The human form stars in Charach Gallery exhibit

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

The human form gets its due starting Sunday at the Janice Charach Gallery with “Exploring the Figure,” and in the process brings together a dazzlingly disparate group of 10 Detroit artists.

The show within West Bloomfield’s Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit runs through Feb. 18.

“The big idea was that we wanted a really broad range of artists,” says gallery director Kelly Kaatz, “from master realist John Hegarty to pop-artist Niagara, and everything in between.”

And that’s just what they got. Other artists, all well worth a look, include Bruce Giffin, Deborah Marlowe Kashdan, Bowen Kline, Camille LaMontagne, Tony Roko, Slaw, Michelle Tanguay and Paula Zammit.

The work spans the gamut, from Giffin’s affecting photographs of rough-looking Detroiters to Zammit’s breathtaking “American Woman.”

In the latter, Zammit — who became an artist in middle age, after graduating from the College for Creative Studies — crops the painting to highlight the model’s waist and endless legs draped in a revealing skirt.

“I love how Paula cuts her right off at the top of the torso,” Kaatz says, “just focusing on the skirt and those beautiful legs.”

It’s the sort of judgment call that might land a male artist in all sorts of trouble, but coming from a woman, loses all sense of exploitation or belittling gaze.

Cheerfully willing to risk accusations of political incorrectness, however, is Slaw, whose cartoonish portrait of a corset-wearing, martini-slugging vixen in black stockings is sheer, mid-century modern fun.

“It’s kind of Jetsons meets the Rat Pack,” Slaw says in his artist’s statement.

By contrast, Hegarty’s “Self Portrait, Age 75,” brings us right back to earth.

When you’re talking the body, the artistic tendency is to go with youth and beauty. But Hegarty gives us an unsparing charcoal portrait of an intelligent face, framed by glasses, with all the shifts that eight decades inevitably bring.

But the Wayne State art-professor emeritus insists he’s dazzled by how human beauty evolves with age. “I am fascinated,” he says, “with painting and drawing this natural process.”



‘Exploring the Figure’

Sunday - Feb. 18

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. Thurs.; noon-4 p.m Sun.

(248) 432-5579