Dream displays 

You’re standing in one of those goody shops festooned with barrels of rubber spiders, sexy red lips and plastic eyeballs. In one corner an overflowing crate labeled "Art Shows" stretches to the horizon. You dig around inside but there are too many sights to choose from. Sweat beads on your upper lip and panic blows through your brain: Where to go? What to see?

Waking from this nightmare, tingling, you realize it’s all true. Metro Detroit art happenings this fall are too varied and vital for words.

SCRATCHING THE MUST-SEE SURFACE

For starters, the Detroit Institute of Arts revs up the relevance generator with a major look at the paintings of American visionary Bob Thompson (October 24 to January 2). The show records nine years of breathtaking, jazz-inspired, color-mad works by an artist who narrated, transformed and desired his way into the postmodern world.

Cranbrook Art Museum pops the cork with Tacita Dean, Disappearance at Sea, a show featuring film, audio, installations and drawings by a young British artist in her first museum solo show in the United States. Dean uses images of water, ships and seafaring to get at the luminous essence of film (September 4 to October 31).

Two exhibitions stand out in the Center Galleries’ fall lineup: Dysfunctional Sculpture (September 11 to October 9 — see MT's review) and Recollection: The Life and Work of Paul Schwarz (November 20 to December 18). The Schwarz show puts the spotlight on the thoughtful, innovative works of Detroit’s late master of multifariousness (painting, collage, sculpture, poetry, music) — a legend in the making.

GALLERIES AU GRATIN

Revolution hangs the mind-twistingly elegant drawings and constructions of former Detroiter Jim Chatelain, along with "ultra/modern" combines by James Shrosbree (September 11 to October 16). Wednesday, September 22, at 7:30 p.m., Lynn Crawford and Glen Mannisto read from works inspired by Chatelain’s art.

Two exhibitions, which take realism where it always wanted to go but was afraid to ask, are highlights of Susanne Hilberry Gallery’s schedule: Watercolors & Paintings by Detroit alumnus Ellen Phelan (September 28 to October 30) and New Paintings by Detroiter Robert Wilbert (November 19 to January 8).

The gallery that never closes, detroit contemporary, makes eight days in September (9–16) a long week that won’t be soon forgotten. Always Open presents installations by Kiersten Armstrong, Jerome Ferretti, Matthew Hanna, Catherine Lauerman, Mary Meserve, Dave Roberts and Ed Sykes, as well as appearances by Soul Clique, Satori Circus, Rico Africa’s Transgendered Frankenstein, etc., films by Bob Andersen and Chris McNamara, and readings by Dispatch Detroit writers, among even more cool treats.

"C" Stands For …, the grand reopening show (Saturday, September 25, 7:30 p.m.) at C Pop, calls the bluff of the forces of evil with a showcase of the gallery’s posse of Pop — works by Robert Williams, Mark Ryden, Robert Crumb, Ed Roth, Glenn Barr, Niagara, AWOL and hordes more.

Mountain photographer Takashi Iwahashi’s The Rockies, from Alaska to Mexico at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center (September 10–30) presents huge, panoramic color photographs with a distinctly Japanese impact.

AND DON'T MISS...

Making It New! (the big sixties show) at the Art Gallery of Windsor (now through October 10). Body Parts, curated by Dennis A. Nawrocki, at Pewabic Pottery (September 9 to October 30).

Flora Botanica, a sculpture exhibition to benefit the Belle Isle Botanical Society, at the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle (September 24 to October 31).

When Time Began to Rant and Rage: Figurative Painting from Twentieth Century Ireland at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (September 25 to January 2).

"I Made this Jar …" The Life and Works of the Enslaved African-American Potter, Dave at the Museum of African-American History (October 9 to January 2).

George Tysh is Metro Times' arts editor. E-mail him at gtysh@metrotimes.com

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