DETROIT — If, on occasion, I have taken issue with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit for weak curation or content that fails to connect with its immediate surrounding audience, it is only because I’ve seen what it is capable of when it gets everything right. The current summer exhibition Fictitious Character, a career-bridging selection of works by Michael Luchs side-by-side with a jaw-dropping installation of new works by Tal R, is a resounding success, conceptually and aesthetically. It is a shining example of how great MOCAD can be when it becomes a lens through which Detroit can shine.
Michael Luchs is more or less the platonic ideal image of the Detroit creative spirit in the wild and untamed Cass Corridor — once the rough-and-tumble area situated just south of Wayne State University, and home to a coterie of interdisciplinary creatives who gave birth to Detroit’s highest-profile homegrown contemporary art, the Cass Corridor Movement, most active from the 1960s to the ’80s.
MOCAD is situated in the footprint of the Cass Corridor, but current development has rebranded the area “Midtown,” and as it is among the fastest-rising neighborhoods, one must squint to find any trace of the original grit that for decades made the Cass Corridor a notoriously sketchy place to hang. That grit is evident and dynamically alive in Luchs’s work, mostly large-scale paintings and drawings, and small to medium sculptural creations, assembled from and in conversation with the scrap and salvage that was the bedrock of Detroit’s waning infrastructure for many years.
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