'Less-is-more' minimalism at Detroit Artists Market

Michael H. Hodges
The Detroit News
"Echo" by Lois Teicher, one of the few strongly colored pieces in the minimalist show at Detroit Artists Market.

Architect Mies van der Rohe, who built Detroit's Lafayette Park in high International style, famously declaimed, "Less is more" -- a good summary of the architect's precise minimalism.

With a nod to the venerable Chicagoan, the Detroit Artists Market hosts a 20-artist group show, "Thank You, Mies," with an opening reception Friday from 6 p.m.-9 p.m.

As exhibition curator Dennis A. Nawrocki noted, "Detroit’s art scene is rife with overheated expressionism (and) gritty assemblages," not that there's anything wrong with that. But in response, he's organized a show emphasizing severe clarity. 

"I'd wanted to do this for a number of years," said Nawrocki, a writer and critic who teaches at Wayne State University, "ever since the 'Ménage À Detroit' show I did for George N'Namdi (at Midtown's N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art) back in 2012.

"I remember thinking," he added, "you know -- there's an alternative to this."

The alternative, "Thank You," unsurprisingly has a cool, almost hushed aesthetic -- one that often, but not always, plays with geometric forms. 

Trafficking in that vocabulary is Simone DeSousa's 3-D composition "Calculating with Absence (The Temple of Bliss and Emptiness, 3)," a rectangular "frame" with one intriguingly missing corner.

Elegant minimialism from Simone DeSousa:  "Calculating with Absence (The Temple of Bliss and Emptiness, 3)" at Detroit Artists Market.

"Wasn't that a nice surprise?" asked Nawrocki. "It opens right up. I was so pleased to have it, and how it opens up to everything to its right, carrying your eyes down the length of the wall." 

With its subdued, neutral gray acrylic -- and one contrary, dark-gray angle darting off to the left -- it's got the sort of sotto-voce elegance any architectural modernist would admire. 

Speaking with a louder voice is Lois Teicher's "Echo," two identical, welded aluminum panels in striking blue, superimposed on top of one another and folded at the middle. 

"I was really pleased to find that," Nawrocki said, noting how different it is from the "gigantic outdoor pieces" Teicher is best known for -- think of her striking silver sculpture outside the Scarab Club.

"I was particularly pleased given that it's done in that cerulean blue, as she called it," he added. 

Standing in front of Brian Kritzman's "White Tablet" is a completely different experience, and one with more rough-hewn detail than most of these stripped-down exercises display.

Brian Kritzman's "White Tablet" in "Thank You, Mies" at Detroit Artists Market.

Two long, black boards joined at an angle hold a square piece of gleaming porcelain that's symmetrically wedged into a crevice where the boards meet. 

"I was looking through a sheaf of old sculpture shows," Nawrocki said, "and there was Brian's really nice, surprising image."

Finally, don't miss David Edward Parker's "From One Many," a graphite rectangle comprised of wavy, horizontal lines -- a bit like like a warped Venetian blind -- superimposed on a mottled gray background. 

"David's worked that piece over and over across a number of years," Nawrocki said. "He's said he's loved it and hated it, and loved it and hated it, and worked on it from 2012 to 2019."

David Edward Parker's "From One Many" at the Detroit Artists Market.

Other artists in the show are Scott Berels, Brian Caponi, Vincent Castagnacci, James Collins, Larry Cressman, Cynthia Greig, Janet Hamrick, Lester Johnson, Laith Karmo, Ian McDonald, Paul Kotula, John Rizzo, David Rubello, Kate Silvio, Todd Stovall and Joe Zajac.

"Thank You, Mies" is up through July 20. 

(313) 222-6021


'Thank You, Mies'

Friday-July 20

Detroit Artists Market, 4719 Woodward, Detroit

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tues.-Sat.

Opening reception Friday 6 p.m.-9 p.m.

(313) 832-8540