Show at Artists Market features pop colors, elegance

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

The open call for “Abstraction: Artist/Viewer/Dialog” at Detroit Artists Market brought in a small avalanche from local artists — 170 submissions.

With what must have been Herculean strength, Detroit artist and former College for Creative Studies professor Lester Johnson wrestled that number down to 38 pieces in this spacious, handsomely hung show that’s up through May 30.

“It was tough to whittle down,” says DAM exhibitions director Peter Gahan. “It came down to mathematics — what would fit. And some of the submissions were huge.”

Start with Katie Hawley’s huge “Come Again” at the Woodward Avenue end of the gallery.

Hawley’s created a knockout — a vast, multi-layered resin “painting” comprised of dazzling colors that all have the luminous reflectivity of glass. This abstract centers on two swirling circles, but every detail is arresting — including little bits of paint suspended between various layers of clear resin.

Hanging overhead a few steps away is Biz Drouillard’s “Starcrunch,” a remarkable mash-up that includes a straight-back chair and what appear to be tubing, gaskets and other unidentifiable objects, all glued or bolted together and painted neon yellow.

Like “Starcrunch” and “Come Again,” most of the works at the sunlit front of the gallery come in a rainbow of strong, pop colors.

An interesting exception is Annette Smith’s “Upheaval,” crafted from steel, twigs, wool and Catalpa pods. The end result is surprisingly elegant, a delicately constructed ship with billowing “sails” of wavy, dark-brown pods.

Little in this good-looking show merits the term “creepy,” but Kathleen Arkles’ “The ‘I’ Invisible,” a parade of lookalike, translucent humanoid sculptures created with ordinary packaging tape, fits that bill to a “t.” Identical, blank-faced creatures always call up science-fiction horrors, of course, and these half bodies — head, shoulder and one arm — have the look of a cloning experiment gone terribly wrong.

Still, there’s something beautiful — disturbingly beautiful, perhaps — in their reflective sheen, the way the layers of clear tape pick up color, and their mute expressiveness.

Mutely expressive, as well, is one of the few photographs in the show — Bruce Giffin’s “Blackboard Jungle,” a subtle, intriguing essay in geometry and color.

‘Abstraction: Artist/Viewer/Dialog’

Through May 30

Detroit Artists Market

4719 Woodward, Detroit

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday

(313) 832-8540

Other shows around town:

‘Detroit Boom City,’ with work by noted local artists including Scott Hocking and Sabrina Nelson, is an imaginative pop-up show in a one-time pickle factory on Detroit’s East Side through June 12. Visit for address and hours. In Hamtramck, Public Pool (313) 506-9048) hosts “Our Ephemeral Life” through June 27.