Sunlight lingered in the afternoon while icy winds blasted against my dusty knuckles en route to “Watercolor: Collective Visions” at the Ellen Kayrod Gallery. On the southern wall was a grand piece by James Nawara whose rocky entrance with trees reiterated his speculation of the effects human systems have on nature’s landscape. His work also fused distinct opposites with comparable elegance to Jay Knapp whose abstract strokes underscored the dichotomy of safety and atrocity and its impact on emotional conditions.
Both artists presented the peculiar interconnectedness and exclusivity of dependent and independent forces, which supported the theme of Passing Tribute by Linda Mendelson—artist, educator and curator for the Kayrod’s intergenerational show. Her watercolor conception revealed keen observations about ceremonial occasions with spirited appreciation of life’s trials and tribulations.
After meandering from piece to piece, it was still a bit early for the N’Namdi Gallery to open its doors for the openings of “Vicissitude” by Elizabeth Youngblood and “ELEMENTAL” by Neha Vedpathak. However, something told me to test my luck and check if the door was open to escape the freezing cold if only for a moment. I entered and two gracious staff members allowed me to observe the work on display as they completed final tasks prior to guests’ arrival.
In The Rose Gallery, Youngblood’s ceramic/wire sculptures emphasized cyclical patterns in which universal forces operate and mimicked the movement of her writing utensils on paper. By majestically incorporating her love of graphic arts, clay, design and fibers, the CCS Graphic Arts professor stimulated an inimitable dialogue on craft and art.
Within The Black Box Gallery, Vedpathak executed her stylistic fascination with the environment and its ingredients with “plucked” paper and miniature landscapes consisting of soil, water and turmeric. Whether space was occupied by her distinctive and delicate manipulation of paper or covered by unique representations of land, Vedpathak charmingly highlighted complex interactions between space and objects with minimal aesthetics.
The space between my untimely entrance to N’Namdi and Socra Tea was not at all far but the frigid air influenced a detour to a stiff beverage at Seva. What intended to be an exploration of introversion quickly evolved into a conversation with one of the restaurant’s managers who also created out of a studio in Corktown. He shared enthusiasm for the entertainment and challenges of building an identity in Detroit and respect for the process of navigating through a vast city. More patrons flooded the dining area so I peeled myself from the bar and hurried to Socra Tea.
A tall bearded man with a kind face and a female with curly hair and lively demeanor constituted the small number of bodies in attendance while a quiet sales associate manned the register. Once I began my tour of the stationary and framed photography by Jason Wermager, I quickly learned the bewhiskered gentleman was in fact the artist. His work possessed a commercial blending of rural life, words and graphic arts. His editing gave some viewers the impression he had painted a cow and illustrated the scene of an isolated barn swathed in beams of sunlight. Even an image of an old Cadillac underwent an intense editing process to be rid of bothersome reflections but ultimately established Wermager’s eye for precision.
The visual feast continued at the Detroit Artists Market where members intended to vend original items at Art for the Holidays. Sanda Cook had three identifiable framed pieces among the surplus of talent hanging and standing prominently in the market. It was here I complimented Linda Mendelson on her curatorial execution and painting of ceremonious yet personal experiences of transition. She accepted but immediately shed light on the magnitude of measurement restrictions while coordinating artwork in a gallery. When she segued to how she found talent, she conveyed the power of crossing paths, which was as magical as finding Jack Kenny and Charlene Uresy radiating the same warm energy of the holiday merriment in the market just as I was leaving.