‘Art @ The Max III’ offers art with your music

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

“Art @ The Max III” at the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center is a handsome group endeavor featuring some of Detroit’s best-known artists, including Nicole Macdonald and Scott Hocking.

These exhibitions in a musical venue are the result of collaboration between the Detroit art journal, Essay’d, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Intended to perk up empty walls at The Max, they also, organizers hope, engage symphonic audiences who may or may not attend regular gallery shows.

“The unspoken actor in all this is the space itself,” said show curator Steve Panton, founder of Hamtramck’s 9338 Campau gallery and Essay’d contributor, “because it’s very big.”

That’s an understatement. It’s a testament to much of the art on display that it’s punchy enough to hold its own against the Fisher Center’s cavernous spaces and visual drama.

Fittingly, when you walk in off Woodward, the first thing you’ll see is painter Macdonald’s huge portrait of the late Detroit activist Ron Scott.

Painted in the artist’s gorgeous, mottled style (call it Detroit neo-Impressionism), this is a close cousin to a Scott portrait at 3343 Gratiot, one of the empty buildings whose windows Macdonald’s filled with her affecting “Detroit Portrait Series” celebrating local heroes past and present.

On the second floor of The Max, overlooking its square central atrium, you’ll find the haunting “Girls’ School” by Jo Powers, starring three young women in a Catholic school — and a color scheme that practically leaps and grabs you by the lapels.

(Another Powers work on the third floor, “Dark Group,” is far more muted in appearance, but equally powerful, no pun intended.)

Well worth seeking out as well are Maya Stovall’s photo prints and video, in which the artist — trained in classical ballet, as well as economics — dances in highly unlikely locales.

Particularly intriguing are her “Liquor Store Theatre” photos on the third floor, in which she’s caught spontaneously performing outside what often constitutes the only commerce in her distressed Detroit neighborhood.

Other artists in “Art @ The Max III” include Matt Corbin, Sydney G. James and Andrew Thompson, all of whom have been profiled in previous iterations of Essay’d.


(313) 222-6021

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy

‘Art @ The Max III’

Through Dec. 21

Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward, Detroit

Open during concerts and other performances at The Max and Orchestra Hall

(313) 576-5111