DETROIT — About a year ago, I started to follow some of the David Klein Gallery artists on Twitter. David Klein Gallery is a blue chip gallery in Birmingham, Michigan (a wealthy suburb of Detroit). One of those artists was Bo Bartlett (@TheBoBartlett). Bartlett is an exceptional figurative painter … and he is a really nice guy. (I later found out that he is the father of the most prolific Twitter user I follow @ManBartlett — fun-ish fact: Man Bartlett clued me into Hyperallergic, which brings me here, and Hyperallergic just ran a studio visit story on Betsy Eby, who is married to Bo … I feel that I should start to follow @KevinBacon.) This is one of the great things about social media: Artists and people who love art have an uncomplicated entry point to introduce themselves to and keep up to date about artists and writers that they admire.
A week before St. Patrick’s Day, @TheBoBartlett sent me a message on Twitter:
“Heading to Detroit for @BetsyEby ‘s show @DKleinGallery 🙂 cc@alyssamonks @colindarke @kellydarke.”
How could I resist meeting someone I met in the Twitterverse in person?
So I went to Betsy Eby’s solo show. It is great. She creates atmospheric pieces where her expressive imagery ebbs in and out of focus through a serene scene of diffused whites. In person, the viewer sees layers of imagery that conjure an otherworldly atmosphere. With this unique atmosphere, Betsy’s pieces give a quiet, meditative respite. In describing her work, Betsy focuses on her love of music. You can recognize this inspiration when you look at her work, because she balances deep echoes with light chimes — namely, there is a depth and a height in her compositions that have the ring of a great orchestral score.
Her work, however, highlights one of the problems with social media and the arts. Her work does not translate well outside of seeing the work in person. Her paintings “look nice” reprinted online, but her paintings are beautiful and moving in person. This is because she creates her paintings through the encaustic technique, which involves a blow torch, beeswax and colored pigments, and layers upon layers of process.
Seeing her work in person is a testament to the power of experiencing art and life in person. I peeled myself away from my computer, and I drove to see the opening of her solo show, Ayers & Fantasies. I had a blast. I met three artists that I had admired from afar, and I got to know the welcoming people at David Klein Gallery. (As you can see from my Gollum-like appearance above, another drawback of social media is the lack of sunlight.)
@DKgallery also showed some new pieces by Bo Bartlett, which are beautiful portraits of Betsy Eby and Alyssa Monks. Additionally, the gallery has some new work by Alyssa Monks—another artist that you need to see in person. Her photorealistic works can enthrall viewers from afar (online), but she has a technique where she uses lively brush strokes that create a whole new experience for the viewer looking at her work in person.
I left the show inspired (to meet more artists online and to meet more artists offline).
Betsy Eby continues at the Davide Klein Gallery (163 Townsend, Birmingham, Michigan) until this Saturday, April 14.