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Charles McGee
"Animal Spirit I" Expressionist Colors Mythical Animal Spirits on Handmade Paper

1983

$18,000

About

"Animal Spirit I" is a dynamic expression of McGee's mythical animal spirits. Hand signed and dated lower right front and on the verso signed and titled. Painting and mixed media present a complex scene that incorporates use of graphite and acrylic paint on thick handmade paper. Michelle Oka Doner was invited to participate in McGee's studio in the early 1980s and brought her handmade paper skills to share engaging McGee in this creative pursuit. McGee continued to develop these spiritual creatures throughout his career as can be seen in a piece from 1984, "Noah's Ark: Genesis, 1984," on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts, his brilliant 2005 "Progression" a 45-foot wide aluminum sculpture at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan, and his stunning 2016 "United We Stand" sculpture at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History . His genius can be seen in sculpture installments throughout the city of Detroit. "Animal Spirit I" is signed and dated lower right. Charles McGee was born into a family of sharecroppers. While helping his grandfather tend the land, "he observed firsthand the order and harmony that exists within nature." He had no formal schooling until moving to Detroit at age 10, where he found that "everything was on the move and it hasn’t slowed down yet." in 2017 he observed, "I learned something not being in school — because life is school . . .I learn something every time I move. Every time I go around a corner, something new is revealed to me.” McGee took advantage of the GI Bill to attend classes at the Society of Arts and Crafts, now the College for Creative Studies, Detroit, MI. Other College for Creative Studies faculty and graduates include Richard Jerzy, Harry Bertoia, Doug Chaing (currently director of Lucas Film), Stephen Dinehart (game maker, writer, designer connected with The David Lynch Foundation), Tyree Guyton (international artist), Herb Babcock , Jerome Feretti, Kevin Siembieda (writer, designer and publisher of role-playing games), Renee Radell (American Expressionist formerly from Detroit and New York), Philip Pearlstein, Charles McGee (nationally recognized African American sculptor of animal and dancing spirits), Philip Pearlstein (2000 Honorary Doctorate, Modern Realism style), John Louis Krieger (American Modern) and William Girard (American Modern.) After retiring from the Corps of Engineers, McGee spent 1968 studying art in Barcelona. Despite not knowing the language at the outset, he immersed himself in the culture and opened himself to a whole new range of experience that would play out in his artwork. "If you free yourself, you have this kind of opportunity to have those experiences, horizons, and new vistas." (per interview with Nick Sousanis. He returned to Detroit and curated "Seven Black Artists" at the Detroit Artists Market in 1969, which along with McGee himself, included Lester Johnson, Henri Umbaji King, Robert Murray, James Lee, Allie McGhee, Harold Neal, and Robert J. Stull. This immediately led to him opening the artists' collective Gallery 7 at 8232 West McNichols and the Charles McGee School of Art. The gallery ran until 1974 when he closed the school and moved the gallery to the Fisher building where it stayed until 1979. The school functioned entirely as a volunteer organization run by McGee. People rallied around it as a community project, with such teachers as artist George Rogers who worked with the children and Allie McGhee and others, even their supplies came as donations from local institutions. McGee states emphatically that, "People participated because we had created such a dynamic place in the community, people couldn't ignore it." His works are on permanent display at the Detroit Institute of the Arts and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Nationally, his work has shown at the Brooklyn Museum and Whitney Museum of American Art and in touring exhibitions under the umbrellas of the Smithsonian. McGee's work is installed in public settings, including the William Beaumont Hospital of Royal Oak, Michigan and the Detroit People Mover Broadway Station. According to the Kresge Foundation, "McGee developed an unwavering loyalty to the city and its residents, and endowed it with much of his artistic energy and artwork 'Detroit really has been a heaven for me,’ McGee explains. ‘It has given me dignity and treated me with respect.’” In 2008, McGee was named the first Kresge Eminent Artist. Administered by the College for Creative Studies, this award honors one Detroit artist each year for professional achievements, cultural contributions, and commitment to the local arts community. In early 2019, Michigan Legacy Art Park announced that McGee would receive its 2019 Legacy Award "in recognition of a lifetime of achievements and influences as an artist, teacher, advocate and global citizen."

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    Ships From: Detroit, MI
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