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Visual arts > Motor City Cribs and Rides

Motor City Cribs

The Corktown digs and studio of artist Dennis Michael Jones

MT Photo: Doug Coombe
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Published 7/9/2008

Detroit based painter, sculptor and illustrator Dennis Michael Jones likes to get right to the heart of the matter with his art — using a lot of humor along the way. His sculptures and illustrations make use of a single repeated figure that questions "the creative process and its corruption."

It's this concern that's led the College for Creative Studies instructor to work exclusively for the last few months with text-based works — be they small illustrations or gigantic paintings frequently collaged together from recycled and discarded paintings. His reuse and painting over of older works gives his canvases a rich, weathered background for his pointed and sometimes witty observations.

Jones' Corktown digs (and studio) is packed with huge paintings, playful sculptures and endless illustrations. One gets an appreciation for the massive scale of his work — be it in size or how many permutations Jones can explore with one idea. One wall is covered with a huge painting of "To the Promised Land" in white text on a red textured background which shows that pointed edge beneath the playfulness of his work. As nearby Tiger Stadium gets consigned to the dustbin of history Jones says "You can't get away from the neglect in this city — 'To the Promised Land' represents an American dream that has become bankrupt."

Jones cites as influenced the intense textures of Jasper Johns' work and Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger and Richard Prince's use of text, but he brings his own heart, humor and style to the work.

"I'm trying to be as direct as possible with my work — it's a reflection of the struggle I go through trying to squeak out a living as an artist — though I do like to introduce humor, fun and hope to my work too" Jones says.

See Jones' work at the College for Creative Studies Sept. 27-Oct. 25. The Oct. 24 closing reception will coincide with Andres Serrano Picks Detroit.

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