One of the more astute observations about the Detroit Artists Market comes from Michael Hall, former Cranbrook sculptor-in-residence, world-famous artist-collector and diehard Tiki maven: He says it's always been the one place in the city where a Sunday painter could come, even if only once a year, to have his or her work shown alongside the brightest stars of the local art firmament. Indeed, if for nothing else, DAM is important to the cultural life of Detroit for the role it has consistently played over the years in fostering a sense of community among all levels of artists and their supporters. The truth of that will be on display this Friday when DAM Movie Night shows three documentary films about the creative process, with an emphasis on local artists and filmmakers.
The first is Legacy in Bronze, a documentary about the work longtime Detroit sculptor Sergio De Giusti did for "Transcending," his collaboration with another noted local artist, David Barr, for the Michigan Labor Legacy Project, unveiled in 2003 in downtown's Hart Plaza. The 30-minute film follows De Giusti's artistic process from initial concept to the finished stone and bronze relief sculptures he made for his part of the project. (Barr, a mainstay of the art program at Macomb Community College, contributed the gleaming steel arches that reach some 65 feet in the air.) Completed last year, the doc has been shown a few times in Oakland County but never before in Detroit.
The second film is Silvio: A Story About Art and Pizza, an homage to Silvio Barile, a Redford pizzeria owner who makes monumental cement sculptures at night after he's finished working and then peoples his backyard garden with them. This 30-minute film focuses on more than Barile's sculpture-making: A proud Italian-American, Barile is an opera buff who also plays guitar. His renditions of operatic tunes and other guitar pickings provide the doc's musical sound track. Both films are produced by John Prusak and Kathy Vander, award-winning filmmakers who have been working in Detroit for more than 30 years. The producers will be on hand at the showing; as will De Giusti, who influenced several generations of Detroit artists during his tenure as a professor of art at Wayne State University; and Barile, De Giusti's friend of 25 years. The group will talk about the films individually and then together as part of a panel discussion.
The third film is the 15-minute documentary Shrines and Homemade Holy Places. Produced for VisionTV, it looks at work by visionary artists across North America, including Simon Rodia's famous "Watts Towers" in Los Angeles; Wisconsinite Tom Every's "Forevertron," a piece its creator says is designed to launch him into heaven when the time comes; and the "Screaming Head" sculptures of Peter Camani of Burks Falls, Ontario.
The showing of these three films about artists' inspiration and the relationship of their work to their particular communities, both in Detroit and elsewhere, fittingly coincides with part one of the annual DAM members show, curated this year by another longtime Detroit artist, Christine Hagedorn. It's a coming-together of Detroit's art tribe that only needs a drum circle to be complete.
Legacy in Bronze, Silvio: A Story About Art and Pizza and Shrines and Homemade Holy Places at Detroit Artists Market, 4719 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-8540. Screenings begin at 7 p.m. with a panel discussion featuring the producers and the artists immediately following. A minimum $5 donation is requested with proceeds benefiting DAM.Vince Carducci writes about art for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]