Charles McGee, 92-year-old artist and native Detroiter, celebrated the completion of a new monumental outdoor mural entitled UNITY, located at 28Grand, a new 13-story, micro-loft building in Downtown Detroit.
The reveal was partnered with the opening of the artist’s retrospective exhibition, “Charles McGee: Still Searching” at 1505 Woodward Ave., honoring the life of the long-time artist. The exhibition will remain on view though July 1.
This event was presented by a partnership between Library Street Collective, a cutting-edge, contemporary fine art space that hosts exhibitions, special projects and art fairs nationally and internationally, and Bedrock Detroit, a real estate company in Detroit. The exhibition was hosted on the first floor of the building, which is under construction by the real estate company.
Still Searching commemorates the 70-year-long career of McGee, displaying an array of works on his two most enduring themes: chronicles of the black experience and a love of nature. The exhibition also encapsulates his evolution across various artistic mediums, ranging from charcoal drawings and photography to three-dimensional and multimedia pieces.
Pictured below is one of the larger pieces at the exhibition, entitled Play Patterns II, a mixed media collage on enamel completed by the artist in 2011.
In the basement of the exhibition, a film played on loop entitled, “Charles McGee – Nature,” a Hometown Video award-winning production that depicts the inspiration for McGee’s artwork. The general theme of nature can be seen throughout his works, with underlying themes of life and meaning.
Just down the road, approximately one block from the site of the exhibition stands the outdoor mural UNITY, displayed on the side of the 28Grand micro-lofts and measuring 118 feet by 50 feet. The mural came to fruition by Golden Sign Co. artists Kelly Golden and Jordan Zielke.
The mural was completed across a span of three weeks, with an estimated 250 hours of manpower and 100 gallons of paint, according to the Detroit Free Press. The painting stands stark against the surrounding skyscrapers with a striking black and white color scheme and polka dot curves and geometric patterns dotting the surface.
McGee’s artwork doesn’t start and stop in downtown Detroit. Other pieces are poised at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, the Detroit People Mover Broadway Station and the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Born in 1924, McGee has lived in Detroit since the age of 10. Throughout the 1970s, McGee created murals as part of public art works programs in downtown Detroit, one of them being an untitled geometric mural that still stands at 234 W. Larned since 1974.
McGee’s work is still not done as the artist revealed his future ambitions for additional public installations.
You can visit the Still Searching exhibition at 1505 Woodward Ave. Wednesday – Saturday from noon – 6:00 p.m. now through July 1.