Library Street Collective and presenting sponsor Bedrock Detroit are proud to announce CHARLES MCGEE: STILL SEARCHING, a retrospective exhibition at 1505 Woodward Ave honoring the eminent 92-year-old Detroit artist. The exhibition will open June 1 with an artist reception from 6pm – 8pm, coinciding with the unveiling of a new monumental outdoor mural by McGee entitled UNITY at 28Grand (28 . Grand River, across Clifford St. from STILL SEARCHING). The exhibition will remain on view through July 1.

STILL SEARCHING traces McGee’s 70-year-long career through an array of works that encapsulate two of the artist’s most enduring themes: chronicles of the black experience and a love of nature. The retrospective also reflects McGee’s evolution across mediums, with works ranging from charcoal drawings and photography to avant-garde three-dimensional and multimedia pieces.

Approximately one block from the site of the exhibition, the monumental outdoor mural Unity, measuring 118’ 6’’ x 50’ 9’’, will be completed in May on the north elevation of 28Grand, Bedrock’s new 13-story, micro-loft building in Downtown Detroit. The artist states that his ambition for the mural is to reach new audiences, and that he has further plans for public installations in the future.

Celebration, 2007 Enamel and mixed media collage on dibond 60" x  84" inches

Celebration, 2007
Enamel and mixed media collage on dibond
60" x  84" inches

Jazz Shouts and Whispers Charcoal, ink and collage on illustration board 30" x 40" inches.; Charcoal

Jazz Shouts and Whispers
Charcoal, ink and collage on illustration board
30" x 40" inches.; Charcoal

McGee, who was born in 1924 and has lived in Detroit since the age of 10, has previously completed public art projects in and around Detroit at the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan and the Detroit People Mover Broadway Station, among other sites. Additionally, his works are on permanent display at the Detroit Institute of the Arts and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Nationally, his work has shown at the Brooklyn Museum and Whitney Museum of American Art and in touring exhibitions under the umbrellas of the Smithsonian and Corcoran Gallery of Art of Washington D.C. He is a founder of Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit.

Charles McGee’s art and outlook are inspiring for us all.  His enduring creativity throughout a long career and at 92 years old is just as impressive as his sustained optimism regarding the future of the city of Detroit and its people.  The rich talent expressed in his diverse twelve artworks in the Detroit Institute of Arts collection demonstrates his growth as an artist and human being, as well as his inner strength in facing the challenges of each new day with imagination and hope.  

 - Valerie J. Mercer, Curator and Department Head
General Motors Center for African American Art, DIA

Detroit artist Charles McGee (Portrait by Ray Manning)

Detroit artist Charles McGee (Portrait by Ray Manning)

My name is Charles McGee, I am an artist from this area. I have learned how to make art to a certain extent out of observation and deduction. I observe life, I observe nature’s giving to me the propensity to take its elements and push them around, and it becomes a teaching process. The whole pursuit of this learning process for me has been almost a love/hate affair. Because it bothers me that we are in the predicament that we are in the world and yet, we can only take it so far as the teaching is concerned. I’m delighted that nature gave me this propensity to share the little information it has given me. And that is the motor that drives me into tomorrow, thinking about what I can do to help humanity if indeed I can contribute. Everything that I do is about trying to make tomorrow a better day, not only for myself, but for all around me, and I think that that’s the reason that I was given talent in the first place. I am very interested in materials and methods, and the logic that comes out of that for me, is all consuming, I sleep it, I drink it, it’s just total in making me the kind of person that I am, and consequently having the little richness that I have from nature’s gift, I try to give it back. That’s it. 

Play Patterns II, 2010-11 Mixed media collage on enamel 120" x 240" inches

Play Patterns II, 2010-11
Mixed media collage on enamel
120" x 240" inches

Library Street Collective specializes in cutting edge contemporary fine art with a focus on emerging and established artists who have pushed the boundaries of traditional medium and exhibition space. Located in the heart of downtown Detroit, we present regular group and solo exhibitions while contributing to the artistic renaissance of the city's public, private, and heritage spaces. It is our mission to bring both world-renowned artists and exciting new work to a reimagined Detroit, as well as carry this sentiment as we expand our presence through exhibitions, special projects and art fairs nationally and internationally. 

Hannah Holden | Olu & Company | hannah@olucompany.com