“Scenes” that make us pay attention

Arts / Article

With the show “Scenes From Something Overlooked” at Center Galleries, part of the College for Creative Studies, featured artists Andrew Krieger, Michael McGillis and Clinton Snider revel secrets moments found in life, nature and the city of Detroit. The three artists, though exploring different mediums, have an overall aesthetic that references the sometimes-gritty realities of an urban existence. When asked about the motivation behind the show, Center Galleries Director Michelle Perron stated, “I have always been interested in and followed the work of Krieger, McGillis and Snider, so when they came to me to talk about a collaborative exhibition, I jumped on it. In their triangulated dialogue, I see many commonalities: all play with the drama of imagined scenarios and overlooked details. In their work, all three do a sort of mapping of traces of human activity, and their work is all a form of intervention: in place, memory, perception, personal experience.”

I could literally spend all day and/or evening explaining my favorite parts of this show. Every single piece of this show feels like it belongs to the others. The mediums may be different, as is some of the subject matter, but they all share the same feeling. Looking at the work feels like you are learning a secret or stumbling upon a discovery. As I look at “Liquor Store Sign” by Snider, I can clearly envision how they would appear attached to a store and the awe I would feel as I noticed the paintings that cover them. In one corner of the gallery sit a pair of miniature billboards that Snider snuck into the show. They have made me fall in love with their tiny technical pieces, as well as the fact that they are covered by birch bark.

Moving beyond aesthetics, this trio of artists is a tour de force. I have always admired Snider’s previous work, in particular “Relics,” where he re-contextualized abandoned objects, thus “adding narrative content to (their) visual form.” For this exhibition, he uses painting with vibrant colors and interesting vantage points that expose lush foliage to make scenes of post-industrial decay almost appear utopian. Krieger’s works play with depth perception to highlight seemingly ordinary moments of life. He adds sculptural elements that force his characters to protrude out of the traditional frame, creating the illusion of an intimate, yet incredibly real, space and moment that carries an air of voyeurism. Lastly, to complement and neatly tie the show together, are McGillis’ explorations of nature. From the breathtaking “Husk,” that occupies the entirety of the large gallery, to the tiny billboards mentioned before, he uses nature to reference the urban condition differently than anyone I have seen before. With one of the pieces in the show, “Signs from Above,” he takes a natural object, in this manifestation a tree branch, and creates an intricate and networked pattern that is reminiscent of the roads belonging to a city.

This incredible and thoughtful exhibition runs until Oct. 8. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.to 5 p.m.

Center Galleries is located on the campus of the Collage for Creative Studies, 201 East Kirby, Detroit, Mich. 48202