“ECHOES”: Three Artists Resonate @ Galerie Camille

“ECHOES” at Galerie Camille is a three-person show featuring the work of Robert Mirek, John McLaughlin, and Paula Schubatis . The show demonstrates points of resonance that carom throughout the individual bodies of work, as well as creating a kind of visual conversation between the three artists, who would seem to have little in common, at first glance.

Mirek and McLaughlin are both established artists with long histories in the Detroit Metro scene. Schubatis is an emerging artist and recent graduate from University of Michigan Stamps School of Art and Design, and has been tearing up the Detroit scene lately, with a turn as a Red Bull House of Art resident, and a number of group and solo shows in the area.


Installation Image, Robert Mirek, Mitosis – All Images Courtesy of Sarah Rose Sharp

Upon entering Gallerie Camille, the viewer is greeted by “Mitosis”—a large-scale wall-hanging sculpture by Mirek, composed of hundreds upon hundreds of tiny wood scraps. These are the remainders from his labor-intensive series of graphic shape sets, which he designs by computer and then cuts from plywood; two series face off against each other on the walls leading into “Mitosis”: the Strand series on the right, and the newer Thread series on the left. Mirek’s works have a feeling of alien archeology, and the interspersing of his work with that of Schubatis is nearly seamless. The two artists inadvertently echo each others’ palettes, and her abstract and lovely wall-hangings and humorous rock-based sculptures look right at home alongside his meticulous vocabulary of symbols and oil paintings that veritably leap off the page in their desire to achieve the greater dimensionality accomplished by his sculptural forms. “Mitosis,” with its many constituent parts, is the perfect centerpiece for the show, which features work that seeks to impose order upon a chaos of objects, symbols, and materials.


John McLaughlin, Ground Floor (diptych) Painting / Collage

This is evident in McLaughlin’s work, which sits mostly apart from the others, in the deep-set black box gallery. Collage typically implies the layering of images—by contrast, McLaughlin’s mixed media drawings on paper are a colorful motif of stand-alone squiggles, each cut from media materials, which occasionally abut each other, but do not overlap. The effect is something like pouring a colorful jigsaw puzzle out onto a white table; there is a sense of some potential connection or relationship between these shapes, but it is not figurative and not explicit. The whitespace becomes equally as important as the particulates, and the eye caroms around the visual static, looking for imagery—a kind of highly mediated form of cloud-watching. Though his work stands physically and materially apart from Mirek and Schubatis, McLaughlin’s works collectively reinforce the effect created by ECHOES, with swarms of shapes hanging together that effectively echo Mirek’s symbol-clusters in the main gallery.


Schubatis, Wall Hanging, flanked by Mirek’s Paintings

Schubatis has drawn her components into an even tighter matrix—that of the woven body. Her weavings have been, at times, highly experimental in her incorporation of odd materials, such as caution tape and other plastic waste, but even in these more conventional wall-hangings, her impeccable sense of balance and bold color choices make for dynamic and achingly lovely compositions. In the center gallery, which is almost entirely work by Schubatis, these are interspersed with sculptural oddities—improvisations on rock forms, embellished with melted candlewax, paint, and bedazzling gemstones. The combination of bold materials, mineral shapes, and paradoxically minimalist finish create a kind of paleo-futuristic effect; these works would be fitting interior decorations for the Starship Enterprise.


Robert Mirek, Stand Series, detail view

Or perhaps, again, that influence is seeping through from Mirek’s work, which inescapably suggests alien art: mysterious shapes that beg for translation. The Strand series finishes his plywood forms in an exterior of gray pumice punctuated by sharp chartreuse pebbles of window glass. There is an undersea feel to these, like the superstructure of a reef, the rough irregularity of which has given rise to vibrant life. The Thread series reveals more of the underlying woodwork, and give the sense of architectural models for fabulously modern space-buildings and complexes, with the threads tracing out colorful infrastructure—water lines, green spaces, or transit systems (hovercrafts, one imagines). In the small transitional space between main gallery and the back room dominated by Schubatis, her work and Mirek’s mix almost indiscriminately. Here, a wall hanging is flanked by two of Mirek’s standalone wall sculptures, which tonally mimic each other so perfectly that the truth of that happy accident seems stranger than fiction. There, another woven piece by Schubatis provides a calm striation of undulant yellow-on-gold-on-brown forms, which make a harmonious landscape for several pieces from Mirek’s Scorch, series, which seem almost carved out of bone, with the darker backdrop material revealed, upon closer inspection, to be hundreds of tiny drawn and glued elements—replicating just like cells, alluded to in the title of Mirek’s sprawling centerpiece.

Altogether, much to be considered and enjoyed within ECHOES, proving that sometimes the best part of work is the visual echoes that emerge when visions bounce off each other.

Patrick Hill @ Susanne Hilberry Gallery

Mocking up Where Nature and Structure Meet

Installation Shot Patrick Hill Drawings and Maquettes

Patrick Hill Drawings and Maquettes, Installation Image – Courtesy of Susanne Hilberry Gallery. All other images courtesy of Clara DeGalan

Patrick Hill’s maquettes, on display at Susanne Hilberry Gallery along with a large number of 2D works in a solo exhibition titled, appropriately, “Drawings and Maquettes 2014-2016,” are constructed in such a way that you can feel their potential to tower benevolently above you. You seem to be looking across the galleries from atop a high mountain at a curious experiment in integrated living down below. Hill’s 2D works evoke a similar experience of upended scale. Viewing images of them, it’s difficult to discern which are human-scaled and which small and intimate, inviting the viewer to huddle in close. Patrick Hill’s visual language is as rock-solid as the formal principles of sculpture, on which he bases both his 2D and 3D works. His solo exhibition transforms Susanne Hilberry’s galleries into a vast, charming landscape that evokes the West Coast, and Los Angeles in particular, in a tickling synesthesia of palette, forms, structures, visual and cultural references, and scale.

Image 1 Outdoor Studies 1 through 3 2012 2 Way Mirror Carrera Marble Dye Ink

Patrick Hill, Outdoor Studies 1 through 3 2012 2 Way Mirror Carrera Marble Dye Ink

Hill balances the solid, earthbound heft of his sculptural forms with light materials, colors, and narratives. His titles play with words and ideas, swinging between references to mysticism, nature, and pop culture (three exemplary titles are Threshold [New Thought II], Outdoor Study, and Kelly Bundy). A pair of ink and tea wash studies on paper are subtitled Moons and Boobs- channeling spiritual and formal rhymes between words in a way that keeps the conversation around this interesting work funny and light.

Image 2 Kelly Bundy 4 2011 Paper Dye and Ink 60 and three eights by fifty inches

Patrick Hill, Kelly Bundy 4 2011 Paper Dye and Ink 60 X 50

True to the three dimensional formal principles they borrow, Hill’s multimedia drawings contain layers of real and simulated texture. Their slapdash, playful surfaces are only part of the story- a closer look at works such as Fan Death (Double) reveals the artists fertile engagement with natural forms that collide in beautiful, meditative ways with empirical, human-made structures. The folds that lift the heavy paper off of the wall begin to reference the first steps of an origami structure, which is overlaid with a Frank Stella-esque drawn architectural/fan form, over which Hill has collaged blackberries. The above-mentioned synesthesia that makes Hill’s work more and more intriguing is in full force here. It’s present, too, in Palm (black and pink) which makes a spray paint stencil of an actual palm frond, evoking the surface quality of rapidly executed street art and, with the leaf’s delicate, vibrating edges, the iconic West Coast sound of wind moving through palm trees.

Fan Death (Double) 2013 Paper Blackberries Dye Grahite 12 by 9 inches

Patrick Hill, Fan Death (Double) 2013 Paper Blackberries Dye Graphite 12 X 9″












Hill is constantly flipping heavy and light throughout the works in “Drawings and Maquettes.” This visual/conceptual romp is especially enjoyable in his sculptures, which point toward human scale while seldom exceeding a foot or two in height.

 Large Geosurgery 2013 Cardboard Dye Ink Tape Glue 52 and a half by 35 X 33"

Patrick Hill, Large Geosurgery, 2013 Cardboard Dye Ink Tape Glue 52 X 35 X 33″
















In this respect, they’re successful as maquettes- and it matters that it’s the maquettes that are being shown, in all their rough-edged, paint-spattered humility. Despite their sculptural construction and prep-drawing feel, the maquettes capture the spirit of Hill’s work better than the hinted- at final pieces ever could. They are heavy and light, silly and serious, funny and touching, all at once. It’s a fine balance, and one Hill manages with a deceptively care-free abandon.

“Patrick Hill- Drawings and Maquettes” is on display at Susanne Hilberry Gallery through June 4, 2016.





Allie McGhee @ N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art

Installation image AM NNamdi

Installation image – Allie McGhee, All Images Courtesy of the Detroit Art Review

The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art opened a large exhibition of work, Now & Then,  by the veteran artist Allie McGhee on April 15, 2016. A Detroiter who attended Cass Technical High School and completed his undergraduate work at Eastern Michigan University in 1965, McGhee was born in Charleston, West Virginia. “As an artist I have always been inspired by the diverse rhythms of our environment,” McGhee says. “It has been a great reserve of energy for my work. In my recent works instead of seeing the natural world as a rational observer, I see if from within as if through a telescope or microscope.”

AM Simiar Rhythm MM on paper 2016

Allie McGhee – Similar Rhythm- Mixed Media on paper 2016

For the most part of this exhibition, these works hang on the wall as three-dimensional reliefs, made of paper and mixed media. These delicate creatures of raw substance seem as though they may start out as flat painted material and then folded to form a cumulative formal beauty underscored by a diverse paint surface. McGhee’s emphasis on discovered and spontaneous correlations that are twisted, crushed and crumpled, remind this writer of John Chamberlain, who worked in a similar fashion but mostly with metal and automobile parts. Given the time period of Allie McGhee’s formative years, the obvious influence here is Abstract Expressionism with shades of Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline that, despite a seemingly spontaneous appearance, maintains a balance of chaos and control.

Allie McGhee, Rainforest Mixed Media on Paper 2012

Allie McGhee, Rainforest, Mixed Media on Paper 2012

In his biography, McGhee says he favors using sticks to apply paint rather than brushes. Rejecting the brush, he pulls and scrapes the paint across his material, whether it is canvas or paper. The action of the stick allows McGhee’s hands to interact with the paint and the surface in a visceral way, where the thin paint spatters as he arranges his lathe-like constructions. In Rainforest, there are a variety of parallel bars that play against the light and abstract forms caused by the folds. These are forms we see in nature and our urban environment, making them familiar, if not inviting. He reveals his ability to make something interesting out of the mundane.

Allie McGhee, Visit, Mixed Media on Fiberglass 2015

Allie McGhee, Visit, Mixed Media on Fiberglass 2015

Not all of the work is on paper. Visit is a piece on folded canvas that has been coated in fiberglass and painted with loose strokes of paint. McGhee has said his work is informed by science, and refers to imagery that is close up, like through a lens, but it’s easy to see a shallow grid and re-jostled composition that works against formality. These works are a change from the flat abstractions of ten years ago with ovals and space-like compositions. The new works are flat ideas that have taken on the third dimension of physical depth and engage the viewer with draped compositions of muted color and a play on light.



Allie McGhee, Sacred Wrap, Mixed Media, on paper 2009

Allie McGhee, Sacred Wrap, Mixed Media, on paper 2009

















Like a worship robe that hangs waiting to be used, Sacred Wrap, could be a garment waiting to be worn for a special ceremony. The subtleties in white, blue and black are mixed media material on paper that come off the wall enough to cast deep and dramatic shadows. Whether inspired by science or the music of Eric Dolphy, Allie McGhee brings a nostalgic feel to these texturally rich reliefs that feel both powerful and lightly sensitive.

Carole Harris, Fiber Construction

Carole Harris, Melody Lingers, Fiber Construction















The N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art opened a parallel exhibition by Carole Harris, a fiber artist who uses traditional quilting techniques to make abstract expressionistic compositions. “My work relies on improvisation,” Harris says. “I am fascinated by the rhythms and energy created when I cut and piece multiple patterns. I let the fabric and color lead me on the journey.”

For visual artists who quilt, Harris’s work transcends the traditional expectations we think of when mentioning quilting. In a reproduction, we see an abstract painting, dynamic in the use of color, line, shape and form. It’s only on closer observation that one realizes these are compositions executed using embroidery, stitchery and multiple patterns of cotton, silks and hand-dyed fabric.

N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art     Allie McGhee   Now & Then   April 15 – June 25, 2016



Matthew Bandsuch @ Popps Packing

“THE WAY IS NOT THE WAY” – Meandering through process with Matthew Bandsuch 


Matthew Bandsuch during his artist talk, alongside Pile, the largest work in the show, which took him months to execute

Artist Matthew Bandsuch has a successful career as an illustrator, providing satirical and figurative visual components to national publications including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The LA Times, and local ones such as Hour Detroit Magazine. The Detroit native and CCS graduate relocated to Chicago in 2001, and in addition to his illustration work, has nurtured a painting practice that has yielded inclusion in shows around Detroit and Chicago. “THE WAY NOT THE WAY” is a solo show of recent work exhibited at Popps Packing from March 26 through April 16, and demonstrated Bandsuch’s range as an artist and obsession with process.


Matthew Brandsuch, It is so. (left) and Brunt, oils on linen

The large-scale painted drawings (Bandsuch prefers to consider them “drawings” although they are made with paint on canvas) are filled with layer atop layer of visual noise, and would be arresting on their own, but are especially surprising in contrast to Bandsuch’s very legible work as an illustrator. When you consider that the definition of illustration is to illuminate or clarify a subject through visual example, Bandsuch’s paintings reveal a shadow side to his strengths as an illustrator—that of an abstractionist. During an artist talk for the show’s closing on April 16th, Bandsuch outlined the process that inspired the body of work on display, beginning with a single sculptural work—a smooth-planed and geometric “model of a rock” made from anthrachite coal, that he replicated in folding-paper form. Looking at the cut marks left behind in the process of creating the paper cutout, Bandsuch found the shapes that became the basis of abstract quasi-naturescapes that are the foundational imagery of the paintings on display. This source image allowed for Minimalist and reductive elements, as well as subject matter as close to meaninglessness as possible—a concept that again demonstrates an alter-ego alive within an illustrator soul. Bandsuch is not concerned with conveying meaning through these works, nor is he interested in the surface texture or color theory of painting (all of his colors were straight from the tube, or perhaps slightly mediated with white)—“THE WAY NOT THE WAY” is a deep meditation on process, resulting in imagery that illustrates a genealogy of mark and line, where each subsequent iteration between media or added layer inherits something from its predecessor, both replicating and altering it.


Matthew Brandsuch, Overcast, Ink, acrylic, oil on linen

In this way, each painting is like a network of memory  —wherein the original experience is altered each time it is recalled, adding or deleting pieces and reunifying them into the perceived memory. Several of Bandsuch’s pencil-on-paper drawings—“unintentional landscapes,” as he calls them—are on display, alongside the largest work in the show, a staggering wall-sized canvas in graphic black and white, with bold splashes of yellow. These and other drawings are translated to digital images, and sometimes painstakingly layered in Photoshop, before being projected directly onto canvas for transcription to the finished pieces. “As I’m going through, things are working or things are not working,” said Bandsuch, during his talk, pointing out the inevitable emergence of quasi-figurative elements; here a snippet of what looks like traditional Japanese wave painting, here a cartoony little face, here a cloud. As Bandsuch creates the paintings, he makes decisions to play up the chance elements, resulting in finished canvases that cannot be directly traced back to any single image, but represent the full inheritance and mutation of their genealogy. In the same way it might be considered that our bodies are really just vessels for genetic strains that connect us to the whole of human history, Bandsuch’s canvases might be considered vehicles for ideas that are riding through various physical manifestations throughout the whole of art history.


Matthew Brandsuch, Undergrowth, Oil on linen

The intensive work of meticulously shepherding these forms speaks to Bandsuch’s dedication and his obsession with the underlying processes of making. His artist talk makes it evident that this is a labor of love, which takes on new depth and literally increasing dimension at every turn. To borrow a phrase, it might be said of “THE WAY NOT THE WAY” that it is a true demonstration of journey as destination.

Kimia F. Kline @ the Elaine L. Jacobs Gallery

“As Above, So Below” –  Kimia Ferdowsi Kline and the wise conduct of life

Installation shot

Installation Image, Courtesy of the Detroit Art Review

The culmination of Kimia Ferdowsi Kline’s residency at Wayne State University, funded through the Basil Alkazzi Detroit Residency and the New York Foundation for the Arts, is a jewel-like array of visual storytelling that is currently on display at Elaine L. Jacob Gallery at Wayne State University. The impressive body of work revolves around a famous book of fables, Kalila and Dimna, in which a succession of interrelated stories featuring animal protagonists unfold, like Russian dolls, one emerging from the next. This foundational group of stories, originating in India and evolving through Persia, became the inspiration for the fables of Aesop and the Brothers Grimm, among others. Kline’s appreciation for the ancestry of a work of art is apparent, not only in her choice of subject matter, but in the conscious homage she pays to such painters as Henri Matisse, David Hockney, and Richard Diebenkorn in her lush, engaging work.

Image1Sunland 2015 Diptych of two panels

Kimia F. Kline, Sunland 2015 Diptych of two panels – All Images Courtesy of Clara DeGalan

The fables become a narrative clothesline on which Kline strings visual flights of fancy rendered in a vibrant California palette (Kline earned her MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute and speaks eloquently of her love for the California painters and their granddaddy, Matisse.) The paintings themselves strike an exuberant balance between Modern Western painting (Matisse’s abstract, sublimely lit grids, Diebenkorn’s broad fields of pulsating color that congeal into horizon-less landscapes) and the illustrative tradition of illuminated Persian miniature paintings (the collapsed, vertical placement of figures and movement that propel a story from one frame of action to the next, and that influenced artists of Matisse’s generation to free themselves from the shackles of Western linear perspective). Kline is just coming into the full flower of her abilities, and slings the paint with a joyful abandon that projects a moment to moment experience of absorbing, and distilling, her subject and her influences. Her smaller paintings are bombs of formal beauty and technical virtuosity- the off-hand yet incredibly nuanced treatment of the female figure in “Woman Bathing Two Jackals” kept beckoning from the corner of my eye as I perused her larger pieces, drawing me back again and again to wonder at the light-hearted, yet incredibly serious montage of symbols dancing around the picture plane.

Image 2 Woman Bathing Two Jackals 2015 Oil on Panel

Kimia F. Kline, Woman Bathing Two Jackals, 2015 – Oil on Panel

“Pomegranate Warrior” gave me the same experience, with a cinematic twist, following the rider out of the picture plane and into unknown regions. Kline’s best work in “As Above, So Below” does exactly that- engages the eye with the unbridled joy of her palette and dynamic composition, then subtly embeds itself in the subconscious for later unpacking.

Image 3 Pomogranate Warrior 2016 Oil on Panel

Kimia F. Kline, Pomogranate Warrior, 2016, Oil on Panel

The title of Kline’s show, “As Above, So Below,” derives from Hermetic teachings about the nature of the universe. According to this philosophy, the individual is a microcosm of the universe, and the raw material of everyday existence bears within it the traces of the divine matter from whence it came. This divinity is parsed as it makes its descent through the ages, picking up influences from history and experience. Kline’s work is a perfect visual distillation of that idea- she continually weaves fresh content from the materials and narratives of her ancestors, cultural and artistic. Her work is a refreshing reminder of all that we still have to sift through and re-arrange from the wisdom of those who came before us- and the myriad paths such a practice can help us to experience.

Image 4 As Above So Below 2016 Oil on Canvas

Kimia F. Kline, As Above So Below, 2016 – Oil on Canvas

“As Above, So Below” is on view at Elaine L. Jacob Gallery at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, through June 24, 2016