April McGee-Flournoy and Lyndsay McGee in front of Play Patterns II in Detroit.
Library Street Collective is thrilled to partner with Orange Barrel Media (OBM) to display Charles McGee’s work in downtown Detroit. The artist and educator, who called Detroit home, passed away in February of 2021 at the age of ninety-six. His prolific career spanned nearly eight decades.
In 2017, Library Street Collective began working closely with McGee, and since his passing the gallery has worked alongside his daughters to assemble a collection of his remaining works. As part of these efforts, with support from Orange Barrel Media, McGee’s 2011 work Play Patterns II will be on display in Detroit’s historic Washington Blvd district through October 16th, 2022.
“It’s been an honor working with Charles McGee and the entire McGee family throughout the years to further integrate his longtime community-driven art practice into the city of Detroit—from murals to various public installations and, notably, the Charles McGee Legacy Park set to open in early summer of 2023 in the city’s East Village neighborhood. What drew us to Play Patterns II for this latest project was the imagery’s capacity to encompass different stylistic points in Charles’ expansive career, in his early days having focused on realistic figurism and gradually shifting into the realm of pure abstraction with compositions informed by line and color in his later days. The colorful nature of the work was equally important for the lightness and joy we hope it will inspire amongst all that encounter the billboard," said Anthony Curis.
McGee suffered a stroke in 2011 while working on this monumental mixed media painting – one of his largest three-dimensional pieces ever created. After leaving the hospital, he enlisted the help of assistants to complete the piece, and it became one of the most iconic works of his career. Play Patterns II is a mixed media collage on enamel that, according to the artist, “speaks passionately for the strength inherent in the equation of togetherness of all things in cosmic order.”
"All 50 elements of Play Patterns II are essential and represent the world and nature as a consortium. The piece represents my father's work and legacy. It inspires us as a family to strive for unity in a collective effort to honor who Charles McGee was, and his tenacity to overcome challenges with the hope we will live a life that brings inspiration to the world, and our community. My hope is that the billboard sends a message that we all are essential, and must work in concert together, in unity, to fulfill our purpose in this world," said April McGee-Flournoy.
OBM, an operator of outdoor signage across the country, is honored to display McGee’s work on their first sign location in the city of Detroit as a demonstration of how the intersection of outdoor media and art enlivens public spaces. Partnering with Library Street Collective in this way has been the realization of a major objective for OBM, recognizing Library Street’s long history of working with and celebrating the Detroit artist community. The project marks the first of many collaborations with the gallery in the future
“Using our media platform to enrich communities and extend the reach of diverse public art is at the heart of OBM’s mission. Our role is to support artists, art organizations, so partnering with the Library Street Collective, and contributing to public awareness of Charles McGee’s incredible body of work, is the epitome of our why. We’re proud to be a part of this exciting project and look forward to future collabs with Library Street Collective. When culture, commerce, and community work together, it’s truly powerful,” said Pete Scantland, CEO of Orange Barrel Media.
Installation view of Charles McGee, Play Patterns II, 2011 on display in Detroit.