Review: DAM Unmentionables

Review: DAM Unmentionables

Drawings by Vagner Whitehead

Until July 16, 2011, the Detroit Artists Market presents Unmentionables: The Underwear Show.
Jack Summers and Gary Eleinko curated the show, and they used this platform to challenge established artists. They asked artists to create work based on this theme, so it was not a traditional call for entry process. Jack told me that because they “asked very established artists, [they] knew [the artists] would step up to the plate and ‘deliver’…which they did.”

Deborah Kashdan’s series of works

The show’s theme creates a specific risk: artists would deliver immature work. It’s a theme that can inspire imagery that ranges from the erotic to the hamper. But the majority of the artists used the theme to challenge themselves as artists to create mature work.

My favorite piece is Topher Crowder’s Yelo Kiteh. In this piece, Crowder creates a strong, stylized image of an erotic, provocative African American woman etched on orange Plexiglas. He created the woman with belt buckles, wires, telephones, and other objects. She is seductive, and she conjures references of blaxploitation film and R. Crumb illustrations. Yet the medium and execution is purely original and purely Crowder.

I also enjoyed Claudia Shepard’s contribution to the show, Longing. It is a beautifully executed oil painting of negligee hung in a closet. The image initially strikes you as simply an attractive and delicate silk negligee. You then notice that the negligee appears torn. Then you notice that the silk imagery is contrasted harshly with a background stained with a dark blood red. The execution, composition, and titling of this work intrigues me.

There was one piece that I found in poor taste because the artist used the theme to create a piece about sexualizing adolescents. The piece is by Julie Lambert and titled My Little Pony L.H.O.O.Q. The piece consists of several panties (which appear to range in size from an adult to a child) repeated over a toy “my little pony” doll. To dispel any question about the artist’s intent, she titles her work with “L.H.O.O.Q.,” which is a reference to a work by Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp titled one of his ready-mades, a postcard image of Mona Lisa with a mustache, “L.H.O.O.Q.” as a pun based on it sounding like “she has a hot ass” when read aloud in French.

That piece aside, this is a strong show that brings together an eclectic group of artists that work in various media and with widely different and intriguing points of view.

“Twisted” made out of lead by Mark Esse

The Detroit Artists Market is open from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays. It is located at 4719 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201, just down from The Detroit Institute of Arts. Its website is www.detroitartistsmarket.org.

(Photos courtesy of Cedric Tai)