Charles Gibson/ Donald Anderson
1260 Library Street
Detroit (south of Grand River Avenue)
313 671 4447
Cafe de Troit
January 9 through January 30
Located beneath Lee Padgett’s Café de Troit, Jack Johnson has built an art gallery with the hopes that you will come. musee d’troit, as it is known, promises to showcase artists young and old, successful and emerging, even the homeless, in a variety of mediums. It’s an energizing concept – and means that you never know just what you are going to find on the gallery walls. This time up Donald Anderson and Charles Gibson, both members of the Gallery 4731 collective, receive the spotlight.
Donald Anderson, who also serves as director of Gallery 4731, primarily paints en plein aire about the streets of Detroit. His paintings are made fast and loose, and very sketchy. Some painters use this method more as studies to gather information for more elaborate pieces. Others prefer to preserve that freshness and immediacy that can only be captured in the moment and be done with it. In the latter case, this means some pieces will be little more than sketches with interesting bits and information to inform the next piece. However, in some pieces, all the elements come together and the piece truly sings.
Anderson really never misses – all of his paintings offer something to the viewer – but in some he really hits home. Mark making, color, composition, and subject matter all come together in just the right configuration, and the method of multiple quick paintings pays off in full. One such example is “Industrial View.” The marks that make the sky, the buildings, and the water all have their own unique quality, direction, and energy. The piece comes alive with an impressionistic and radiant color. Red and pink stand out, while turquoise peeks through a yellow haze. The smokes stacks stand tall, made of single straight marks that cut through the flowing and varied marks that make up the sky. Marks for the water shimmer and dance. Each view of the painting offers a new experience to discover.
Charles Gibson utilizes a monochromatic scheme to make bold paintings. The intense color of his figures helps them leap out from the cold, black background. They are to be sure striking visual pieces. However, where they shine as paintings, they are held back by the drawing. They come across as riffs from album covers, in no small part, because that’s what they are. One might argue that this is slippery territory to be in, in an age when Photoshop and image editing allows anyone to play around with existing imagery. Gibson possesses such a strong eye for color and contrast, it would be really great to see him push the drawing farther. This could mean doing more from life, taking his figures up to the high level he’s established with his painting. But it could also mean going the opposite direction, and letting go of a strict adherence to realism allowing his attention to color dominate. There are a few paintings on display here that express just that direction and represent a potential and viable pathway. In whatever course he follows, there’s a lot of strength on Gibson’s palette and brush, and the promise of more to come in the future.
As always Johnson gives visitors of his unique gallery something to feast their eyes on and something to look forward to in the next show. (Upstairs in Café de Troit you can find the Dopest Ethiopians, three young artists using photography, fabrics, and paint to express themselves. Check it out while you’re enjoying a break from the cold.) – Nick Sousanis