For most people who are really into metro Detroit’s art world, Rick Vian needs no introduction. He’s a Detroit native who arrived on the scene in Detroit’s Cultural Center as an art student in 1968, when the Cass Corridor art scene was heating up. He has gone on to become one of Michigan’s best-known and prolific abstract artists, as well as a professor on the faculty of the College for Creative Studies. His work isn’t always nonrepresentational, but even his landscapes are imbued with that impetuous brush stroke of the abstractionist, and his conceptual work includes an ongoing collaboration with the Heidelberg Project called “Life Without Art is Stupid.”
He has a retrospective that opens this weekend in West Bloomfield at the Janice Charach Gallery, inside the Jewish Community Center. It’s called Rick Vian: Keeping a Wet Edge, a saucy play on words that has more to do with the craft of painting than that other thing you’re thinking. The show will feature 44 years’ worth of his work, spanning 1972 to 2016. It’s a wealth of painting, but that’s just the half of it.
See, the show will be complemented with an exhibition on the 5,000-square-foot gallery’s upper level called Detroit Abstraction, curated by Vian himself, showcasing the work of 41 prominent abstract artists with ties to Detroit.
“I have wanted to put an abstract art show together for many years,” Vian says,
but I wanted it to be a big one in a big place where I could include everyone who was really good in order to demonstrate the obvious power and influence of the abstract art that is made in and around Detroit. … All of the artists I have invited to show are active today in Detroit, or were active and influential at some time in the past, but are now working elsewhere. This show will be powerful in itself, and will give evidence of the great diversity of approaches and ideas that can come under the general and inclusive idea of ‘abstraction.’”
The lineup of artists Vian has put together should bring out the crowds. There are literally dozens of artists in this show, and they include John Egner, Lester Johnson, Charles McGhee, Gilda Snowden, Bob Sestok, and 36 more more. A show like this comes down the pike every 20 years or so.
The double show opens with a public reception 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, at the Jewish Community Campus, 6600 W. Maple Rd., West Bloomfield. Vian will give an artist's talk and walk through the exhibition at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4 at 1 p.m. Both shows are open and free to the public during gallery hours through Dec. 8. For more info, call the gallery at 248 432-5579 or see www.charachgallery.org.