Who you know and where you go: Detroit’s people and places are the respective subjects of an exhibition opening at Revolution Gallery in Ferndale and a brand-new book. Kurt Novak: Detroit Portraits, running March 5 through April 9 at Revolution, is a photography show featuring Novak’s large-scale portraits of local celebs — artists, patrons, writers, musicians and activists, such as Michael Luchs, Nancy Bonior, Elmore Leonard, John Sinclair and Wayne Kramer.
Like painted portraiture from centuries ago, some of Novak’s photos feature the sitters with props, symbols meant to reference the life of the subject. Novak also digitally manipulates the image, calling attention to the artistic process inherent in every photo, including the time Novak shared with his subjects. The show opens 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, at Revolution, 23257 Woodward Ave., Ferndale.
David Clements’ Talking Shops: Detroit Commercial Folk Art, published by Wayne State University Press, is a colorfully illustrated photo book of the city’s rusted, wooden and stained signs, perhaps bleeding and bleached in color or intermittently blinking in neon, but vibrant nonetheless as representation of the city’s vernacular history. Now-defunct operations are advertised with house paint on plywood and printed in boldly graphic letters and icons.
Clements has produced a book that’s a keeper. The publication itself is a work of art that does justice to, but does not overshadow, the art displayed within it as well as the story of Detroit’s sociology. Bill Harris’ foreword and Jerry Herron’s afterword are nice writerly bookends for the publication. A Talking Shops book signing is 7-10 p.m. on Friday, March 4 at Cass Cafe, 4620 Cass Ave., Detroit.Send comments to email@example.com