The Project’s Full Scope

The Detroit Project:

A harmonious and dissonant Quartet

The first part of my Detroit Project is about depictions of neglect. The large oil paintings are structured very formally. The small paintings are often reinterpretations.  I work from photographs I have taken, as well as studies.

Part Two uses memory and sensation as the sources for imagery.  It is more violent, using a kind of dream space.  The nature of Part Two is dismantled and deconstructed in itself.  Some of it will be structured as theatrical backdrops, hung in groups of five on very specific supports.  I started thinking about this in 2001, but am just beginning the work now.

None of these paintings will hang directly on a wall.

Part Three uses floor plans of domestic dwellings, maps of neighborhoods, and aerial views, There are drawings, watercolors, and paintings. The whole pointing attitude is exploratory and loose.

Part Four has more to do with actual and remembered as well as longed for three-dimensional objects.  Paint will get used for backdrops and floor pieces. The objects will be cast as well as constructed.  So far it exists in notebooks.

Detroit Project Exhibition at SASIKI, An Architecture Firm

These paintings stand on their own. All you need to know is that the falling apart buildings exist or did exist in Detroit Michigan. That I grew up in a working class neighborhood that was thriving when I was a child. And that Dee-troit City attracts national attention not because it is in ruins, but because of what it was.……(The Automobile industry was born there. A great culture of progress was invented there. Detroit Michigan was the motor capital of the whole world.) Do I need to actual say the above? Doesn’t everyone know what Detroit was?

It was said that what happened in Detroit revealed the future. Reflecting at the very least the industrial strength of the country. Detroit doesn’t have a steel industry now. Iron Ore boats don’t burden the Great Lakes. The seven sisters don’t blaze thirty stories into the night sky. But it has become a magnet of it’s own, a sad one.

The first part of my Detroit Project is about depictions of neglect. As a native I feel I have a particular right to make this city my subject. The politics of the situation are not subtle. (The usual, greed, lack of foresight, and total neglect of the disenfranchised. There was no profit possible in repairing the homes and neighborhoods of a city abandoned by it’s greatest Industry)

I started out painting houses on the block I grew up on. I wanted to make a series of paintings just about Buffalo Street. But the whole city draws me. It wraps me around itself. I keep finding new neighborhoods that shudder with their own dismantling. I wander the city in rented cars.

People who live in the actual city live with destruction that is very ugly all around them. And sometimes it is burnt and stinking as-well . Yet they hang baskets of flowers on the porch, plant gardens, paint garages bright pink, put up tents for the kids in what are now open fields, and carry on. I admire these people.

I take the photographs I work from, My criteria is structural, grid based, and formal. I care about scale. I want the size of the painting and it’s image to meld….I need it to feel inevitable. I like having a political subject. My point of view isn’t critical. It is more about a way to say good-bye very carefully. I am paying a kind of homage and taking time to experience these falling apart buildings that no one will ever take time with again. Except to tear down.