Abstraction takes center stage in two shows at the Janice Charach Gallery with “Rick Vian: Keeping a Wet Edge” and “Detroit Abstraction.”
Rick Vian’s fingerprints are all over both exhibitions. “Keeping a Wet Edge” is a solo show, while “Detroit Abstraction,” which Vian curated, is a 41-artist group show.
“I wanted to have more,” says the College for Creative Studies professor, “but the gallery said they didn’t have room.”
Both shows are up through Dec. 8 at the Charach Gallery inside the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit in West Bloomfield.
Taking the solo show first, those who only know Vian as a painter of compelling abstract work may be surprised to find a limited number of large, wooded landscapes on the walls.
Vian explains that, one way or another, his painting has always been about woods and trees.
“I’d get my inspiration by looking at the spaces between the branches, and doing ellipses and grids based on those ideas. Then I thought, what the heck — I should paint trees for a while and really learn about them.”
The results, like “Storm Break,” are striking, full of almost palpable weather.
Common to many of his large-scale abstracts, like “Voicing the Hammers,” is a light that emanates from the canvas center. This luminescence not only sets off the darker, branch-like forms around it, but also suggests something like mystical vision.
After taking in “Keeping a Wet Edge,” climb the stairs to “Detroit Abstractions,” which you’re likely to find well worth the time and effort.
This wide-ranging group show features newcomers and some of Detroit’s best-known names. There are, for example, pieces by two of the Cass Corridor movement’s greats, Brenda Goodman and Jim Chatelain.
There’s also a marvelous sculpture, “Ritual Icon II,” by Kresge eminent artist Charles McGee, who continues to produce art in his 90s that’s as punchy as anything he’s ever made.
But there’s also work by young artists, like Brian Lacey, a recent CCS student of Vian’s, whose “Lost & Found” is a thoughtful exercise in color and abstracted geometry.
If Lacey works in color, Barbara Dorchen goes to the other extreme, with nine narrow, stacked canvases filled with dense black-and-gray studies — making for more-intriguing study than initially thought.
Two artists who work in gold leaf, albeit in very different ways, are worth seeking out — Meighen Jackson and Dayton Spence.
Jackson’s “Grasses Renewed,” three vertical panels populated by circles, crescents and looping, ribbon-like forms, is mesmerizing and utterly beautiful.
So too is Spence’s “3001 Miller Road,” a kaleidoscopic exercise in strong color and gold and copper leaf that has a sort of Asian sensibility to it.
“Dayton’s an ex-Marine and Vietnam veteran,” Vian says.
“I wouldn’t call it decorative because it goes way beyond that. It’s wild stuff.”
‘Rick Vian: Keeping a Wet Edge’ and ‘Detroit Abstraction’
Through Dec. 8
Janice Charach Gallery, Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit, 6600 W. Maple, West Bloomfield
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Wed.; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thur.; noon-4 p.m. Sun.