Motor City shine

Jan 3, 2007 at 12:00 am
Mary Fortuna

1. The tribute for Joy Colby at Lola’s in Harmonie Park, where a couple of hundred people jammed a tiny restaurant and bar to honor the woman who had chronicled the visual arts in Detroit for 60 years (60 years!)as a reporter for The Detroit News.

2. Under the Radar: The Willis Remembered, at Detroit Artist’s Market. What can I say? I love these huge fundraiser shows that bring the whole community together, artists making amazing work and giving it away in support of a worthy non-profit. This one was especially brilliant under the influence of Matthew Hanna, who put together the first of the never-to-be-forgotten Willis Box Shows. DAM is damn lucky to have him.

3. Game Show Detroit at CAID. So much great stuff to see and do. What’s not to love about plastic dim sum and putt-putt golf with giant turtles?

4. Experiments at The Gallery Project in Ann Arbor. Day of the Dead at Zeitgeist. Pretty much everything Dick Goody has put together at Oakland University Art Gallery, one especially memorable show being Sculpture???, featuring Evan Larson, Kevin Ewing, Matt Blake and Brian Nelson. Urban Alchemy. Scott Hocking’s wacko menagerie at Susanne Hillberry Gallery in Ferndale.

5. Maybe best of all? Attending the preview opening for Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and catching a glimpse of Mitch Cope sitting down with Graem Whyte at one of the tables near Nari Ward’s "fountain," taking a moment at long last to catch his breath and sip some tea. A little island of calm in the throng.

Artist Mary Fortuna is Paint Creek Center for the Arts exhibitions director.


Dora Apel

1. The exhibition Imaging a Shattering Earth: Contemporary Photography and the Environmental Debate at Oakland University, curated by art historian Claude Baillargeon, from the small poetic works of Emmett Gowin to the immense landscapes of Ed Burtynsky as well as the gentle irony of works by CCS’s John Gannis.

2. The drawings in the Tom and Kitty Stoner collection and the Gil and Lila Silverman collection shown at Cranbrook Art Museum. Especially the surprises: a drawing by Richard Serra that felt like a sculpture and — who would have thunk it? — a drawing by Botero, one of his huge women, who, in his delicate pencil line, becomes the most sensuous of creatures.

3. The Kara Walker video in the inaugural MoCAD exhibition. The shadow play with silhouette figures on sticks moved by occasionally visible human hands lends the narrative a fragility, poignancy and intimacy uncommon in her other work. Both tender and witty, she glides from the era of slavery to sharecropping and the lynching era which began during Reconstruction.

4. Richard Tuttle’s Woodward Series lecture at CCS. Not so much for what he said but how he said it. Making visible the highly quixotic paths in which his mind travels as he follows a thought spiral-like down to its wellsprings illuminated the visual poetry of the work. His occasional and seemingly abrupt verbal endings, which some took as synaptic lapses, seemed to occur when he decided he was taking too long unwinding a particular thought and would just stop, one stopping point being as good as another.

5. Krzysztof Wodiczko’s lecture at Cranbrook Art Museum and the courage of his bold ethical appeal in his own work. And to art students for work that is both beautifully designed and socially engaged.

6. The Unembedded exhibition at the Elaine L. Jacob Gallery at Wayne State University and public lecture by two of the unembedded photographers in the exhibition, Kael Alford and Thorne Anderson.( Full disclosure: I brought the show here and hosted the speakers.) OK, I’m not objective. But talk about courage. They were there, and without the protection of American troops, in order to tell us stories that would otherwise go unheard and unseen, from the perspectives of the Iraqis. Let’s not forget that more than 80 journalists have been killed in Iraq. Or that the rate of death, destruction, and suffering has been astronomical.

7. The lush painterliness and casual eerieness of urban landscapes by Mel Rosas in the 2006 faculty art exhibition at Wayne State University.

8. "Dividose: Red Yellow Blue." It’s a painting that captures all the high anxiety and vibratory artificiality of our highly technologized society in eye-popping architectural patterns and hallucinatory colors, by Cranbrook’s head of painting Beverly Fishman, at Lemberg Gallery.

Dora Apel is Associate Professor/W. Hawkins Ferry Chair in Modern and Contemporary Art History at Wayne State University.


Heather McMacken

When I think of 2006, I think of the birth of Marick Press. And I think optimistically: So far, the press has brought Detroit writers together in a very tangible, electrifying way.

This city needs poetry — needs it in the way every city does, as a uniting force. At its best, poetry shows us our commonalities as human beings, helping to erase hatred and fear. A flourishing lit scene is one of the symptoms of a healthy community … my hope is this: Marick Press will be that first gutsy step toward a Detroit poetry Renaissance.

Heather McMacken is a poet whose work has appeared in Advocate,, The Fairfield Review and will soon be appearing in 3rd Muse Poetry Journal. Send comments to [email protected]