Why is a dance club not like an art gallery? Galleries are usually well-lit, quiet places with lots of wall space and leg room, letting viewers walk around, step forward or backward while they peruse. Dance clubs (at least the happening ones) are polar opposites from all of the above. But the motto of many artists being “go contrary,” it should be no surprise that Motor, Hamtramck’s vast inner sanctum of electronic nightlife, is home to a monthly series of art exhibitions called Elementdetroit. Curated by interactive graphic designer John Stoll and artist-designer Asa Nagao, the exhibits take place in the club’s back-room bar amid imbibers of libations and saturated sonic vibrations. This month there’s a show featuring the serenely mysterious photographs of Chris Kalafert (of the Center for Creative Studies) who manipulates images from nature (leaves, branches, white space) to subtly resemble body parts. Another CCS artist, Mark Sengbusch, offers some pretty wonderful marker drawings — and young Emily Elmer’s collage, “Liebeslieder 2000,” shifts the surreal-sensometer into “high.” But works by David Peterson, Joshua Grant Bellfy and Matt Norman, in which color is a vital dimension, are doused by the relative darkness of the club. Organizer Stoll sees his project as bringing art and new audiences together in unexpected, unorthodox ways, outside the blatant commerce of the gallery system, though he admits that lighting is the primary stumbling block in his current space. What he has going for him, though, are freshness and commitment to a populist ideal. The opening of Elementdetroit’s new show — 9 p.m., Feb. 24 at Motor (3515 Caniff, Hamtramck) — is also a birthday bash for Nagao. Dance to the aesthetic.
Among 40 sites on the City of Detroit Cultural Affairs Department’s Winter Gallery Crawl (Saturday, Dec. 7, noon-7:30 p.m.), check out:
“Cousins,” paintings and installation by Tom Block, at Swords into Plowshares Peace Center and Gallery (33 E. Adams, on Grand Circus Park, Detroit) through Jan. 25. Hours are 11 a.m-3 p.m., Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Call 313-963-7575.
“Milagros: Miracles in Religion, Treasures from Lithuania and the works of Daniel Martin Diaz” at CPOP Gallery (4160 Woodward Ave., Detroit) through Dec. 29. Call 313-833-9901.
“Making Meaning: Metalsmithing, Objects and Contingencies in the Next Millennium” at Elaine L. Jacob Gallery (480 W. Hancock, Detroit) through Jan. 24. Call 313-993-7813.The Hot & the Bothered is edited by MT arts editor George Tysh. E-mail him at email@example.com.