All posts by Essay'd

64 Matthew Angelo Harrison

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Born Detroit, 1989 / BFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago / Lives in Detroit

Some time ago a camel was shot. Later, artist Matthew Harrison acquired the animal’s right shoulder bone, complete with a ragged pre-existing bullet hole, and CNC cut a 130 mm diameter cylindrical through-hole, creating the sculpture Untitled (2015). Harrison’s simple intervention leads to a number of profound comparisons. First, the cut hole is jarringly precise, but still crude relative to the free-flowing shape of the bone. If the cut hole is a surrogate for man’s technical prowess, then it is also a reminder of how unsophisticated our engineering skills remain in relation to those of nature. Second, and this may be closer to the artist’s intentions, the physical violence of the gunshot hole seems archaic in comparison to the surgical symbolic-violence of the cut hole. If the gunshot hole symbolizes a period from the late-colonial era onwards, the cut hole can only point to the digital age. Continue reading

61 Ed Fraga

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Born Imlay City, MI, 1956 / BFA, Wayne State University / Lives in Troy, MI

Ed Fraga remembers as a child taking a sheet of cardboard, folding it into a box, and looking at it, being thrilled to realize he’d created a small but powerful object. Later he started to populate the box, with dioramas, stage sets, magic shows for neighborhood kids, and other constructs of his imagination. “In a way,” he says, “I’m still trying to fill the box.” Continue reading

59 Renata Palubinskas

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Born Kaunas, Lithuania, 1968 / Diploma in Fine Art and Restoration, St. Zukas Technium of Applied Arts, Kaunus, Lithuania / Lives in Beverley Hills, MI

Lithuania, Renata Palubinskas confides, was the last place in Europe to embrace Christianity, maintaining its pantheistic pagan beliefs as late as the fourteenth century. A similar sense, of being out of sync with prevailing currents, and instead embracing the richness of the distant past, pervades Palubinskas’s own extensive body of paintings. She is an especially wholehearted artist, making full use of a rigorous Eastern European education in traditional painting and drawing techniques to take on big topics, such as mortality and the search for enlightenment, with great joy. Her quest is a spiritual one, drawing insights from all religions, but finding the most compelling answers in writings from the Hindu tradition. She talks of the beauty she finds in martial arts, and if pressed will admit to having a black belt in karate. Continue reading

57 Robert Sestok

 

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Born Detroit, 1946/Studied College for Creative Studies, Detroit; Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine; Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan/Lives in Detroit

Rarely does one get to see a full bore display of an artist’s oeuvre, all at once and all in one place. Robert Sestok counts as the standout exception in the Motor City, where he has engineered, from purchase and design to sodding and installing, an open air anthology of his sculptural practice. His City Sculpture park, located at Alexandrine and the Lodge Freeway northbound service drive, features an array of some three dozen sculptures, each centered on concrete pads laid out in a grid. Encompassing four contiguous city lots, and furnished with Sestok-built benches to offer a respite and meditative break from strolling about, this expansive public-private sward—it is open seven days a week—is a welcome oasis within Detroit’s Cass Corridor neighborhood. Continue reading

56 Carl Demeulenaere

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Born Detroit, 1956 / BFA, Wayne State University/ Lives in Grosse Pointe, MI

To understand Carl Demeulenaere it is best to approach his art from the perspective of technique, but also to remain conscious that the resulting work originates from a place of deep-rooted anger. Demeulenaere sets out to seduce you with color and craft. He sees himself as a “contemporary Pre-Raphaelite,” seeking to emulate the 19th century English “brotherhood” who themselves sought a return to the detail and intense coloring of 15th century Italian art. Continue reading

55 Alex Buzzalini

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Born Warren, MI, 1990/BFA, Wayne State University/Lives in Hamtramck, MI

Alex Buzzalini stands in the carpeted living room/art studio of his Hamtramck flat. The walls are covered with his paintings, some on paper, some on canvas. Shelves hold an array of his sculptural work: a pointy Red Cowboy Boot (2015) made of duct tape, a brick transformed into a fruitcake. With a can of Stroh’s in his hand, he explains that to get a really good look at anything, he has to back up into the other room. He keeps an old Herman Miller chair in the entry hall, an ashtray as well, and a book he’s been reading about the American West, all for the purpose of looking and contemplating. Continue reading

54 Andrea Eis

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Born New York, 1952/BA, Beloit College/BFA, Minneapolis College of Art and Design/MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art/Lives in Royal Oak, Michigan

With a virtual wave of the hand, Andrea Eis beckons all seekers of enlightenment to traverse an enfilade of tall columns for a consultation with the Oracle of Delphi. In this 1992 installation, a large, impassive visage of the priestess awaits the curious visitor at the end of the processional way. Once in her presence, red vinyl letters affixed to the photograph announce: SHE SPOKE HER MIND. Simultaneously, the truth seeker notes that at her feet, embedded in rocks on the floor, another phrase claims: THEY HEARD HIS. This startling contradiction, like a wallop to the head, swiftly apprises the visitor of the phallocentric dynamic between genders—then and now. As Eis asserts: “From Antigone’s battle with her conscience and her sense of moral duty, to Demeter’s conflict over separation from her daughter, mythic people struggled with dilemmas we still encounter.”

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52 Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope

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Gina Reichert, Born Cincinnati, OH, 1974 / BArch, Tulane University, MArch, Cranbrook Academy of Art / Lives in Detroit

Mitch Cope, Born Detroit, 1973 /  BA, Center for Creative Studies; MFA, Washington State University /  Lives in Detroit

There are effectively two periods in the recent history of Detroit art: before and after the publication of “For Sale: The $100 House,” the now infamous 2009 New York Times article that extolled the creative possibilities of minimally priced Detroit real-estate by relating the experiences of Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope, the couple behind art/architecture practice Design 99, and the artist-run, neighborhood-based nonprofit Power House Productions. After the article was published the pair were deluged with interview requests, and with e-mails from artists around the world requesting information on how to move to Detroit and participate. They decided that for a period of two months they would try to answer every media approach they received. At the end of that period their lives were irreversibly changed, and if the truth be told, so was the narrative of Detroit art. Continue reading

49 Marcelyn Bennett-Carpenter

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Born Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1971/BA, Wheaton College, Illinois; BFA, University of Colorado at Denver; MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art/Lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Marcelyn Bennett-Carpenter would like for you, the viewer, to be involved. Engagement with her work, ideally, goes beyond aesthetic appreciation; her pieces are designed for physical interaction: wearing, blowing, navigating, and especially stretching. Tension is the fundamental quality of weaving; as a fiber artist, accomplished weaver, and instructor at Cranbrook’s Kingswood Weaving and Fiber Art Studio, Bennett-Carpenter’s work is fraught with a baseline tension that is belied at first blush by soft palettes and inviting surfaces.

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48 Jason Murphy

 

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Born Detroit, 1976 / BA, Bennington College; MFA, Columbia University / Lives in Hamtramck

There is a chrysalis-like flux in the recent artworks of Jason Murphy. You feel it in the roughness of his constructions, as if we’ve interrupted a process, caught something between stages, or found artwork paused mid-construction. You find it in the vacillation of materials, a bit precarious and unstable, with histories and symbolism referencing building, but also breakdown, negligence, and accident. This is artwork precise and unstable, beautiful but a bit unsettling. Continue reading