Friday, February 15, 2008

Detroit to Ann Arbor - Opening Reception

Detroit to Ann Arbor Creative Work from Detroit Artists
An Exciting Cultural Event Featuring Detroit-Based Artists
Opening Reception

Saturday, Feb. 16th

Light refreshments provided
Show Runs Feb. 16-March 4th
Showing in the Michigan Union Art Lounge
Questions? email:

Kevin Beasley

Waterjacket, 2008
headphones, audio selection
Counterplane, 2008
pine wood, spray paint

Detroit is not just a city that I find interesting, but rather an environment that feels like the woods. Moving to Detroit from Virginia (from the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains) five years ago, I realize that in my own observations there is a bias towards nature’s presence, but this comparison is not a sensory one, but rather the ambiguous state I see in both. The ephemeral quality of natural occurrences reminds me, increasingly so, of Detroit’s landscape. There is a current in the air that gives Detroit a distinctive quality unlike any other metropolitan area, although it has every characteristic that a major city would contain. On the contrary, its identity is so difficult to put a finger on. As if the indistinguishable is the distinction. Grit, grime, and industry constitute most American metropolitan areas if you’re in the right neighborhood. So the “grittiness of Detroit” does not satisfy an accurate description for me.

My work leans toward the experience of spaces and place, and how we interact, and identify with them. My paradoxical observations and unfamiliarity with Detroit, combined with the increase of travel in my schedule, forced me to look at not just my destinations but the spaces in between; these places and signifiers that got me thinking about other things. The spaces where we read, contemplate, and talk to ourselves. I became more interested in the elusive, rather than the identifiable. These observations act as metaphors in my work and really operate in the process of creating what I make and how I place them in the context of its environment. The material elements allow for a sensory experience that triggers our percepts and gets us thinking about our thoughts, feeling our feelings, and attempting to conclude on what these objects mean. This, ultimately, requires viewers to bring their own sensibilities to play, in order to create an experience that may have never been felt before. As if the objects never exist until one truly engages.

Taurus Burns

True Colors – primary self-portrait, 2008
Oil on Canvas

I moved to Detroit from Ann Arbor in 1998 to study Fine Arts at the College for Creative Studies, where I received a BFA in 2002. I remember when I would visit Detroit before moving here, I thought it was the most depressing city… mile upon mile of ruin and poverty. But after living in and around Detroit for almost 10 years, I see the city in a different way. There is an innocence in everyone I meet that is highlighted by an environment that wreaks of abandonment... it is a beautiful contrast. There is a force of life that is creating change and renewing this once vital city.

Detroit has really grown on me. I continue to meet many people in the city that I admire for their courage, resilience, creativity and passion. I enjoy being a part of that community as I enjoy watching the city find its legs. Since graduating I have continued to show my art around southeast Michigan and to pursue new challenges to my creative work and self-awareness. Currently I am on the exhibition committee at the Detroit Artist Market- a longstanding gallery in Detroit dedicated to the education and promotion of contemporary art. In my own paintings I create both realistic and symbolic paintings of people that explore basic universal human desires. Examples of my art can be found on my new website:

Katherine Leisen

Grocery Store, 2008
Watercolor & mixed media

Detroit is a notorious topic. It is easy to dismiss its popularity as appealing to one’s morbid sense of curiosity, but I think the attraction also stems from an excitement generated by the unknown.

For many people, the disparity between Detroit’s land space and its population produces a sense of confusion. The vast gaps between neighborhoods are often filled with waist-high grass housing pheasants. These pastoral scenes are sandwiched between building and sidewalk rubble and liquor stores.

It is strange to live in a place more discussed than lived in. I have lived in Detroit as an adult for almost five years. It surprises me to write that. I suppose I live in Detroit because I feel comfortable here, but I certainly don’t mind the cheap rent.

No one cares what you do here. Depending on your attitude that is either a nightmare or a rare invitation to experiment.

My list of Likes that is pertinent to Detroit:

I like things that don’t make sense.
I like the open spaces here that force me to think and breathe, despite the incinerator.
I like seeing the unexpected beauty.
I like characters.
I like absurdity, and I laugh when things feel true.
I like saying hi to people on the street.

What a weird city this is. Is this a small rural town? Is this an industrial capital?
The city changes its clothes every time I look around.

I once described living here as being “a very internal experience.”

I think that’s still true.
– February 2008

Andy Malone

Mayor Bear (part 1), 2008
Digital print on paper

I create drawings and kinetic sculptures that reflect on life in Detroit and other subjects that interest me. I primarily incorporate common whimsical archetypes (like toys and cartoon animals) to comment on sober matters.

The inspiration for this piece is the Detroit political machine (which could easily provide material for a weekly comic strip). I am fascinated by how Detroiters are knowingly manipulated and pandered to when a scandal strikes. We pay attention to the drama but remain detached (this is a survival mechanism). We tend to forget that our elected officials work for us, and we have the power to hold them accountable. This, of course, is not a uniquely Detroit phenomenon.

When I'm not on my soapbox, I'm hanging out with my wife Elaine and baby girl Julia.

A portfolio of my work is available here:

Teresa Petersen

OWL, 2008

Light up assemblage made from Detroit junk

Teresa Petersen is an artist living and working in the city of Detroit, Michigan. In Detroit, junk is an abundant resource. Every trip to her studio is a chance to find interesting objects to work with, either on the side of the road, or at a thrift store. She works in several media, specializing in found-object assemblage sculptures, collages made from vintage prints, catalogs, and magazines, and mixed media pieces containing elements of both. The individual objects making up each piece serve to form a cohesive final structure as well as individually relate to the theme of the piece as a whole. Her work emphasizes and explores the relationships between women's stereotypes and ideals: in culture, in nature, and in our throw-away society.

More things Teresa at:

Rachel Reynolds

Isolated Observation: Color Separations
Warm Chroma Scheme : Hats, Slacks, Collars & Cuffs, Shirts, Shoes, Sacks & Suspenders, 2008

acrylic paint & colored pencil on Dura-Lar

Isolated Observation: Color Separations
Beige Brown Tan Taupe: Furs and Skins, 2008

acrylic paint & colored pencil on Dura-Lar

How much of what we look at do we really see?

Often, the field of one’s vision is obstructed. Our eyes connect the dots and our minds fill in the blanks. We are able to recognize and identify. But, what we know about what we see is ultimately based on either popular pre-conceptions, or through personal experience.

Particular spaces yield certain situations. My intentions lie in wandering, observing and understanding urban environments. Working to illustrate more than the physical particulars of a site, I select a fixed place from which to study present culture. By limiting the perimeters of location and people to a specific space and routine, I create a position from which to locate common denominators, discover patterns and raise questions relevant to Here and Now.

Determining commonalities and finding patterns can be used to stereotype— but the act of recognizing similarities also entails distinguishing differences. Above all, it is the individuality of others that is present, and it is through active engagement with others that individuality can be recognized and assumptions may dissolve.

This body of work is derived from six months of utilizing Detroit’s public transportation system. My reaction to the daily abundance of source material led to the practice of limiting my observational drawings to record only what I witnessed in terms of one color each day. This methodology of isolating subject matter through the lens of color resulted in an in-depth look at the apparel of my fellow bus riders. Clothes offer clues to the culture of a place on many levels. They may indicate age, sex, employment, climate and of course, personality.

“It is the journey that is the objective, not the end place where we are going.”

Godfrey Reggio describes this as a way to approach viewing his film, “Koyaanisqatsi.’