Lay it as it plays

Sep 20, 2006 at 12:00 am

For the fall arts issue, the task at hand for a few Metro Times critics was to simply pick artists they favor and explain why. I never expected six essays about Jim Henson’s severed limbs and machines that mock and mess up mankind, but that seems to be the shape of things to come this season in Detroit’s art scene. Sort of like the chance encounter of a sewing machine and, well, maybe not an umbrella, but a hamburger, on a dissecting table.

Christina Hill writes about John Azoni’s “inanimate rabbit and carrot” and Ann Gordon’s “mangled, abused toys.” Vince Carducci details Meghan Harris’ “blobby creatures” and Miroslav Cukovic’s “antenna and headset for tuning in secret messages from who-knows-where.” Glen Mannisto mentions Evan Larson’s “Rube Goldberg-like machine” and Mary Fortuna’s “puppets controlled by an awful unseen force.”

About her dolls, Fortuna says, “I guess you could think of them as Barbie’s more out-there friends. The ones she wouldn’t bring home to meet her parents.” In these pages, we got not one, but two distinct references to Hieronymus Bosch, an original surrealist.

Could there be a movement in the works? These artists are at play. They’re teasing out their ideas, and teasing viewers too, with creatures and landscapes far removed from this world, so they can work out their ideas about this world. It isn’t about escapism; it’s about confrontation. How do we act in absurd times? We stand art on its head. Surrealism better maps our psychological terrain than reality does.

Although seemingly working in a representational style, I chose to profile Ruth Goens, an artist more than deserving of recognition. For decades, Goens has been working clay so it feels the burn, making her figures say something, like Michelangelo did, of a tormented culture. And Scott Hocking’s project for an upcoming show at Susanne Hillberry Gallery (Oct. 6-Nov. 25) graces our cover. The image of him creating his wild posse right here on a city street is a bridge to what lies ahead in art this season.
— Rebecca Mazzei


Quick-change artist
by Christina Hill
John Azoni makes the right moves.

His own country
by Vince Carducci
Miroslav Cukovic’s conceptula charm.

It’s only make-believe
by Christina Hill
Ann Gordon’s slaughterhouse — or candy store?

Monkeying around
by Vince Carducci
Meghan Harris’ cute and subversive world.

All dolled up
by Glen Mannisto
The elusive air of Mary Fortuna’s art.

Twist & shout
by Rebecca Mazzei
Ruth Goen’s guys and gals in motion.

Creative complex
by Glen Mannisto
Evan Larson goes from metal to meta.

Rebecca Mazzei is the arts editor for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]