Seeing is relieving 

As the once diffuse, even rarefied, art landscape of greater Detroit expands and solidifies with what seems like each passing week, we find ourselves learning a lot of new names and addresses. Some of these are for projects relocating into the city’s core (with G.R. N’Namdi Gallery following CPOP and Detroit Artists Market into the Woodward corridor) while others are first-timers taking the plunge (Detroit Exchange and Grey Gallery, among the latest rookies on the roster). And since fall is always one of the busiest times on the visual arts calendar, we’re clearly faced with an embarrassment of riches this year.

George N’Namdi opens the doors this Friday, Sept. 14, to what could conceivably be called the art venue of the decade, at 66 E. Forest (between Woodward and John R). His ambitious plans include space for other galleries, a bookstore, a coffeehouse and more. And the first show in the new digs is “Home,” new works by internationally renowned Detroit artist Al Loving (through Oct. 20). Call 313-831-8700.

Just half a block away from N’Namdi is DAM, the Detroit Artists Market (4719 Woodward), which also opens a new show on Friday, from 7 to 10 p.m. “Ritual” brings together 15 artists (among them, Pi Benio, Jose Antonio Gomez, Bill Sanders and Christopher Scalise) who explore the realm of popular myths and practices, from tattooing to James Dean to car culture and beyond. Call 313-832-8540.

Adding to the general hoopla and hysteria that same evening is the opening of “Up from the Streets: Detroit Art from the Duffy Collection,” a huge, vibrant examination of the 1960s and ’70s Cass Corridor art explosion collected by Detroit industrialist James F. Duffy Jr. The show will be housed in both the Community Arts Gallery (150 Community Arts Building) and Elaine L. Jacob Gallery (480 W. Hancock) at Wayne State University through Dec. 21. Call 313-993-7813.

In related exhibitions, the Detroit Institute of Arts presents “Gordon Newton: Selections from the James F. Duffy, Jr. Gift” through Nov. 4; and the Center Galleries offer “Blue: The Life and Work of Bradley Jones” through Oct. 6 — both being closer looks at the work of pivotal Cass Corridor artists.

If the night of Sept. 14 doesn’t give you sore eyeballs, then the next evening at detroit contemporary (5141 Rosa Parks Blvd., Detroit) should do the trick. The unbelievable array of installations and performances that will occur there from 5 p.m. to midnight is detailed elsewhere in this issue (see Nate Cavalieri’s preview in What’s Happening), but “A Man at a Desk,” the latest brainstorm from Detroit artist Nelson Smith is a cool TV nervous breakdown not to be missed. Call 313-898-4ART.

Just over the event horizon at CPOP is the Oct. 6-28 pairing of Detroit diva Niagara (in a comix installation called “Tomorrow’s Another Night”) and the gallery’s first-ever black-and-white group show (“Total Absence/Total Presence” featuring works by Bask, Glenn Barr, Mark Dancey, Camilo Pardo, Tom Thewes and David Williams). Opening night is Oct. 6, from 6 to 11 p.m. Then in November, look for the latest from Matt Gordon, Renata Palubinskas and Ryan Lee. Call 313-833-9901.

Hot new player on the block Grey Gallery (1 John R, sixth floor, corner of Woodward downtown) comes back mighty strong with “Lollypop Lust,” a one-woman show by young Miami artist Annie Wharton who stretches vinyl instead of canvas and paints with cookie cutters (Oct. 12-Nov. 8). Beginning Nov. 10, Grey presents “Flesh,” a look at new ideas by painter Ron Morosan and mixed-media artist Cy Karimpour. Call 313-965-0709 for hours.

Also forging into the downtown art wilderness is another transplant, this one from Pontiac: notably MONA, the Museum of New Art (1249 Washington Blvd. — open Wednesday-Sunday, 1-6 p.m.). “Documenta USA,” the latest in its mind-expanding series of archival installations, is discussed by Glen Mannisto in this issue (see What’s Happening). Call 248-210-7560.

From downtown, all roads lead to art, as a trip south on I-75 to Wyandotte’s Biddle Gallery (2840 Biddle Ave.) demonstrates. The gallery’s new show, “Post-mortem” (Sept. 17-Nov. 5), is a retrospective of work by the late Jim Slack, an artist who gave no quarter when it came to controversial imagery. Call 734-281-4779.

Or a trip north on I-75 will bring you to Revolution Gallery (23257 Woodward, Ferndale), one of the original watering holes of the postmodern spirit in these parts. From Oct. 27 to Dec. 1, this handsome, luminous expanse presents “From Detroit,” a group show including new work from Patrick Burton, Jim Chatelain, Brenda Goodman and Peter Williams, among others. The Oct. 27 opening is from 5 to 7 p.m. Call 248-541-3444.

Then the ultimate pilgrimage, “way out” on Woodward, brings you to the Cranbrook Art Museum (actually just a quick jaunt and always worth it) for an encounter (Sept. 16-Nov. 25) with three video installations by Chicago-based artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle. Utilizing the ambience of modernist architecture by Mies van der Rohe, Manglano-Ovalle makes deeply political statements about power and control, as in Le Baiser/The Kiss (1999, pictured). The museum is at 39221 Woodward, just north of Birmingham. Call 1-877-462-7262.

Satiated yet?

Return to the Fall Guide home page for more features and choice events.

George Tysh is Metro Times arts editor. E-mail him at

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