Two artists know what comes after death and two are speculating. This is part of an upcoming show at River’s Edge Gallery in downtown Wyandotte opening September 15th.
The four artists involved in the show Dr. Arnold Dreifus (deceased) , Jeremy Hansen (living) , Matt Lewis (living) and Jim Slack (deceased), have always had an ethereal side to their art. They have posed questions about a Supreme Being, the meaning of life and their place and all of our places in the whole scheme of things. Of course this can be said of most artists as art is said to come from the spirit or soul of the maker. These images are sometimes blatant but more often in the eye of the beholder. With these four artists none of the pieces are statements but more questions. According to Patt Slack, co-owner of the gallery, “These four artists have always been brave about putting forward their images and embody a famous quote by John F. Kennedy that‘the highest duty of an artist is to remain true to himself and let the chips fall where they may’”. She said also she would add one more Kennedy quote...” ‘If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him’.”
Patt added that she would imagine some viewers may find the images “challenging”. She explains that a series by Jeremy Hansen places his image in the place of other Saints or Sinners such as Salome is holding Jeremy’s head in her hand instead of John the Baptist and Mary in the famous Pieta sculpture is comforting the likeness of Jeremy. A painting by Jim Slack shows Jesus between Elvis and Lenny Bruce while they die of a drug overdoes on the toilet. She remember this as a holy picture for Jim. “He saw it as showing that no matter how far down you go in this life, you are accepted and loved by a higher power.” explained Patt. She also said there will be other images not so challenging in fact beautiful as the spiritual landscapes of Matt Lewis and the recreations of the dreams of Dr. Dreifuss’ paintings from his psychology practice.
The four artists have very diverse backgrounds:
Dr. Arnold Dreifuss: (died 2007) A Detroit artist by way of Chicago , Dreifuss, as a boy, wanted to go to art school. His father did not agree that art was a viable option for a career so Dr. Dreifuss acquired his PhD in Psychology and Education. The Dr. became a psychologist and a professor at Detroit Mercy College all the while maintaining a prolific art career. His paintings and prints are an “art brut” (primitive) style found on an array of substrates from broken fences nailed together to canvas stretched over side tables with the legs removed. Though it was said that he painted his patients dreams, he also explored mythology and Christian iconic narratives.
Jeremy E. Hansen: A downriver artist by way of Vancouver Canada who came to Metro Detroit after a short lived career as a professional figure skater and acrobat with Disney On Ice. Jeremy grew up figure skating competitively and then after the traumatic death of his mother he quitand concentrated studying theater and later philosophy in college until he auditioned on a whim for Disney on Ice. Hansen's mother was insistent on giving him a cultured education taking him out of class to go to ballets or operas and see special exhibitions at the Vancouver gallery. At 16 Jeremy met some local artists in Vancouver and became encouraged to "make art" and a few years later began making art out of trash unaware that he was diving into the beginnings an art career. Jeremy will be releasing a new series of classically inspired iconic paintings.
Matt Lewis: A graduate from the Center for Creative Studies and currently both a teacher and an artist. Matt terms his acrylics and watercolors as Spiritual Landscapes infused with his Buddhist practice. According to Matt,
“My work evolves out of a necessity for the work to come into being. The work is a necessary activity for me in terms of a meditation, reflection, and possibility of self actualization. The work has become more focused in recent years on thoughts and meditations of spiritual exploration and psychological activity, both conscious and unconscious. I explore an imaginary psychological landscape that is easily accessed by our own understanding of both figure ground relationships and the familiarity of the landscape format. These works have no specific narrative and instead utilize a matrix of what I consider to be personal mark making activity. This activity results in the creation of unconscious personal symbols that represent for me the idea of the unknowable, or the unknowable by intellect, in effect, the idea of symbolizing what is instead a part of you, and therefore transcends knowing and unknowing. It is therefore a representation of the mystery, and a record of a meditation.
Jim Slack: (died 2001) A Detroit artist by way of New Jersey. As a young boy Jim was a working artist and had a powerful mentor who was the then Art Critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was showing in New York as a teen and had gotten accepted and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. After he was drafted and spent a stint in Viet Nam he continued to hang out with artists in New York the likes of Andy Warhol and crew but he did very little painting. He hit the road as a full blown hippie and traveled to San Francisco and Height Ashbury street where he lived in the Grateful Dead commune. When his lifestyle became too much he was encouraged to come to Detroit by an army buddy. Detroit is where he began painting again and became involved with the Michigan Gallery and other non profits. He then opened River’s Edge Gallery with his wife, Patt Slack. His painting were usually large and contemporary and he sold internationally before his death in 2001.