Fantastical Landscapes and Creatures at innovative Detroit gallery Artists discuss a natural world in today's contemporary cosmos 

It was October 1998, hammers and drills were still pounding and buzzing as curious art enthusiasts entered the newly opened gallery for the first time.  "The show must go on!", proclaimed the gallery's founder.  And it did.  Mixed throughout the chaos were 12 actors performing a piece by Phaedra Robinson, who was eventually to become a long time Detroit based artist now living in Miami.  "Gallery goers thought the construction workers were part of the art performance.  Little did they know, the construction work was real, but then again, so was the art."  says Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit's president Aaron Timlin.  That was almost 15 years ago.  The detroit contemporary has returned in recent years; now under the auspice of CAID.  Along with the return of detroit contemporary, so returns the artist Phaedra Robinson in her first solo exhibition in the space.  Robinson, a director at detroit contemporary in 2002 and 2003, and former curator at Juris Galleries, also returns to curate a group show on the first floor running parallel to her solo installation on the second level. 

             "Beyond the Landscape of Love and

Death" a solo show by Phaedra Robinson,

in conjunction with "The Nature Of...", a

group exhibition curated by the artist,

opened at the detroit contemporary April

13, 2013.  The exhibitions will run through May 12, 2013.

             "Beyond the Landscape of Love and Death" is a semi-autobiographical exhibition that takes the form of metaphor, using materials from Phaedra Robinson's life; from those she has loved; some who have passed and some who remain. The sacred and the profane: fertility, death, transformation and the beauty of birth are all represented in a dream-like installation of plant- and creature-like forms symbolically and formally eliciting the viewer's senses. Through the marriage of organic and man-made materials, (such as palm fronds and bicycle tires, or hair, thorns and glass beads), Phaedra Robinson has created a powerful environment imbued with personal meaning.  "This installation of objects and images speaks of the transformation from struggle to the joy and beauty of the blossoming world around us", says Robinson. 

            "The Nature Of..." is a collection of

contemplations and tales (both mythical

and historical) told through the work of

four powerful creators each with their

own unique focus on the relationship

between life in this world, death or that

which lies in-between. 

South African born Janet Slom currently lives between Connecticut and Miami and joins the work of Renee Dooley, Mary Laredo, and Nicole Macdonald from Detroit. "Through their intelligent and beautifully considered works, we are given great insight into the relationship between contemporary man and nature as well as the spiritual and creative processes, which provide us with a path", says curator, Phaedra Robinson.  The deceased, Mary Laredo, will be represented by never before exhibited works.                   

            For more information contact Jaclyn Strez at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., visit, and check out the exhibition page on Facebook:

 About The Artists

 Phaedra Robinson - A painter, sculptor, dancer, performance and installation artist, Phaedra Robinson has also worked in video, sound and photography. She has participated in and organized many collaborative, cross-media and mail-art projects. Her work has been shown in museums and galleries both nationally and internationally. Currently living and working in Miami, she teaches through the Miami Art Museum and has been an art educator since 2000. Prior to moving to Miami, FL in August 2008, Robinson lived most of her academic and professional life as an artist based in Detroit, MI. There she also played an important role as a teacher, curator, lecturer, writer and community organizer and for a time as associate director and later director of detroit contemporary. She taught for eight years at the College for Creative Studies, (where she had received her BFA), while also founding The Center for Creative Exchange. Robinson has served on the boards and committees of multiple arts and community organizations, and has written art criticism for various print and online sources including The Metro Times,, and for the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts to discuss the Lincoln Center List Print Collection.

 Nicole MacDonald - For the past two years Nicole has been painting very small areas of Detroit, making detailed landscapes of her surrounding environment. The intention of these paintings is to make an historical record, working from direct observation to a more stylized rendering, blending fictitious elements and combining perspectives. There is a similar approach in her stencil and wheat paste work, generally designed for the outdoors, where reality is altered for viewer accessibility. The outdoor art aims to project a social message on issues that particularly affect the City of Detroit and that will stimulate conversation and questioning of the status quo.

 Janet Slom - South African born artist Janet Slom has won numerous international awards and commissions. She has had 18 solo exhibitions and participated in over 50 group shows in the U.S. and abroad.  Her work is included in prominent collections including the South Africa Parliament (Cape Town, South Africa).She has exhibited at United Nations (NYC), Lincoln Center (NYC), the Adelson Gallery (NYC), Everard Read Gallery (Cape Town, South Africa), and Frank Pages Gallery (Baden-Baden, Germany). She is currently on the faculty of Lehigh University's Iacocca Institute Global Village and has received her MFA from Mass College of Art.

 Renee M. Dooley - Renee Dooley is a Detroit based artist who works in collage and assemblage. A College for Creative Studies graduate, her work is influenced by Dada and Surrealist art, folklore, fairytales and mythology. Her work has been exhibited at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, Madonna University, The Gallery Project and Cranbrook Art Museum.

 Mary Laredo - Mary Laredo, so-named after her birthplace of Laredo, Texas, was a second-generation Mexican American who moved to Detroit as a child, and grew up in the northwest side neighborhood known as Brightmoor.  Laredo had pursued her interests in art and performance for more than two decades, and received both BFA and MFA degrees from Wayne State University where her concentration was metal jewelry design and sculpture. Laredo's autobiographical work often references the processes and rituals of holistic healing using metal and natural materials as metaphor for the body.  Laredo's sculpture and assemblages reveal an underlying interest in form and object-making.  Laredo was also active as an artist/educator in community and public art projects on Detroit's southwest side, and is a founding member of the Southwest Artists' Network of Detroit (SWAN-Detroit). 

Music by Oblique Noir - The eclectic repertoire of Oblique Noir circles the globe, adding the "World" to "Lounge Music", as we put our own spin on vintage boleros from Cuba, classic tunes and lesser-known gems by such diverse artists as Billie Holiday, Patsy Cline, Los Lobos, Fred Neil, Edith Piaf, and Kurt Weill; and theme songs from films such as Black Orpheus and You Only Live Twice. Cover tunes sung in English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese showcase Sylvia Inwood's dynamic vocal presence and gift for languages. Original compositions include instrumentals featuring Djeto Juncaj's fiery flamenco guitar styling and K Kerry Gluckman's infectious Latin rhythms, as well as original songs in Spanish and French. Take a trip to distant lands and bygone eras with the thrilling musical enchantment of Oblique Noir!

 Images available upon request.


 detroit contemporary

5141 Rosa Parks Blvd

Detroit, Michigan 48208