Category Archives: Steve Panton

20 Dylan Spaysky

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Born Waterford, Michigan, 1981 / BFA, College for Creative Studies / Lives in Hamtramck, Michigan

How do you construct a life in the ex-urban cultural wasteland of Waterford? How do you create meaning from the detritus of America’s lowest-common-denominator consumer culture? Two questions that may, or may not, interest the artist Dylan Spaysky. Most likely he would politely decline any such lofty dimensions to his work.

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18 Elizabeth Youngblood

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Born Detroit, 1952 / BFA, University of Michigan; MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art / Lives in Detroit

Elizabeth Youngblood’s work combines great personality and remarkable restraint. Typically starting from a monochrome palette and the repeated graphical element of the line, she has utilized her dexterity with fiber, wire, ceramics, drawing, and paper to quietly produce a visually coherent body of work that has continued to evolve over a period of several decades.

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15 Frank Pahl

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Born Trenton, Michigan, 1958 / BA Wayne State University, MFA University of Michigan / Lives in Wyandotte, Michigan

As we enter the age of “the internet of things,” with its universal connectivity and planned obsolescence, what to make of an artist like Frank Pahl who uses almost theatrically non-standard ways to connect discarded objects into sound-making mechanisms? Continue reading

13 Scott Hocking

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Born Redford, Michigan, 1975 / BFA, College for Creative Studies / Lives in Detroit

If James Brown was the hardest working man in show business, Scott Hocking is arguably the hardest working artist in Detroit. Even a virtual trip through the monumental site-specific installations, photographic studies, and gallery projects on his website is an exhausting business. But hard work can only get you so far, and doesn’t by itself explain how Hocking, alongside contemporaries such as Clinton Snider and Mitch Cope, has managed to develop an international practice based in, and often quite literally on, the city of Detroit.

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09 Carl Wilson

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Born Detroit, 1956 / Lives in Hamtramck, Michigan

Carl Wilson’s autobiographical print projects are clever, heartfelt, and often filled with self-deprecating humor, but most of all they show an artist with an exceptionally refined capacity to reflect unflinchingly on life, its pleasures and demons. To be sure, Wilson has seen more than his fair share of the latter: raised in humble and difficult circumstances on Detroit’s east side, falling prey early in his life to a manipulative religious organization he calls “the cult,” spending years breaking his health in automotive assembly plants, and then finally, after emerging from all these tribulations into a new phase of his life, suffering cancer and two years of total deafness. All this informs the story of a natural artist who, thanks in part to a timely buyout from Ford Motor Company, but more importantly the loving support of his new wife and emergence from the constraints of a stifling religion, decided late in life to devote himself full-time to his work. It also explains the apparently fearless way in which he opens himself up through his work—for after all these experiences, what more is there to worry about?

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07 Corine Vermeulen

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Born Gouda, the Netherlands, 1977 / BFA, The Design Academy, Eindhoven; MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art / Lives in Detroit

Photographer Corine Vermeulen’s meticulously constructed projects, such as Your Town Tomorrow (Detroit, 2007–12), The Walk-in Portrait Studio (Detroit, 2009–14), and Obscura Primavera (Medelin, Colombia, 2009–14), reflect an artist willing to devote significant periods of time to, and seriously immerse herself in, her subject. Her works display an exemplary combination of empathy for their subjects and a very European sense of distance. The resulting images are instantly recognizable while remaining constantly surprising in their freshness.

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04 Kathleen Rashid

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Born Detroit, 1956 / BFA, BA, Wayne State University / Lives in Detroit

Alongside contemporaries such as Ed Fraga and Carl Demeulenaere, Kathleen Rashid is one of a prodigiously talented group of artists who emerged from Wayne State University’s art department in the mid to late 1970s. By all accounts she arrived on the earth with a fully formed ability to draw, and at Wayne entered a school still basking in the glow of the “Cass Corridor” era and awash with experienced and talented teachers such as Robert Wilbert and Pat Quinlan. She emerged ready to paint whatever she saw.

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01 Saffell Gardner

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Born Detroit 1954 / BFA, MFA, Wayne State University / Lives in Highland Park, Michigan

Over a career spanning five decades, painter Saffell Gardner has created a large body of work that combines a consistent, and highly personal, artistic vocabulary with a relentless desire to experiment through new materials and techniques. Working at the edge of the tradition belatedly recognized as Afro-Futurism, and inhabiting a creative state that allows him to move easily between abstraction and symbolism, Gardner has used his practice to extensively explore, and creatively re-imagine, the past, present, and future of the African diaspora in America. Continue reading