Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stephen Magsig @ David Klein

The show has already closed, but I did want to make a quick comment on Stephen Magsig @ David Klein Gallery. The show was titled "Light & Shadow," which made me think about the two bodies of work presented. On the one hand were the paintings of New York City storefronts (light) and on the other the more expansive landscapes of postindustrial Detroit (shadow). Indeed, the New York paintings are flooded with light dappling off the architectural detail. The paintings are all up close and (im)personal, drawing attention to the facades hiding whatever of the 8 million or so stories of the naked city taking place within. The Detroit paintings are permeated with melancholy, in many instances recording areas where nature is in the process of reclaiming culture. (John Ganis, the photographer whose main project consists of documenting the intersection of nature and culture and in particular those places where nature seems to be losing, should take some comfort however grim in this.) I owe to Dennis Nawrocki the observation that the painting "Downriver Reflections" (2010) re-presents the composition of a Twatchman painting in the DIA collection. On the whole, I preferred the Detroit paintings. (And I'll wager that in his heart of hearts, so does Steve.) I think of Charles Burchfield when I look at the industrial landscapes of Stephen Magsig, in particular his painting "Black Iron"from 1935. I know Steve doesn't like the regionalist label applied to his work, but he should take comfort in something Joyce Carol Oates wrote in Smithsonian a while back. She was writing about authors but it applies to artists as well I think. She said you can't think of Dickens without thinking about London or Faulkner without thinking about the South. I think the same is true for Picasso and Paris, Warhol and New York, etc. All I can say is, "Steve, you could find yourself in worse company."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Welcome to the Motown Review of Art

Over the past decade, the National Arts Journalism Project of the Columbia School of Journalism has released several studies on the decline in the depth and breadth of arts coverage in metropolitan media markets across the nation, the result primarily of industry consolidation and consequent synergies. Nowhere has this been more evident than in metropolitan Detroit. The irony is that the quality and quantity of visual arts production in particular in the region is as good as it has ever been, maybe even better.

The Motown Review of Art blog is an attempt to redress this dearth of coverage with an ongoing series of articles exploring topics that are otherwise going unreported. Some of the stories I contemplate include reviews of local art shows, artist’s profiles, and more in-depth coverage, such as investigating some of the spaces (for example, the Russell Industrial Center and North End Studios in Detroit) where the city’s productive legacy is being repurposed for the needs of a new creative class who may well be the future of our economic viability and major contributors to our quality of life.

The "MoRe Art" blog is a work in progress. I'll fooling around with changing the format, uploading, linking, and such as we go along. Check back from time to time to see what develops.