2009 Silver Medal Exhibition Review
The Scarab Club
Through March 29, 2009
Opening Reception March 6, 2009 -6PM -9PM
Rebecca Mazzei, Juror
The silver medal exhibition at the Scarab Club is an example of what a juried show can attain, given a juror with a spare and clear vision, when presented with good work. This show, of twenty one pieces juried down from over 300 has a romantic bent, made edgy by notions of the sublime, leavened by humor Seldom is a juried show thematic, instead you get the garden variety of the salon style inclusion of everyone that entered. It is a pleasure to see a clear theme woven into the fabric.
Not only is there a clear vision here, but the work is removed form the usual slash and burn romantic notions of Detroit. Gone, too are the cartoon notions, the cuteness that masks our anger. We’ve romanticized the gritty, abandoned, and industrialized. . The blood and guts toughness, the happenstance of found materials, assembled by art making, the rough romantic of isolation, the stark reality of a city that struggles for and celebrates survival. Artists often use the materials left behind, in skilled but raw reconstructions. This exhibit gives us a sophisticated Detroit Romantic, primarily 2 D, primed by traditional art materials used traditionally to convey ideas that work to tug questions beyond the obvious. So many who visit our city are surprised by the sophistication beyond clever, the vital art community that remains our quiet secret. This exhibition celebrates the romantic in work made with consummate skill to produce visions that point toward the sublime that undercurrent that electrifies and prickles, shadowy truths contemplated given time. We’re set here with the pull of being enticed, and the fascination with our truthful search and the need to pull away. Humor is the relief. Clichés cross the line toward remarkable work. Instead we have contemplative visions and gentle humor carried by refined skills.
This show, heavily figurative, has a number of works, all with a varying attitude. Bill Murcko’s Prospect, a painting of the tattooed biker, the alienated cowboy of our times is, off center and grimaces. He hums his own tune. Or Wanchuan Kesler’s Stratsbourg Café, the frontal at odds contorted, figure alienated with the urban life, isolated or in G. Jesse Gledhill’s Flowered Portrait, an Olidon Redon-esque lovely with flowers and butterflies in a feminine fade into the background. These outsiders are our whims unchecked, the tattoos, the alienation, the seduction. On the far side of the gallery hangs Stephen Schudlich’s Lo Sindaco Del Naso (The Mayor’s Nose), the all too human rendition of Kwame, the Pinocchio nose, with an endearing moon face, innocent hung high, we mentally complete the body, all sweetness, fingers crossed behind the back, the kid never to be found out, a bible quoting, lying scoundrel. Again, who of us hasn’t fibbed? The falling Icarus by Delores S. Slowinski is a nice play
Romantic also are the landscapes, made sublime in the intricacies by the webbing of paint application. Not merely pretty, but moody and intense. The humorous, yet monolithic Mendelson’s Mystique: The Third Wave or the beauty of Russell Dunbar’s Detroit Medbury Park Terrace, confrontational and beautifully painted, Pashka Lucaj Untitled, the landscape, sublime, with the dark undeciphered on the horizon. And Gerald C. Moore’s Summer Pastoral, with the subtlety of overall pattern greens fading into grey. These pieces are easy to dismiss, but again the sublime shows up in the unsettling intrusion of subtleties that come to the fore when contemplated, the subtleties that float to the surface and recede. Erika Fulk’s Alone, the donut in the water, the only photo is a strong and very odd image, so distinct is the image, so many questions are begged, it is impossible to determine… “No man is an island”, “we all float adrift” “big brother is watching” unsettling, discomforting. Again, the romantic cliché veers toward the sublime with real questions that we’ve all considered. We float toward shore, but continue our isolated orbit. But for all the monolithic questions, we’re relieved to chuckle. This is the great ping pong of this show, humor with horror sure statement with retreat, all very skilled. Also a mention in the show is the sweetness of Delores Slowinski’s Bliss, the sock monkey transported by butterflies. Is this fellow caught in flight being transported by the butterflies or is he transporting himself by his imagination? Detroit, all the way. This show is a terrific example of a group show that has a clear theme based on a sparse selection by the juror.