current exhibition

Review Archive

'Surface' Goes Beyond that with Depths to Engage the Audience. Dialogue Sought Between Viewer, Art

By John Carlos Cantu

Ann Arbor News Special Writer, Sunday, March 23, 2008


One of the most challenging metaphysical concepts is the notion of a world behind the world we perceive. In the world of art, that can mean the underlying idea behind a work's initial appearance.


"Surface'' at the Gallery Project in Ann Arbor (which prides itself in relentlessly pushing the aesthetic envelope) is an exceedingly clever play off these thoughts. As the exhibit's gallery statement says, the display features local, regional, and national artists "who employ the decorative as a means to engage the audience.''

According to the gallery, "The decorative implies a personally derived, organized system of surface embellishments. ... The resultant 'surface' of the presented artwork (whether two or three-dimensional) fuels the corresponding dialogue between the viewer and the work.''

Ann Arbor artists contributing to the show include Jennifer Locke, Tomoko Ogawa and Matthew Shlian. The exhibit's curator is Flint Mott Community College art instructor Cristen Velliky.


Of the 36 artworks on display, Mott CC instructor Cathy Smith's nearly 250 lacquered and fused "Unmade Cans,'' stacked in eleven slightly irregular rolls, stands out as a nontraditional sculpture. Patrick Burton, of Ferndale, has contributed three oversized wall-mounted acrylic, papier-mâché, and sterling silver beaded mixed media whose appearance falls somewhere between giant Valentine's Day cards and 19th century beaux art design. His "For a Time the Story Must Go Back Somewhat and Tell All That Had Chanced the First Time We Met'' is a sweetheart of a decorative encrusted painting.


Bowling Green University art instructor Joe Johnson has contributed a slightly differing oversized floral composition with his "Lobby, Fort Wayne, IN'' enlarged color photograph whose only marring feature is an electrical outlet that breaks the decorative pattern. Matt Shlian (whose "Geometrically Inclined'' exhibit is still on display on Liberty Street at the Ann Arbor Art Center) adds his equally complex acrylic "Murq'' drawing, whose curvilinear playfulness is visually complex and dazzling


"Surface'' will continue through March 30 at Gallery Project, 215 S. Fourth Ave. Exhibit hours are noon-6 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; noon to 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 734-997-7012.