This special exhibition features selected work from the art collection of Meg LaRou, owner of Revolution Gallery, Detroit (1993-2005). See the collection, here. On view by appointment from Saturday, June 20 through Saturday, September 4, the range of work in Reflections gives evidence to LaRou’s adventuresome eye that was nurtured as an artist and gallery owner.
LaRou’s interest in collecting art began during her studies at the College for Creative Studies, Detroit, where she earned her BFA in 1993. September of that very year her life would change dramatically when she would join a legion of women who owned galleries in metro Detroit. Revolution: A Gallery Project opened its doors on Woodward Ave in Ferndale, MI, with great anticipation. Together with founding director Paul Kotula, assistant director Sandra Schemske, and assistant manager Joanne Park-Foley, the gallery would become noted locally, regionally, and nationally for its non-hierarchical, cross-disciplinary program that included an artist billboard. Revolution brought the work of many artists, from emerging to internationally recognized, to the Detroit community during those years and LaRou avidly collected much of it.
Among the work featured are two paintings by Brenda Goodman. Catskill Summer, awash with vibrant colors, is a celebration of the place the artist escaped to in summers when she lived and worked on Bowery Street in NYC. Clusters of block-like and oval forms fill the three panels through varied means of application: from thin, translucent passages to areas of impasto as think as a half each. In contrast, her haunting Self Portrait 10 is covered in thickly painted variations of a bluish-white paint with touches of black to highlight certain areas of her body and to starkly emphasize a shadow. In this commanding work Goodman confronts her physical weight; a massive torso connects elongated arms and hands, one that seems to feed the small head that rises out of it.
Ann Mikolowski brings rigorous handling to her Photorealist miniature painting of Kofi Natambu. Mikolowski was known to create brushes with only a few bristles so that she could articulate the details of her pocket-sized portraits. Kofi Natambu, a writer and critic whom LaRou studied under at Wayne State University, Detroit, appears lit by the flash of a camera, but also by a succession of lights that lay beyond him. It is thought the space is the auditorium at the Detroit Institutes of Arts. He gave a reading there as part of the Lines series curated by George Tysh.
There are other portraits in the collection including one of Polly Joseph by Debbie Fleming Caffery. Both women lived in Southern Louisiana. Over a series of years Fleming Caffery would photograph Polly, and her belongings and shack, as they became friends. The interior of Polly’s home was soot covered encouraging the artist to reveal her images in almost complete darkness. There are also works that continue to reinvent realism.
Conrad Bakker’s carved and painted objects and Jeff Gauntt’s painting of a lawn sprinkler engage consumerism and nostalgia with humor, while Kirk Mangus’s Snake Bowl (and insects) continue themes of nature that reoccur throughout LaRou’s collection. An untitled work by Marek Cecula whose still life of industrial porcelain and stainless steel from Scatology confronts our fetishism for cleanliness. There are also poetic works of abstraction including a large vase by John Gill, digital drawings by Marsha Cottrell, and a felt, pod-like form of undulating volumes by Joan Livingstone that addresses the body through metaphor.
All works in the exhibition are for sale. While some works will be available online and/or viewable elsewhere, the main exhibition will be held in a series of second floor rooms that once belonged to Revolution and are now home to Paul Kotula Projects. During Revolution's era these spaces housed exhibitions for such (then) emerging artists as Joseph Grigely, Auturo Herrera, and Rebecca Quaytman (now R.H. Quaytman).
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