Tag Archives: Ari Marcopoulos

Around Town and@the DIA – ART X Detroit, Rust Belt to Artist Belt and Detroit Revealed exhibition announced at the DIA

Southeast from Roof, Michigan Central, 2009, Scott Hocking © Scott Hocking, 2011

Recent photographs of Detroit will be the subject of an exhibition to open October 16, 2011, in the Albert and Peggy De Salle Gallery of Photography at the DIA. Featuring the work of Detroit-based and international artists, Detroit Revealed: Photographs 2000-2010 examines the challenges and dramatic visual transformation that came to characterize the city in the first decade of a new century and millennium that mark the post-industrial era of Detroit. Related programming is in the works and soon to be announced. In addition to photographs, the exhibition will feature video work by Dawoud Bey and Ari Marcopoulos.

Two artists representing a new generation of photography in Detroit –  Scott Hocking and 2009 Kresge fellow Corine Vermeulen – will contribute their vision of the city to Detroit Revealed. The two artists will also take part in upcoming city-wide ART X Detroit events this week – Corine’s photographs will be on view at MOCAD with other Kresge grantees in the ART X Detroit exhibition opening Wednesday, April 6. And Scott recently opened a solo exhibition at Hamtramck’s Public Pool and will join the panel discussion The Art of the Commons: A Discussion About Contemporary Art in Detroit” at an ART X Detroit related event to take place at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) on Friday, April 8 at 6 p.m.

Other goings on around town will prove to be a full slate of art-related events this week including the first ever local conference devoted to creative communities and urban development and renewal in Detroit and elsewhere. Hosted by my alma mater, the College for Creative Studies, the Rust Belt to Artists Belt conference will feature a line up of local and national influential voices on city development and the role of artists. If you are looking to hear a photographer’s perspective, check out Minneapolis-based artist Wing Young Huie who will contribute to the April 7 panel “Proving Ground Experiments in and with the Public Realm, and their relationship to the post-industrial environment.”

ART X Detroit events from April 6-10 feature city wide performances, discussions and exhibitions featuring appearances by recent Kresge Foundation fellows at museums, colleges and other sites around town.  Artists, writers and performers will be on hand to present their work and discuss their relationship to Detroit as an environment for creativity.

Of particular note, and for those interested in photographs of Detroit, is a Saturday, April 9 panel discussion entitled Chronicling a City in Change. Moderator and Team Detroit mogul Toby Barlow will join forces with local photographers and Detroit’s most respected art critic Vince Carducci (I may be partial to Vince knowing he regularly visits photo exhibitions at the DIA with his CCS students!). One notable young photographer Sean Doer will be on hand as well – if you don’t know Sean, his work graces the pages of a recent publication Lost Detroit.

The DIA will get in on the Art X Detroit action this Saturday, April 9, with a full day of events devoted to the pursuits of Kresge fellows. One of many highlights is a program with nationally acclaimed writer Luis Aguilar on Saturday evening when he presents The Troublemakers: The True, Epic Story of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Depression Detroit, with readings, historic images and original music composed and performed by Jessica Hernandez.

Going on as well this Saturday, in what may well be the big photo event of the spring, is the Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography (DCCP) exhibition Artists Choice: Photographic Works by Michigan Artists which will open in their new digs at the Russell Industrial Center. DCCP Founding Director Kyohei Abe mentioned the current space is temporary until renovations are complete on another space at the Russell. Kyohei will be present as well at the DIA for the upcoming panel discussion Perspectives on Photography – Friday, May 20 at 7 p.m.

In the Company of Artists – Last Chance to See the Exhibition


Jean Michel Basquiat, 1987, by Ari Marcopoulos
Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1987, by Ari Marcopoulos

Sunday, February 15, 2009, is the last day to see In the Company of Artists at the DIA. During the run of this exhibition, I had the good fortune of spending time with some of the photographers who, through their wonderful portraits, helped make this exhibition such a success.  If you’ve been reading this blog in past weeks, you will already know that Ari Marcopoulos was in town for a lecture in January. He was absolutely thrilled to see his entire portfolio of artists’ portraits  in the exhibition. This photograph of Basquait is a particular favorite of mine. Whenever I see photographs of this artist, it sends me back in time to New York City and the East Village art scene that was so vibrant during the 1980s. Although I never had an opportunity to meet the artist, I almost feel as if I’ve been in his studio when I look at Ari’s work.

Yesterday, Detroit photographer Brad Iverson stopped by the DIA to see the exhibition. We had lunch in the cafe, and I absolutely love hearing him reminisce about his conversations and memories of Detroit artists, their work and exhibitions from the Cass Corridor era in the 1970s. When I visited Brad back in the summer, he had been digging through his archives, and we looked through his many photos of Detroit. I found out during my visit, that he had spent quite a bit of time photographing painter Allie McGhee over the years and one of these portraits is in the exhibition. Apparently, the two met when Detroit collector Gill Silverman commissioned Brad to create a series of portraits of Detroit artists. Brad and Allie became fast friends and jogging partners over the years. I was excited to get the news that Brad has a few book projects in development, and hopefully, I’ll be seeing his work compiled in a publication soon.


Artists' Club, Ionia County, Michigan, ca. 1870-85, by an unknown photographer, from the Leonard and Jean Walle collection.

Although the portraits of contemporary artists have fascinated our visitors, a number of people have remarked to me about the interesting selection of works on view from the 19th century. I am indebted to Len in Jean Walle for sharing a few treasures from their collection with the DIA.  They have been kind enough to invite me to their home where we have spent hours viewing their rare photographs. I remember one visit with the Walle’s last summer, when I first saw this photograph of group of women artists from Ionia, Michigan. I still wonder who these women were, and I’m sure their paintings can be found in the homes and attics of their relatives and friends.

Plans for our next photography exhibition are taking shape and on April 19, 2009, Of Life and Loss: The Polish Photographs of Roman Vishniac and Jeffrey Gusky will open in the Albert and Peggy de Salle Gallery of Photography.

Vishniac, Isaac Street, Kazimierz, Cracow, 1938, gelatin silver print, Collection of Mara Vishniac Kohn

Isaac Street, Kazimierz, Cracow, 1938, by Roman Vishniac, Collection of Mara Vishniac Kohn

Inspiration Among the Ruins – Detroit’s New Vocation

As the Motor City saw a slight thaw in temperatures last Friday, I got an opportunity to venture out into the recesses of Detroit with some out-of-town visitors, including the DIA’s guest lecturer, photographer Ari Marcopoulos. On his final day in the city, a mini road trip through some of our more well-known landmarks seemed in order, and Marcopoulos was anxious to get out and about in Detroit.
Untitled, 2009 Untitled, 2009, © 2009 N.W. Barr

Untitled, 2009, © 2009 N.W. Barr

On any given day, one can witness a variety of visual extremes in our local landscape from the grandiose art deco excesses of the Guardian building to the perpetually graying and disintegrating corpse we all know and love as Michigan Central Station. Stopping nearby its ruins, we grabbed some lunch at the Mercury Coffee Bar. Over a plate of fresh greens, all you could see was the station’s wrecked facade from the counter bar. Nowhere else but in Detroit can you have a more surreal culinary experience, and I couldn’t help but think about this area as it existed decades ago, when the trains were running and Michigan Avenue was really alive.

From the train station, we decided to travel across town, ending up on Detroit’s east side, where the Packard plant, Albert Kahn’s industrial masterpiece, was the most awe-inspiring stop of the day.

Packard Plant, 2005, by Jessica Ehrlers, ©2008-2009 Jessica Ehrlers

Packard Plant, 2005, by Jessica Ehrler, ©2008-2009 Jessica Ehrler

In all its glorious and wintry decrepitude, the plant’s creepy vibe gave this author and my visitors more than a moment to pause and reflect since a strange serenity permeates this place. You never stop getting the feeling that something – you don’t really know what – may happen and that ghosts, their memories as well as local scrappers, haunt every path and corner. Fortunately, veteran urban adventurer/photographer and Packard plant enthusiast Jessie Ehrler was on hand to provide some history and lead us through the rubble. Back in October, Ehrler offered some guidance around town when Doug and Mike Starn visited the city to scout sites for their projects currently in development.

 Untitled, 2008, © 2009 N.W. Barr

Untitled, 2008, by N.W.Barr, © 2009 N.W. Barr

Ehrler has been photographing Detroit’s ruins, specifically the Packard plant since around 2000. Her work came to my attention last year when she submitted images in the DIA’s on-line Flickr photo competition. She noted in her artist’s statement that the “silence of this building is eerie, but calming…” and perhaps her remarks uncover a larger revelation, namely that this city’s character is quietly emoting  its new vocation as the artist’s muse.  In the throes of “beautiful decay,” as some natives refer to Detroit’s widespread urban blight, the city has, for some time, been the subject of many Detroit-area photographers’ lens, but it is quickly becoming more than the local artist’s fancy.

From the Curator’s Desk – The Chance Is Higher


A number of Ari Marcopoulos’ books arrived at the museum this week in plenty of time for his lecture/book signing on Jan.22. So I finally got my hands on a copy of his book The Chance Is Higher which was published in 2008 by Dashwood Books.


The book includes reproductions of large-scale photocopies that Ari made from his original photographs  – portraits of his family, friends, and acquaintances interspersed with city views, graffiti,  still life, and nudes; he even includes a few older portraits of Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat. An eerie and mesmerizing image of a skull – a tattoo on the back of a shirtless boy  – floats beneath the embossed title and a fine pattern of cross-hatch found on the cover of this book. This texture gives it an inky flattened sheen like a faded tattoo, but it is reminiscent of a well-worn tapestry or an aged mezzotint. Strangely welcoming, a ghostly continuum follows. The imagery is steeped in memory, informed by urban iconography and the more intimate personal world and perceptions of the photographer.

The Chance is Higher (inside spread) by Ari Marcopoulos

The Chance is Higher (inside spread) by Ari Marcopoulos

The images may well be faithful reproductions of Ari’s grainy black-and-white photocopies. When I first looked through the pages of The Chance Is Higher, I experienced an aesthetic throwback to the 1970s, when experimenting with a xerox machine to make a homemade comic book, zine or flyer for a friend’s rock band required some pocket change and a trip to the local library or post office to make copies. Until Ari revived it, somewhat formally for this series and the book (he has used xeroxing for years to design his other books and zines), the photocopy was an old-school but treasured method of reproduction reserved for low-brow, albeit creative endeavors. It is ingeniously recaptured here with a remarkable amount of refinement and even a low-key elegance.

Year in Review – Photography@the DIA 2008

In closing out my fourteenth year here at the DIA, I was most excited in 2008 to see the renovation and reopening of the Albert and Peggy de Salle Gallery of Photography on July 9, 2008. The DIA was fortunate to have for the gallery’s inaugural exhibition Kenro Izu’s Sacred Places. Organized by the Peabody Essex Museum from The Lane Collection in Boston, over 50 platinum prints were on view featuring mostly ancient sites in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

Visitors viewing photographs by Kenro Izu in the exhibition Sacred Places at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 2008, photograph by Eric Wheeler for the DIA

Visitors viewing photographs by Kenro Izu in the exhibition Sacred Places at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 2008, photograph by Eric Wheeler for the DIA

Students viewing photographs of Tibet by Kenro Izu in the exhibition Sacred Places, 2008, photograph by Eric Wheeler for the DIA

Students viewing photographs of Tibet by Kenro Izu in the exhibition Sacred Places, 2008, photograph by Eric Wheeler for the DIA

The gallery saw a good amount of traffic over our summer months and into the fall, but  two highlights of this exhibition were  Kenro’s lecture to a standing-room only audience in early September as well as our first-ever online photo competition (see detroitssacredplaces.wordpress.com and flickr.com/groups/detroitssacredplaces/pool for details) that saw over eighty entries by primarily Detroit-area photographers featuring their imagery of Detroit’s “sacred places.”

The DIA showed its first permanent collection photo exhibition in seven years when In the Company of Artists opened on November 19 (it will be on view through February 15, 2009).  As with most permanent collection exhibitions, new acquistions are on view for the first time in this exhibition. The department of prints, drawings and photographs received several gifts from some very generous donors in the Detroit area. Of particular note is a 19th-century albumen print showing painter James MacNeill Whistler in his Paris studio around 1892. The photograph was donated by Detroit-area collectors Leonard and Jean Walle who also loaned a number of works to the exhibition from their collection of rare 19th-century photographic portraits.

Whistler in His Paris Studio at 106 Rue Notre Dame des Champs, 1892, by Dornac Studios (Paul Cardon)

Whistler in His Paris Studio at 106 Rue Notre Dame des Champs, 1892, by Dornac Studios (Paul Cardon)

In addition to works on view in the photo gallery throughout the second half of 2008, the DIA also installs rotations of contemporary photography in the Asian galleries as well as the contemporary art galleries and contemporary African American art galleries.  Works by Toshio Shibata (on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, NYC), Abelardo Morell and Edward West currently are on view and new rotations occur about every three months.

The DIA hosted a number of photo-related programs including lectures by photographer and historian Deb Willis, Getty Museum associate curator Virginia Hecket on the schools of German Photography, and a film screening of Black, White and Gray and discussion panel celebrating the life and career of Sam Wagstaff (see metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=12875 for Glen Mannisto’s essay about the event).

The DIA is looking forward to 2009 upcoming exhibitions including Of Life and Loss: The Polish Photographs of Roman Vishniac and Jeffrey Gusky opening in late April and a related May 17 lecture with Karen Sinsheimer, exhibition organizer and curator of photographs at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. A January 22 lecture with artist Ari Marcopoulos is also scheduled at 7 p.m. in the DIA’s Lecture Hall.

Ari Marcopoulos on YouTube

I just viewed Ari Marcopoulos on YouTube in a recent interview where he shares his thoughts on photography and life – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieaP5-LxECg

Save the Date – Lecture&Book Signing with Ari Marcopoulos, Jan. 22, 2009

Please join us in the DIA’s Lecture Hall, Thursday evening, Jan. 22, 2008, at 7 p.m. for a special presentation entitled, Making the Familiar Art, by photographer Ari Marcopoulos. The DIA will have Ari’s recent publications available and a book signing will follow his lecture, which is free and open to the public.

Ari Marcopoulos, Sonoma, 2008

Ari Marcopoulos, Sonoma, 2008

Years ago, Marcopoulos visited Detroit with his dad and took in a baseball game at the now-demolished Tiger Stadium.  He is looking forward to visiting the city again and may even craft a special custom zine for the event at the DIA.

Marcopoulos currently lives in northern California, but originally moved to New York City from Amsterdam in 1979. Early on, he worked for Andy Warhol, assisting on an occasional photo shoot. He quickly developed a reputation as an insider around downtown Manhattan art circles giving him access to writers, painters and musicians. He frequently made their portraits and recently several were acquired for the DIA’s permanent collection of photography. The photographs are on view in the exhibition entitled In the Company Artists through February 15, 2009.

Ari Marcopoulos, American (born 1957), Andy Warhol, 1981 (printed in 2008); gelatin silver print. Museum Purchase, Graphic Arts Council Photographic Fund (2008.51.1), © Ari Marcopoulos courtesy The Project.

Andy Warhol, 1981, by Ari Marcopoulos, . © Ari Marcopoulos courtesy The Project.

More recently, Ari’s work, including both still photography and video, has focused on the diversions of youth, its subculture and pastimes, especially the lifestyles of skate and snow boarders, musicians, his teenage sons, and their experiences as contemporary urban dwellers.

Ari Marcopoulos, Alice, 2007, from The Chance is Higher. © Ari Marcopoulos.

Alice, 2007, from The Chance is Higher, by Ari Marcopoulos. © Ari Marcopoulos.

Ari’s lecture will help to kick off the New Year at the DIA and its line-up of interesting programs and exhibitions for 2009. For more information, check out www.dia.org.