth, Balloon Dog, Henri Matisse, 2014 Museum poster altered by chemicalsImage, Greg Fadell,  Ahh…Youth, Balloon Dog, Henri Matisse, Museum Poster Altered by Chemicals, 2014

I posed a few questions for Greg Fadell.

Ron Scott – How and when did you first get interested in making visual art?

Greg Fadell – As long as I can remember I’ve been into artistic ways of expression and I consider skateboarding, which I’ve done since I was six years old, the first and most important one. When I was young I also enjoyed drawing, in high school I was really into photography, and I chose to study film in college. Lately I’ve leaned toward painting, but I let my ideas dictate what medium to choose.

RS – Having heard your talk, you mentioned being bored by art history?  Did you mean the art history classes that bored you?

GF – The literalness of how art history is treated bores me. I have always thought what lies between the lines of “historical facts” is more interesting.  I view art history as mostly opinions that are fluid and malleable, so why not shape it my own way and create something more interesting than the ideology that is presented and usually just parroted.

RS – Do you like or have criteria for the art museum posters that you select, or is that arbitrary?

GF – It is not a question of liking or disliking – I look at the posters and the imagery I choose as a tool.  If the tool fits my purpose, I use it.

RS – Is there any relationship between your skateboard work and your visual artwork?

GF – For me skateboarding is more than an activity – it is a mindset; a way of thinking that permeates my work consciously and subconsciously.Jens & FudallJens & Fudall

Jens & Fudall

Jens & FudallImage, Jens Hoffman, MOCAD Curator, and Greg Fadell, Artist Talk, MOCAD 2015

Greg Fadell gave a talk with curator Jens Hoffman on the Saturday following the opening. Along with some slides, he made the case for his work using historical references and some chronological slides of his earlier work. Today it’s commonplace for venues to have the artist present, and for this viewer it was important to hear how the artist came to his conclusions. Overall, the work seems like an investigation, one that takes information and makes changes to the imagery. The transition from his pure abstract work to these altered museum posters seems logical and may give him some traction in terms of authenticity. A question might be would I like to have one in my living room? If I am a collector who is looking to be the first to enjoy the novelty, maybe so. Fadell seems to use skateboarding as a metaphor for his life: Anything is possible. Take action and be yourself and tap into the creative flow.

Greg Fadell solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.