Two Midtown photo exhibitions right across the street from one another beckon invitingly on this first wintry weekend. 

The annual photography show at Detroit's Scarab Club and "Lost & Found," with work by ordinary citizens at the Detroit Institute of Arts, illustrate the medium's range -- from artistic finesse to the punch and power of spontaneous snapshots. 

Scarab's "2018 Photography Competition" will be up through Nov. 17. "Lost & Found" will close March 3.

Taking the former first, this exhibition in the venerable art club's airy first-floor gallery makes for a highly enjoyable walk-through, with images that include urban landscapes, photographic abstracts, and portraiture. 

"I’m a little less interested in straightforward photography," said Wayne State photography Prof. Millee Tibbs, who juried the show, "and more interested in images that ask questions, are a little more poetic, or deal with the materiality in an interesting way."  

That's certainly the case with John Dykstra's intriguing black-and-white "Penalty Box," in which a crouching man is drawing the white outlines of a cube that appears to box him in. 

By contrast, the first-place winner, "Tae" by Kate Gowman, reads like a no-nonsense color portrait, but one in which Tibbs saw unexpected force. 

" 'I felt the subject was really giving it back to the photographer in a powerful way," she said, "and that the portrait's large scale made it a really compelling image."

Elegant and a little haunting is "The Pear" by Darrell Ellis, who used to work at The Detroit News. In this image, a black woman with gleaming skin holds a white pear that appears to be made out of glass. 

Ellis took an honorable mention for another portrait, "Olusike # 3," but "The Pear" is an equally striking exercise in tonality and contrast. 

Other prize-winners include second-place Chris Bennett and Antonia Stoyanovich in third. Three honorable mentions went to Jerry Basierbe, Daniella Gobetti and Ellis.

With "Lost & Found," the DIA presents about 200 photographs from 1865-1980 by anonymous photographers, or lesser-known practitioners, all discovered after being discarded and donated by collectors and artists to the museum.

As the wall label summarizing "The Found Photograph" notes, these amount to a sort of folk art -- "the creative expressions of everyday people produced outside of the rules and traditions of fine or high art."

It's a dizzying, absorbing array, from the huge, opening shot that greets you of a young couple a split second from a kiss, "Untitled" (attributed to Allen Stross), to a charmingly routine shot of a woman in a straw hat with one hand on her 1960s Dodge Dart or Plymouth Valiant, again by an unknown shooter. 

One of the most delightful early photos is a 1915 untitled shot by Wendall Hotter of "Herbert Hotter and Girlfriends, Detroit," in which four amused women stand in a line, all leaning against Mr. Hotter, who looks mighty pleased. 

Also highly entertaining is a series of pictures, "Are We There Yet? Snapshots from the Road," the high point of which is a little boy between his parents in a 1950s-era car who's turned around to face the photographer in the backseat.

(313) 222-6021

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy


'2018 Photography Competition'

Through Nov. 17

Scarab Club, 217 Farnsworth, Detroit

Noon-5 p.m. Wed.-Sun. 


(313) 831-1250


'Lost & Found: Photographs from the DIA's Collection'

Through Mar. 3 

Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward, Detroit

9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues.-Thurs; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. 

$14, adults; $9, seniors; $8, college students; $6, kids 6-17; free, members and Wayne, Oakland or Macomb residents

(313) 833-7900 

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