current exhibition

Review Archive

Painting 2008 at Gallery Project

by John Carlos Cantu

Ann Arbor News Special Writer, June 08, 2008


Just as Eastern Michigan University's "New Fibers 2008" (on display until Thursday at EMU's Student Center Gallery) shows us the dimensions of recent fiber art, Ann Arbor's equally audacious Gallery Project "Painting 2008" richly illustrates painting's current pluralism.


As curator and Wayne State University art professor Adrian Hatfield says of the display: "Contemporary painters are unabashed about borrowing, using, and referencing work and materials, whether it involves copying elements from a classical painting or integrating found objects. Contemporary painting is becoming more integrated with other arts such as drawing, photography, installation and video. Where it will end up is anyone's guess."


Well, there's no guessing about "Painting 2008."  It's easily one of the few exhibits this year anyone interested in contemporary art should catch, because it gives us a well-rounded view of what's taking place in post-modernism at this time.


There are three locals in the exhibit - Gallery Project coordinator Rocco DePietro of Ann Arbor, University of Michigan alum Sarah Buckius and EMU art professor Chris Hyndman. There's also a healthy representation from Detroit, with other artists from around the country.


There's a bit of everything in "Painting 2008" - including, amazingly enough, even a few objects that resemble paintings. But the emphasis here is to question the meaning of the term.


Among the more interesting nontraditional works on display is Buckius' marvelous digital performance painting "Trapped inside Pixels: Two Moving Digital Paintings," which include a model dancing, writhing and exercising. 


Detroiter David Parker's hundred-plus green, yellow, and orange painted Styrofoam "Cups" are arranged in a dozen rows on the gallery floor. And fellow Detroiters' Justin Marshall and Brandon Belknap's expansive, untitled multimedia basement installation is quite nearly an artistic manifesto by itself.


Among the more orthodox paintings here, DePietro's "Opposition to the Square" takes aim at geometric abstraction with its vibrantly expressive handwork. Chicago's Nicole Gordon sprawls her art over both the gallery wall and floor with her installation painting, "The Overlook." And Detroit's Kristin Beaver wryly imagines a close encounter with the King in her show-stopping oil painting on canvas, "Me and E."


"Painting 2008" will continue through June 22 at Gallery Project, 215 S. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor. Exhibit hours are noon-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; and noon-4 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 734-997-7012.