Hey, good lookin’ 

Art returns to the avenue — Woodward Avenue, that is. As we announced back in early fall, Lemberg Gallery (which was then completing its move from Birmingham to an awesome new location at 23241 Woodward in Ferndale) has taken back control of the billboard art project started by its pioneering neighbor, Revolution. In the hands of an interim tenant, the large sign (facing north and viewable by southbound traffic) had devolved to PR schlock. But signaling that Lemberg had indeed come to the rescue, from mid-October to mid-December the billboard displayed a statement by painter Rick Vian — “Life Without Art Is Stupid” — which served as a commentary on both the hiatus and our larger social context.

Then, just before the holidays dropped their crass melange of spirituality and moola on our psyches, the billboard was turned over to a new concept. Janet Hamrick (whose work was featured in last week’s MT cover story, “Soothing the easel: Painters on music and the synergy of bliss”) transformed the space into a large triptych, filling it with expanding forms reminiscent of her latest paintings. Hamrick has been working with extremely subtle patterning and color relationships for years, attracting art world attention (she’s represented in Detroit by Lemberg and in New York by the George Billis Gallery) with her delicate, rarefied and mostly smaller compositions. Lately, however, her shapes have begun to waver and inflate in a kind of organic bursting out. As a detail from Hamrick’s painting “Forever” (pictured — the starting point for the billboard triptych) shows, the “Persian miniature” feel of her images has moved toward kinetic sensuality. But you can see for yourself until at least mid-February, when a new surprise will greet motorists (and luckier pedestrians, who can stop for a longer look and then visit the galleries).

Metro-area artists with project proposals for the billboard should call Lemberg Gallery at 248-591-6623. ’Cause life with art is … hey, let’s find out.

The Hot & the Bothered was written and edited by George Tysh. E-mail him at gtysh@metrotimes.com.

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