Here’s an eminently doable art tour, one to get you prepped for the winds of March and the warm rays not far behind, since “stormy” and “luminous” can just as well be applied to painting as to the weather report. All of the art sites are within a short drive of one another — in the Cultural Center and Eastern Market — making a visit to all five feel like an advance screening of The Rites of Spring. To add even more stops to your visual itinerary see “Exhibits” in What’s Happening.
Jacob Lawrence's "Ironers"
The Detroit Institute of Arts leads the current Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) celebration with “Over the Line: The Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence,” a major retrospective of this powerful artist’s output. On view Feb. 24-May 19, the exhibition includes Harlem street scenes and interiors, as well as the 22 narrative paintings of Lawrence’s “The Life of John Brown” series. Though a realist, Lawrence made color and form sing in unexpected ways, for an innovative vision of African-American experience (as in “Ironers," 1943, pictured). The DIA is at 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Call 313-833-8499.
Dwight Smith's untitled oil pastel on paper
Down in Eastern Market, among the poetically mixed signs of Detroit’s history and revival, JRainey Gallery (1440 Gratiot, first floor — call 313-259-2257) provides a series of intimate encounters with both masters and newcomers on the Detroit art scene. The latest show (through March 8) pairs Dwight Smith’s paintings and drawings (his untitled oil pastel on paper is pictured above) with the wrapped-twine-and-acrylic-paintings-that-become-sculptures of Michael Ragins.
Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts' "I'm aboriginal too"
Among the more edgy art projects in our fair metropolis, Johanson Charles Gallery (1345 Division, in Eastern Market — call 313-567-8638) deserves special attention as a venue that forges an organic bond between postmodern art and techno sounds. “One Man Show” (the exhibit that opens on Saturday, March 9, 6-10 p.m.) features new work from legendary Detroit artist Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts (such as the painting, “I’m aboriginal too,” pictured here), through April 3.
Hughie Lee-Smith's "Balloon Transitoire"
You can still catch G.R. N’Namdi Gallery’s loving selection of works by the late Hughie Lee-Smith (1915-2000) that includes both oils on canvas and a suite of remarkable pencil drawings, since the show has been extended through Saturday, March 16. “Balloon Transitoire” (1985, pictured) captures the quietly surreal mystery of Lee-Smith’s approach. G.R. N’Namdi (which also features Jacob Lawrence prints later in March) is at 66 E. Forest, just east of Woodward Ave. in the Cultural Center. Call 313-831-8700.
James Bassler's "I Weave Software"
Follow the thread of an idea or gauge your aesthetic fiber with “Textiles 2002,” the new show at CCS’ Center Galleries (Feb. 23-March 23 — 301 Frederick Douglass, behind the DIA — call 313-664-7800). Featuring work by 19 artists from the United States and Canada, this showcase includes various combinations of age-old skill and contemporary technology (as in James Bassler’s “I Weave Software,” pictured). The opening is Friday, Feb. 22, 6-8 p.m.George Tysh is arts editor of Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]