Critical art reviews of Detroit galleries and museums weekly

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LGBTQ @ Scarab Club

“Mighty Real / Queer Detroit: Remembrance of Things Present” will be up at Detroit’s Scarab Club through July 9. The other 16 exhibition spaces will take the show down on June 30, 2022.

An installation view of “Mighty Real / Queer Detroit” at the Scarab Club, up through July 9.

“Mighty Real / Queer Detroit: Remembrance of Things Present,” the monumental art exhibition of LGBTQ art that sprawls over 17 venues, underlines just how much has changed in America in the new millennium. Even 10 years ago, this sort of mammoth undertaking devoted to queer artists and their allies would be hard to imagine outside of a few trend-setting cities, mostly on the coasts.

Boasting more than 700 pieces by 150 artists both established and emerging, as well as some who’ve passed on, MRQD is being mounted in partnership with the City of Detroit’s Office of Art, Culture, and Entrepreneurship.

The shows at participating galleries are up through the end of June.

Apparently sparked by a suggestion from Detroit artist and longtime gay activist Charles Alexander, the project was curated and muscled into glorious existence by Patrick Burton, a visual and performance artist who teaches in the Detroit schools. The exhibition was originally set for 2020, and at the time involved just four or five galleries. But two years of covid delays gave Burton time to extend his reach, pulling in other outlets all over town.

“Patrick did just a beautiful job putting together portfolios of work for all the different spaces,” said Treena Flannery-Erickson, gallery director at the Scarab Club. “It’s historic and amazing.”

Among the participating galleries are Hatch Art in Hamtramck, Detroit Artists Market, the David Klein Gallery and, out in Mt. Clemens, the Anton Art Center – said to have one of the liveliest displays.

“This project is presenting queer artists, or humanizing us, in a new way,” Burton told The Detroit News. “We’re not often represented. We’re often sexualized and we’re not thought of us as full beings who live life and create art. This is about offering a queer culture and expanding minds and hearts.”

Stephanie Crawford, Green Still Life 3, Watercolor on paper, 22” x 15,” 2018. Courtesy The Scarab Club.

At Detroit’s Scarab Club, the 32 artists on view represent a wide and intriguing range of work, which will stay up longer than at other venues — through July 9. Some pieces here are thematically tied to the queer experience, like the late Jack O. Summers’ collage of itsy-bitsy naked men, while other canvases, such as the technicolor trio of still-lifes by Stephanie Crawford, a Black native Detroiter in her 80s, eschew messaging in favor of simple, striking beauty.

By contrast, the 1999 “Blue Bathroom Blues 1” by Frederick Weston, raised in Detroit before moving to New York, clearly points to the AIDS catastrophe. Look closely at this gorgeous, geometric collage in shades of blue and aqua and you’ll find a reference to the protease inhibitor Crixivan, an anti-HIV drug right beneath an advertising slogan, “Safe for Septic Systems.”

Frederick Weston, Blue Bathroom Blues 1 (detail), Mixed media collage, 11” x 8.5”, 1999. The Scarab Club.

Corktown resident Jon Strand, a meticulous painter with work in the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection, calls the exhibition a seismic event for the local queer community and its visibility. “This is like a declaration that we’re real and we make beautiful art,” he said. “We weren’t trying to promote or indoctrinate. It’s just about great creativity coming from all kinds of sources.”

One of those sources is Strand himself, who has work in this particular show at both Collected Detroit and Detroit Artists Market. The latter includes “The Flaming Pearl of Infinite Wisdom, A Silvery Moon, and Seven Hidden Dragons,” which typifies the artist’s fascination with oddly whimsical, otherworldly canvases created by means of a back-breaking form of pointillism.

Jon Strand, The Flaming Pearl of Infinite Wisdom, A Silvery Moon, and Seven Hidden Dragons, Ink on canvas, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Much of the work throughout MRQD is recent, but Burton also reached back far for some particularly arresting visuals as far away as New York City. Among the most striking, for reasons that are a little hard to decipher, is Marcus Leatherdale’s black-and-white portrait of Sam Wagstaff from 1981, 10 years after he left his curatorial position at the DIA in some disgrace. (For a contemporary art project, Wagstaff in his last year at the museum drove a bulldozer across the museum’s pristine north lawn dragging a 35-ton monolith, “Dragged Mass Displacement” by Michael Heiser, that gouged its own trench and sent the DIA’s board of directors into conniptions.)

Marcus Leatherdale, Sam Wagstaff, Archival pigment print, 22” x 22”, 1981. The Scarab Club.

Leatherdale, a photographer of New York’s demimonde who died in May, gives us a sharply observed portrait of the curator and photography collector at 60, with chiseled good looks and a skeptical gaze some eight years before his lover, Robert Mapplethorp, would die of AIDS.

Another striking image from the now-distant past is Detroiter Katy Hait’s “Marc Mannino, Detroit,” with the tousle-haired artist holding up what look like two punk marionettes. The juxtaposition of the puppets’ menace and Mannino’s youthful gaze, apprehensive but as yet unbruised by life, is a knockout.

Katy Hait, Marc Mannino, Detroit, Archival pigment print, 19” x 13”, 1977. The Scarab Club.

Other participating venues hosting “Mighty Real / Queer Detroit” include Affirmations, Cass Café, the College for Creative Studies Center Galleries, Galerie Camille, M Contemporary Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Design Detroit, N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, Norwest Gallery, Oloman Café & Gallery, Playground Detroit and Public Pool.

In breadth, scope and daring, MRQD will be remembered as a landmark in Detroit’s artistic and gay history. In Flannery-Erickson’s words, “It was a monumental undertaking that involved so many people. At the end of the day, it’s a beautiful salute to community.”

Like all curators, Burton hopes for lasting impact. “It’s a community defining ourselves,” he said. “When you think about, it was just over 50 years ago that there was the Stonewall uprising (in Manhattan). I just think there’s a lot of work still to be done. This exhibition is a beginning here, and we wanted to do it big and we wanted to make sure it got the right attention. The only way to do that was to not just do one gallery.”

“Mighty Real / Queer Detroit: Remembrance of Things Present” will be up at Detroit’s Scarab Club through July 9. The other 16 exhibition spaces will take the show down on June 30.

History Told Slant @ MSU Broad

History Told Slant: Seventy-seven Years of Collecting Art at MSU installation view at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, 2022. Photo: Eat Pomegranate Photography.

The exhibition History Told Slant is occasioned by the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Broad Art Museum, a space designed by architectural megastar Zaha Hadid, and which in 2012 became the new home to the robust collection of art formerly displayed at Michigan State University’s Kresge Art Museum. The collection itself marks its 77th year, and on view is a sprawling cross-section of highlights. While serving as an upbeat celebration of the museum’s collection, this exhibition also engages in dialogue about the ethics and practice of collecting and displaying art, particularly regarding representing voices traditionally underrepresented in museum spaces.

The exhibition opens with a strong salvo of gestural character studies, representing a wide variety of time periods and cultures. A small self-portrait by Rembrandt, a bronze study by Rodin, and a portrait bust by Reuben Kadish, though vastly different in style, pair well in their scribbled rendering of the human figure. These, along with an ensemble of 19th century Benin bronze figures hint at the varied ways different artists from different cultures abstract the human form, and gently flaunt the cultural and geographic reach of the Broad’s holdings.

Comprising a vast ensemble of photography, painting, drawing, and other two-dimensional media, the “Portrait Salon” is the focal point of the room and a highlight of the exhibition. The works are mounted salon-style, filling every bit of wall space from floor to ceiling. The salon-style display conscientiously references the Parisian salons of the 19th century but sheds any adherence to the academic uniformity they so ardently championed. Variety is the only theme here, and there’s certainly plenty of it, ranging from 17th-century Dutch portraiture to the photography of Dawoud Bey and Diane Arbus.

History Told Slant: Seventy-seven Years of Collecting Art at MSU installation view at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, 2022. Photo: Eat Pomegranate Photography.

An adjacent gallery space addresses the theme of “Embodying the Divine,” and features both religious art and art inspired by religious art. Unlike the wall of portraits, these works are given more breathing room. Western and Non-Western traditions are represented, ranging from Christian devotional paintings (including Francisco de Zurbarán’s painting of St. Anthony), an ensemble of illustrated pages from an 18th-century copy of the Bhagavata Purana, and a few surprises. One of these is a characteristically large painting by Kehinde Wiley; taking his inspiration from a Baroque-era sculpture of a martyred St. Cecelia, here Kehinde replaces Cecelia with a lifeless black male, the circumstances of whose presumed death/martyrdom is not revealed to the viewer. Kehinde Wiley has produced an impressive and immense body of work based on re-imagining canonical works of Western art, and there likely isn’t a better artist to include in a show that reconsiders art history through a more inclusive and equitable lens.

History Told Slant: Seventy-seven Years of Collecting Art at MSU installation view at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, 2022. Photo: Eat Pomegranate Photography.

History Told Slant: Seventy-seven Years of Collecting Art at MSU installation view at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, 2022. Photo: Eat Pomegranate Photography.

Mimicking the exhibit’s portrait wall is an equally impressive salon-style display featuring paintings, photographs, and prints loosely based on the theme of landscape art (some still-lives, several cityscapes, and even some completely abstract paintings are included here, but they all seem to support the theme). As with the portrait gallery, here the Broad flaunts the stylistic, geographic, and chronological scope of its collection. Perhaps the most well-known of these works is actually a seascape: viewers will surely recognize The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Hokusai’s famed Edo-period woodblock print.   There’s photography by Ansel Adams, Chinese vertically-oriented scroll painting, Inuit lithography, and even two paintings by Michigan’s own Mathias Alten, who spent much of his life painting Michigan’s landscapes and lakeshores.  In the center of the gallery space, a sculpture by Alexander Calder, Sunrise over the Pyramid, playfully broadens the boundaries of what we might ordinarily consider a landscape.

History Told Slant: Seventy-seven Years of Collecting Art at MSU installation view at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, 2022. Photo: Eat Pomegranate Photography.

In several instances, works by contemporary artists engage in direct dialogue with art from the ancient past.  In her works To the Unknown Migrant and Eternal Pilgrimage, contemporary Mexican artist Betsabeé Romero engraves tires with traditional Mexican figurative imagery, juxtaposing an emphatically modern substance with historic cultural symbols. Just a few feet away is an ensemble of small Mayan sculptures, some of which come from as early as the 8th century.  If we’re giving an award to the oldest work in the show, however, perhaps it should technically go to Daniel Baird’s Moment II, a wall-mounted sculpture made from a 30-million-year-old fossilized tortoise shell.

History Told Slant: Seventy-seven Years of Collecting Art at MSU installation view at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, 2022. Photo: Eat Pomegranate Photography

Aside from introductory remarks explaining each section of the exhibit, there’s little expository text accompanying the art, and most of these works are allowed to simply speak for themselves. It’s difficult to recommend highlights from the show, since the entire exhibit comprises highlights from the Broad’s collection, which contains nearly 5,000 years’ worth of artwork. There’s a smattering of everything, and artists with significant name recognition are paired alongside new and emerging contemporary talent. Since its construction a decade ago, the Broad has largely functioned as an emphatically contemporary art museum and an excellent one at that. But it’s nice to be able to once again, and all in one place, see new artwork join forces with so many of the old staples that graced the walls of the old Kresge Art Museum; it feels very much like being reunited with old friends.

History Told Slant: Seventy-Seven Years of Collecting Art at MSU is on view at the Broad Art Museum through August 7, 2022.

Karinna Sanchez Klocko : “Memories” @ Image Works

The exhibition space at Image Works is small but highly visible – the display windows on Michigan Avenue, which stay lit all night long.

It may be one of the smallest gallery spaces in the Detroit area. It’s virtually a pop-up. But the art by Karinna Sanchez Klocko hanging in the display windows at Image Works, a fine-art photo-printing shop in Dearborn, is both punchy and well worth a look. With “Memories,” the artist – a young graphic designer living in Commerce – takes a nostalgic look back at her childhood in Monterrey, Mexico, creating digital vignettes that, in the words of the artist’s statement, “capture the memories and dreams of the moment.”  “Memories” will be up through May 27.

Karinna Sanches Klocko creates her vividly colored, untitled canvases on the computer.

What you find at Image Works is a handful of sunny, color-drenched interiors, all accented with sprays of tropical flowers. The mood is cheerfully nostalgic, not syrupy. The domestic subjects – among others, a hallway leading to a front door, a bureau partly covered by a floral tablecloth, and a kitchen corner with fruit hanging in baskets next to an old “Trimline” wall phone – are unremarkable in themselves, but radiate light and comfort and “home.” The point of view is highly personal, as if the artist were, indeed, trying to reassemble scenes once commonplace, but now far in the past and scattered.

The artist’s digital creations take an affectionate look back at her Mexican childhood.

 There’s a specificity to the images that’s engaging. The kitchen counter is guarded by a tiny, metal turtle. Flower pots on the bureau have highly particular designs that feel rooted in reality. So too with the blue, patterned-tile floor leading to the front door. These are digitally created designs, of course, not photographs. But there’s a distinct Kodachrome quality to Klocko’s color palette – a radiant spectrum that if not unique to Latin America, certainly typifies much of the art that’s blossomed in warmer and sunnier lands south of the Rio Grande.

Image Works owner Chris Bennett, who moved to Detroit from Portland, Oregon, five years ago, says he first got to know Klocko when she came in as a customer. A lot of artists, he says, bring work to him for digital reproduction. In Klocko’s case, Bennett liked what he saw, and invited the Michigan State graduate to do a show.

It may seem counterintuitive, but maintaining a gallery in a photo shop has long been Bennett’s habit and ambition. “I love exhibiting artists’ work,” he said, “and it’s a great way to build community as well. It adds another element.”

Bennett moved to the present Michigan Avenue location last July from his old shop in Dearborn. While he doesn’t have as much gallery space here as before, he’s got dynamite display windows fronting a major thoroughfare that seem design-made for his intentions: “I wanted to do large-scale pieces that could easily be seen from the road,” he said, “that would attract people’s attention without causing accidents.”

In another civic-minded gesture, Bennett leaves the window lights on all night long – offering a bright dash of color that’s bound to surprise west-bound drivers in the wee hours.

 Albert Kahn: Innovation & Influence @ Detroit Historical Museum

An installation shot of the Albert Kahn exhibition at the Detroit Historical Museum. (Michael G. Smith)

An outstanding new exhibition on Detroit’s most-famous architect, “Albert Kahn: Innovation & Influence on 20thCentury Architecture,” is up at the Detroit Historical Museum through July 3. Organized by the new nonprofit Albert Kahn Legacy Foundation, with a mission to “honor, educate and preserve,” the show aims to broaden knowledge and capitalize on the recent uptick in the industrial architect’s reputation nationwide.

This is a handsome exhibition with a number of salient virtues — not too big, not too small, enlivened by smart, concise text, cool graphic design, and striking Lego replicas of some of the architect’s most famous buildings.

What’s not to like?

Start with the Lego structures. The eight-foot-tall model of the Fisher Building at the center of the gallery is a total scene-stealer. Made up of 120,000 pieces, the 300-pound behemoth is the work of local Lego-master James Garrett, who specializes in models of Detroit’s pre-war architecture. Other replicas on display include the Russell Industrial Center (originally the Murray Body Corporation) and Capitol Park’s Griswold Building, long empty but now renovated into luxury apartments and rechristened “The Albert” in honor of its designer.

The show does a superb job laying out Kahn’s early life, and his arrival in Detroit as an impoverished Jewish immigrant when he was about 12. From there on, of course – once he lands his apprenticeship with Mason & Rice, a highly significant downtown firm – the youngster scaled the professional ladder quickly and with astonishing ease. Among other things, Kahn from an early age was a remarkably gifted freehand sketch artist (credit his teacher – Detroit artist Julius Melchers), and the show contains several of his drawings from European travels.

Albert Kahn, seated at left, in the offices of Mason & Rice when he was about 19. (Albert Kahn Associates)

 For those who don’t know Kahn’s work well, there are also some marvelous surprises here — not least the fact that the Fisher Building, as we know it, is only one-third of a massive complex with a central tower that got scotched once the stock market crashed in 1929.

 The exhibition also lays out the Kahn firm’s astonishing work in the late 1920s and early 30s building over 500 plants and factories across the Soviet Union, an effort that industrialized what had been a backward, agrarian economy. Want to know why the USSR didn’t collapse when the Nazis invaded in 1941-42? The answer has a lot to do with the armaments that rolled off the production lines of Kahn-built factories like the vast Stalingrad Tractor Plant.

 The exhibition also explores the architect’s relationship with Henry Ford, Kahn’s most-important client from 1908 on, when he began to design the Highland Park Model-T plant. It also discusses his relationship with the automaker once the latter’s Dearborn Independent newspaper launched a weekly series of anti-Semitic screeds in 1920, “The International Jew: The World’s Problem.” (Despite this, Ford clearly liked and admired Kahn, calling him “one of the best men I ever knew” on the architect’s death in 1942.)

Kahn’s revolutionary, reinforced concrete factories for Ford, with their lack of ornamentation, huge windows, and geometric-grid facades, established the standard for modern industry worldwide in the early 20th century. They also, as the section titled “Kahn’s Influence on Modernism” details, had a seismic impact on young architectural rebels in Europe desperate for a new, “pure” architecture, which they found in Kahn’s stripped-down Ford plants. Both Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier cited the Highland Park complex in writings that laid out the tenets of early architectural modernism.

All in all, this is a show anyone proud of Detroit’s architectural heritage will not want to miss. Indeed, Albert himself would be proud.

One of Kahn’s crowning achievements – the Fisher Building arcade and lobby. (Michael G. Smith)

 Karinna Sanchez Klocko: “Memories” at Image Works in Dearborn will be up through May 27.

Albert Kahn: Innovation & Influence on 20th Century Architecture will be at the Detroit Historical Museum until July 3.

Maya Stovall @ Reyes / Finn

Maya Stovall offers videos of dance on sidewalks and neon objects to vividly juxtapose art and humanity.

Maya Stovall, Installation image, Sail, Reyes / Finn, 2022

On April 16th, 2022, the Reyes / Finn gallery opened an exhibition of artwork, Sail, as a continuation of Maya Stovall’s extraordinary conceptual artwork that permeates her being. The accumulation of Liquor Store Theater, 1526, Theorem no. 2, The Public Library, LUXRazon/Reason, and now Sail, reveals a visual artist who uses her conceptual art to communicate her social grievances…her data-driven observations, her hatred for human rights abuses and the sins of human slavery. Not in my recent experience has an artist’s work been so simple yet created by such a complex, thoughtful and complicated artist.

Stovall employs a mix of anthropological observation and urban intervention to create what she considers performance and ethnography.  I was first introduced to her work at the Whitney Biennial in 2017 when I saw her row of videos, each screen playing one of the Liquor Store Theater episodes. I realized she was an artist from Detroit whose work was selected by the curator, Christopher Lew, to be part of the Whitney Biennial 2017, and I included her work in my review. At the time I did not understand the meaning of her work, but in time, with more exposure to the work and her writing, I have come to understand that the Liquor Store Theater contrasts dance performance in the store parking lot (or on the sidewalk) to the everyday activity that is intricately braided with significant socioeconomic distress. Through dance, interviews, and many conversations, Stovall reviews the dismal demographics in the McDougall-Hunt (Detroit) neighborhood, including the median annual income of $13,500 and an unemployment rate of 40%. All of this as the Arab liquor store ownership draws $400,000 per year in profits.

Maya Stovall, 1526 neon, LUX at White Columns, NYC, 2018

Leading up to Sail was the 1526 series of neon dates that included a citation next to a wall-mounted neon sculpture that reads simply ‘1526’. At White Column in 2020, the gallery mounted LUX, Maya Stovall’s first solo exhibition in New York City.  LUX comprised 16 wall-mounted neon sculptures from the artist’s ongoing series.  The number is of great personal significance to Stovall, since it marks the year of the first rebellion of enslaved people, which took place in North America’s first European settler colony. Each hangs in chronological order.

Initiated in 2018, the 1526 series emerged from Stovall’s extensive research into historical archives. From tens of thousands of pages of research, the artists developed a series of dates, from 1526 to 2019, that reflect, in the artist’s words, “critical moments in U.S. history.” Each sculpture, a year expressed as numerals inscribed in neon is accompanied by a postcard that visitors were free to take. The postcard expands upon the significance of each particular date or historical ‘moment’.

Maya Stovall, Installation image, A____that defies gravity, Image courtesy of Reyes / Finn, Detroit, 2022

Maya Stovall’s most recent work proceeds further away from the obvious where her conceptual thinking moves to Minimalism by creating these vertical neon bars of color.  The apparent context is the work of Dan Flavin, an American artist and pioneer of Minimalism, who is known for his seminal installations of light fixtures. His illuminated sculptures offer a rigorous formal and conceptual investigation of space and light in which the artist arranged commercial fluorescent bulbs into differing geometric compositions.  If conceptual art aims to present an idea, the work takes precedence over traditional aesthetics.

In the new exhibition Sail at Reyes / Finn, Stovall creates enlightenment through a minimal arrangement of vertical neon bars with subtle color changes. One can assume that like all of her work, she seeks to draw the viewer into these elegant compositions of neon light with research, discovery and the creation of a better world for those in need.

Maya Stovall, Installation image A_____that defies gravity, Image courtesy of Reyes / Finn, Detroit, 2022.

By design, each elegant, linear composition in the A____that defies gravity series evades direct recognition and simultaneously provokes many algorithmic and structural associations.

The artist says, “In the work, the concept is considered after theory and after abstraction, such that the concept, object, subject, thing, etc., is able to defy gravity itself.”

The Sail concept becomes a metaphor for reaching out to where place, space and time are complex constructs requiring critical and conflicting analysis. Such an analysis is reflected across the artist’s work. In relentlessly searching out contradictions to both investigate and impose within her work, the paradox of abstraction becomes stunning, sensual and compelling amidst the density of the concept, and the creation of Sail is the result.

Maya Stovall is a conceptual artist and anthropologist whose practice spans objects, performance, text and video. She earned her Ph.D. in Anthropology, Wayne State University, MBA, University Of Chicago Booth School of Business and BBA, Howard University.

Maya Stovall, Image of the artist, Reyes / Finn,

She is currently an Assistant Professor in Liberal Studies at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly), Pomona.

Maya Stovall: Sail at Reyes / Finn, April 16th – May 28, 2022

The Pescovitz Art Collection @ Oakland University Art Gallery

Selections from the Mark and Ora Hirsch Pescovitz at Oakland University Art Gallery

Installation image, Pescovitz Collection, OUAG, 2021

In general, collectors have little regard for investment or profit. Rather, art is important to them for other reasons. The best way to understand the underlying drive of art collecting is by describing it as a means to create and strengthen social bonds and for collectors to communicate information about themselves to the world and newly formed networks. Great collectors are often as well-known and widely respected as the art they collect.

Look at the Eli Broad collection, the Barnes collection or the Paul Allen collection, just to name a few.  Collectors like these are famous because they demonstrate talent in selecting their art. J. Paul Getty, an oil baron from Minnesota, started collecting European paintings right before the Second World War, and Peggy Guggenheim, the niece of Solomon R. Guggenheim, was an early 20th-century socialite who became one of the most famous art collectors in the 1930s and 1940s.

Dr. Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, President of Oakland University, and her husband Mark collected art for forty years before he passed away in 2010. What started out as a small collection by her husband in the early 1970s evolved into a lifetime commitment.

The exhibition opened September 10, 2021, at the Oakland University Art Gallery, and is curated by Dick Goody, Chair, Department of Art & Art History and Director, Oakland University Art Gallery.

Chuck Close, Self Portrait, Silkscreen on Paper, 2000

Chuck Close rose to attention in the early 1970s with his grid-based compositions that replicated a type of photographic realism. The basis for his work depends on a photo image made up of small colorful shapes but, when viewed at a distance, reveals the more significant intended subject, usually a person or portrait. It is the invention of these small shapes that sets the work apart.  Close just recently passed away in August 2021. Chuck Close earned a BFA from the University of Washington and an MFA from Yale.

Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Package on Radio Flyer Wagon, 1993

Christo Vladimirov Javacheff and Jeanne-Claude were artists known for creating large-scale, site-specific environmental installations, often large landscape elements wrapped in fabric. Christo and his wife and artistic partner viewed their work as conceptual, as best seen in The Gates in Central Park, NYC, where visitors would pass underneath steel frames supporting free-standing panels of saffron-colored fabric. Much of their work was done preparing for an installation, supported with numerous drawings and prints. Radio Flyer Wagon, created in 1993, is a preliminary idea created using lithography and silkscreen printing.  Christo passed away on May 31, 2020, in New York, NY. Their works are held in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art collections, the Musée d’art moderne et d’art Contemporain in Nice, and the Cleveland Museum of Art, among many others.

Robert Mapplethorpe, Thomas, Silver Gelatin Print, 1986

Robert Mapplethorpe was an American photographer, best known for his black and white images. His work featured various subjects, including celebrity portraits, male and female nudes, self-portraits, and still-life images. His most controversial works documented and examined the gay male BDSM subculture of New York City in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mapplethorpe lived with musician Patti Smith in his early years. She says, “Robert took areas of dark human consent and made them into art. He was presenting something new, something not seen or explored as he saw and explored it. Robert sought to elevate aspects of male experience, to imbue homosexuality with mysticism.” The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation maintains and manages his work which raises millions of dollars for medical research.

Peter Milton, Family Reunion, Etching & Sugar Lift, 1986

Peter Winslow Milton is a colorblind American artist diagnosed with deuteranopia after hearing a comment about the pink in his landscapes. He attended the Virginia Military Institute and earned his MFA in 1961. Milton is a visual artist of black and white etchings and engravings that often display an extraordinary degree of photo-realistic detail placed in the service of a visionary aesthetic. His themes include architecture, history, and memory, as he employs complex layers in the printmaking process. In the work Stolen Moments, the method of aquatint printmaking is used where the artist creates wash effects by brushing them on the printing plate with a fluid in which sugar has been dissolved. The plate is then covered with stopping-out varnish and immersed in water; the sugar swells and lifts the varnish off the plate. Peter Milton attended the Virginia Military Institute and earned his MFA in 1961.

Christyl Boger, Off Shore, Glazed Earthenware, 2004

The artwork of Christyl Ann Boger is largely idealized nude ceramic figures that resemble 18th-century Greek porcelain sculpture with aspects that mimic contemporary ceramics.  In her statement, she says, “ The pieces featuring figures posed with a variation on inflatable beach toys that reference the heroic narratives of Greco Roman mythology in an absurdist way.”  The figures are 1/3 life-size earthenware, often incorporating gold enameling and typical western patterns such as fruits and flowers.  She worked as a Professor at Indiana University and earned her BFA at Miami University and her MFA at Ohio University.

Phillip Campbell, Afternoon Escape, Acylic on Canvas, 1991

Philip Campbell creates paintings and objects that have a physicality about their presence. These are either assemblages or collages on canvas, and he works with wood, paper and cloth. Afternoon Escape’s abstracted landscape is an acrylic collage on paper with simplified shapes of colorful objects.   He says in a statement, “By completing this major transformation, I have become a physical reflection of my art and a living product of my life’s work to date as well as inspiration for my future creations. A completely changed, renewed human being. My renewal experience has been the topic of many interesting conversations, and because of the discomfort of the healing process, I have been acutely and constantly aware of my transformation.”  Philip Campbell earned his BFA from the Herron School of Art.

Installation image, Pescovitz Collection, OUAG. 2021

There’s a difference between buying art and collecting art. Buying art is more of a random activity based on likes, preferences or attractions at any given moment while collecting art is more of a purposeful, directed long-term commitment.  The Pescovitz Art Collection on display at the Oakland University Art Gallery provides the students and the public with a large variety of artworks representing a diversity of art forms and expression.  It is worth a visit.

This exhibition includes artworks by: Yaacov Agam, Philip H. Campbell, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Chuck Close, James Wille Faust, Sam Gilliam, Janis Goodman, Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Milton, Judy Pfaff and John Torreano.

Selections from the Mark and Ora Hirsch Pescovitz Collection, will run through November 21, 2021 at Oakland University Art Gallery.

 

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