Belle Isle tiles star in Pewabic annual sale

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

Nuts about Pewabic?

Then drop everything and hustle into the city to East Jefferson and Cadillac. Michigan’s great arts-and-crafts pottery is holding its 25th Annual “For the House & Garden Show” through the weekend, and is using the opportunity to release several new tiles with Belle Isle themes.

“We’ll have a big tent that covers the whole front parking lot,” says Steve McBride, Pewabic’s new executive director, “and will fill that with a celebration of ceramic arts from all over the country.”

More than 80 artists will be represented.

This will be McBride’s first House & Garden Show, given that he just arrived at the 112-year-old pottery in March from the Interlochen Center for the Arts, where he was director of annual giving.

New Pewabic designs sure to become instant classics are three tiles drawn from Detroit’s island park. One features ironwork from a Belle Isle bridge, another the Albert Kahn-designed Aquarium, and the third — likely to be a huge hit, it’s a safe bet — a gorgeous glazed tile starring the MacArthur Bridge from the mainland.

The featured artist this year will be Abigail Murray of Ann Arbor, who creates elegant, white-textured porcelain for daily use.

Docents will also lead tours through the Pewabic studios, and there will be live demonstrations by students and artists alike. On Saturday and Sunday, a beer garden will materialize on the grounds, selling food and suds from Detroit’s Atwater Brewery.

Still need another ceramics fix? Motawi Tileworks (734-213-0017) holds its summer “mega-sale” Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in Ann Arbor.

Or if you’d like to broaden your art experience, after hitting Pewabic, consider swinging by the Scarab Club behind the Detroit Institute of Arts to catch “Blooms, Bugs, Beasts,” curated by local artist Andy Krieger, he of the remarkable dioramas. (As curator, of course, none of Krieger’s work is in the show, which is to be much regretted.)

Over 200 artists submitted 600-odd works for consideration. How that got whittled down to 49 pieces is anyone’s guess, but what survived — the distillate, if you will — is very cool and makes for a fun show.

As you’d guess in a show with this title, animals figure prominently, including a 1/10th-size hippopotamus by John Michaels and a life-sized, disturbingly realistic monkey playing an accordion by Suzanne Lussier.

Striking and rather mythic are Mary Fortuna’s painted wood panel,”King of Snakes with Lotus and Crow,” and “Blue Evening Crow/Elmwood” by Frederic Ward, in which a raven surveys tombstones in Detroit’s Elmwood Cemetery.

And don’t miss Joe Levickas’ “Feats of Strength,” a multi-panel gouache-and-pencil work that dominates one end of the gallery with its circus strongman holding a baby elephant on his back.

Nice work if you can get it.

More art around town:

A number of cool shows kick off this weekend, including “LAX/DTW” at Detroit’s Inner State Gallery (313-744-6505) on Saturday, and “INK.2 Detroit” at Tangent Gallery (313-873-2955) Friday. On Saturday in Ann Arbor, the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology (734-764-9304) will open “Rocks, Paper, Memory: Wendy Artin’s Watercolor Paintings of Ancient Sculptures.”

‘For the House and Garden Show’

Through Sunday

Pewabic Pottery, 10125 E. Jefferson, Detroit

Thursday: 6:30-9 p.m., Preview Party fundraiser, $75 per person

Friday & Saturday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Sunday: Noon- 4 p.m.

(313) 626-2000 for Preview Party tickets; (313) 822-0954 for all other inquiries

‘Blooms, Bugs, Beasts’

Through June 27

Scarab Club, 217 Farnsworth, Detroit

Noon-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday

(313) 831-1250