150 Metro Detroit artists on display in Corktown

Myesha Johnson
The Detroit News
Catherine and Charles Peet, of Royal Oak, look at artwork after viewing the artwork of their niece, Sofia Bicego named, 'Scratch My Back (and I'll scratch yours), bottom right, Wednesday afternoon, March 8, 2023.

Detroit― Whiskey bottles, yarn and silver platform heels are some of the items used in a new art exhibition in Corktown.

Reyes Finn, a contemporary art gallery on 1500 Trumbull Street, has more than 150 pieces of artwork on display made by Michigan artists.

"Get Together," which spotlights Metro Detroit artists, is the largest showing since the gallery's opening in 2018.

"A lot of the artists, we've never worked with before," said Bridget Finn, a gallery co-owner. "This seemed like a really great way to check in with the artists that are living and working here, and see what everyone is up to right now."

Managing Director Bridget Finn poses among artwork from more than 150 Detroit artists during the Get Together gallery exhibition at her art gallery called, Reyes Finn, on Trumbull at Labrosse in Corktown, Wednesday afternoon, March 8, 2023. A majority of the artwork is for sale from $200-$24,000.

Elijah Majeski, the gallery's manager, and Finn invited more than 200 artists and galleries to submit a piece. Submissions for the show were constrained only by size, 30 inches by 30 inches, and creators had free reign with material, content and style.

"Detroit has so many incredible galleries, so working with them to bring all the artists together was really fun," Finn said.

About 1,000 patrons came to the Corktown gallery on opening night Feb. 25, according to Finn. She was surprised because COVID-19 reflected more narrow attendance in previous exhibits.

"We've had so many people reach out and say it was such a nice break post-COVID, and being sort of separate for so long, it really did feel like a collaborative celebration of art in Detroit," Finn said.

"In this show, everybody really turned it up," she said. "The artists really gave works that are pretty impactful."

Heather Macali, a Beverly Hills resident and professor at Wayne State University, came to the gallery March 2 to study the show without the large crowd that was there during the exhibit's opening.

"It was wonderful that that many people came out," said Macali, who has a rainbow weaving on display at the gallery. "Every time you walk around, you see another piece."

Heather Macali, 38, poses next to her creation on March 2, 2023 at Reyes Finn gallery in Corktown.

Patrons who want to support Reyes Finn and the artists in "Get Together" can buy pieces on display, which range from $200 to $24,000.

"Artists need money, time and space to work. Selling their work is a great way to put cash in their pocket to be able to continue to make work and support themselves," Finn said. "Especially in Detroit, supporting that art's infrastructure through sales is so important, so I always encourage collectors to buy locally."

As of March 15, the gallery had sold 26 of the pieces, which remain on display until May 6, when the exhibit is over. Pieces that have been sold then will be distributed to purchasers.

"It's a bit longer than we would run a show, but because there are so many local artists, we want to make sure everybody gets a chance to see it," Finn said, adding that "Get Together" is on display about a month longer than the usual six- to eight-week period.

The exhibit is free and the gallery is open from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

While the art pieces are on display, the gallery will feature performances by Biba Bell, an artist in "Get Together" and a recent Detroit Opera House performer, and Navjeet Kaur, an artist with two pieces on display at Reyes Finn. Kaur will do a body sculpture performance on Earth Day, April 22.

Others on display are Allie McGhee, 82, who created an acrylic canvas with orange and yellow circles, Sydney G. James, 44, who submitted a study, a small replica of a piece that will be done in a larger form that she calls "Implicit Bias Training?" and Beverly Fishman, an artist whose works are on display internationally.

A canvass, left, by Allie McGhee, named, 'Cosmic Rings,' with glass cognac bottles, right, by Tony Rave named, 'The Colonel,' Wednesday afternoon, March 8, 2023.

James, a Cass Technical High School graduate, said she loves participating in the show with some of her mentees and peers like Bakpak Durden, Phillip Simpson and Tony Rave.

She's a commercial and fine artist with an 8,000-square foot mural of a black women wearing multi-colored scarves and a Detroit earring on the Chroma office building on Grand Boulevard. She chose a similar concept for the exhibit at Reyes Finn.

An 8,000-square foot mural of a black women wearing multi-colored scarves and a Detroit-earring on the Chroma office building on Grand Boulevard by Sydney G. James

"The topic is social: 'Get Together." This piece is about ... (how) we're all observers, we're always constantly observed and when we do observe, it's in a mirrored lens," James said. "We take with us our personal experiences wherever we go and that's how we see people."

Her acrylic painting shows the back of a Black woman looking into a mirror and her shirt reads "observed," backward.

An acrylic painting on display at Reyes Finn gallery called "Implicit Bias Training?" by Sydney G. James

Another Detroit native, Bree Gant, contributed a body print called "Ore" that was inspired by a conversation she had with Finn.

"I met Bridget (Finn) through a studio visit ... in 2021 and we talked a lot about body prints," said Gant, 34. "I appreciated that inspiration ... and wanted to share some new work."

She's been working as a full-time artist since 2017 and also does photography, video and collaborative performances.

"Now, I'm shifting into print making as further exploration of performance work and ritual," Gant said.

Fishman of Hamtramck worked as the head of the painting department at Cranbrook Academy of Arts for over 25 years and now is a full-time artist showing creations in places including Germany, London and Paris.

Her creations are often neon-themed and representative of pharmaceutical drugs.

"I was so happy to be included in the group of artists," said Fishman, 67. She juggled many jobs before finding the flexibility to work from her own studio everyday.

The top piece is by James Benjamin named, 'In,' and the bottom is by Beverly Fishman named, 'Untitled (Osteoporosis, Migraine),' Wednesday afternoon, March 8, 2023.

"I think artists stay in Detroit ... (because) one can figure out how to live and work in Detroit, whereas other cities, it's more difficult," she said. "If you can figure out how to keep a roof over your head and do your work ... it's a crazy balancing act."

On top of balancing work and artistry, Eleanor Oakes, 38, has taken on motherhood, which she chose to emphasize in her creation at the gallery.

Oakes' piece is a portrait of herself breastfeeding her son using salt, from her breast milk, and silver to make the paper light-sensitive.

A salted paper print made with breastmilk by Eleanor Oakes named, 'Self Portrait (1),' Wednesday afternoon, March 8, 2023.

"It's part of a body of work that I've done recently exploring new motherhood and trying to also reclaim my creative energy as a mom now," said Oakes, who has lived in Detroit for the past decade.

"I made a whole series of works in that process, using my breast milk, last year and the self portrait came out of that, and I'm now transitioning into doing breastfeeding portraits for other moms using their breast milk," Oakes said.

It is a newer concept and "not a common way to make a print," she said.

"I wanted to include that print because it's new and it really speaks to my experience in the last two years, but then I also wanted to use it to highlight the work I'm doing with other women ... and depict a contemporary portrait of motherhood particularly in our area of southeast Michigan."