Art crawl dazzles on canvas, video
Michael H. Hodges / Detroit News Arts Writer
Taking part in next week’s Art Detroit Now, the metro-wide gallery tour? Two knockout shows, one at the Oakland University Art Gallery and the other at Detroit Artists Market, deserve a visit.
With “10 Years of Contemporary Art,” at Oakland University through Oct. 17, director Dick Goode has pulled together a dazzling group show with 20 artists, many from Michigan. Goode has a way of attracting talent — in this case, Jae Won Lee, Peter Williams, Chido Johnson, Rob Kangas and Eric Mesko, to name but a few. Artists were asked to pair an old work with something from the past year. Los Angeles artist Christian Tedeschi, who used to teach at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, gives us two hard-to-resist absurdist videos. For “Manifest Destiny,” the artist attached a video camera to a car’s hub cap, which yields a dizzying, helter-skelter view of a southern California town marvelously drenched in the imperfect shades of 1960s color TV. By contrast, “White Flight” stars a dozen loose, uncooked eggs that made the trip from Detroit to Pontiac in the flatbed of Tedeschi’s pickup. Rolling in and out of the frame like drunks, they teeter and stop, roll backward, and on occasion crack wide open. It’s hard not to laugh, but there’s also a deeply satisfying abstract quality to this piece.
Well worth a look as well is Robert Schefman’s striking “Allegory(above) (Supporting My Compulsive Behavior),” in which three heroic, robed figures lift a woman wrapped in a sheet and bound by ropes. The characters radiate the lush physicality we associate with the 16th-century painter Caravaggio, and the set-up evokes one of Renaissance art’s favorite images, Christ being lowered off the cross — never mind that the bound woman here appears to be smiling.
Perhaps the most arresting piece in this arresting show, however, is Susan Goethel Campbell’s “Detroit Weather: Prelude,” paired with her surprisingly rich charcoal drawing, “Incinerator at Night.” For “Detroit Weather,” she mounted a webcam in a window on the 22nd floor of the Fisher Building that shoots a still picture once a minute. Edited together at 30 frames per second, the result is a galloping ride through one month that bears some resemblance to the lyrical 1982 art film, “Koyanisqaatsi,” which also relied on timelapsed weather systems for its drama. Day and night cycle several times a minute above the landscape south of the New Center. Clouds zip by and the urban light grid blasts on and off. Contrails from dozens of smokestacks great and small bend to soundless winds. Goode calls both Goethal and Schefman, a sculptor who taught himself to paint, examples of the “hybridity” overtaking the art world. Of the former, he says, marveling a little, “Susan started as a printmaker,” he says. “Now she can do anything.”