Local Artist Profiles

Nine profiles of local artists



Published:

(page 1 of 9)

Collaborations on Canvas


Bowen Kline and Tony Roko in their studio

Despite the acclaim that Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat achieved individually, any attempt to impress the art world with their collaborative pieces was a bust. Their 1985 show at a New York art gallery, in fact, was universally panned, leaving critics to wonder about the pair’s motives.

That’s not exactly an encouraging precedent for local artists Tony Roko and Bowen Kline, whose show of collaborative works opened last month at the Jewish Community Center of Metro Detroit. Still, they might have pulled it off — a year’s worth of haunting, emotional, and expressive figures on canvas, each painted at the hands of both artists at the same time.

One Saturday afternoon at Kline’s farmhouse in Romeo, the two discussed famous collaborative failures — well aware of the inherent risks of trying to fuse inner worlds.

“That’s where I think a lot of collaborations have failed,” Kline says. “When artists can’t let go of their own egos.”

“Compartmentalization” has also been a roadblock to collaborations, Roko says, recalling examples of artists who’ve divided the elements of a piece instead of working toward a cohesive look and feel.

By contrast, Roko and Kline don’t use verbal cues. They no longer seek validation from each other. The process, seemingly impossible or gimmicky to an onlooker, just seems to work.

Both Roko and Kline spent years developing their own styles before meeting each other a few years ago. Roko has spent much of his career as a resident artist at Ford Motor Co., gaining recognition for his murals “in the bowels” of Michigan auto factories. Kline has kept his self-taught art more low key, but the Southfield native’s friendship with Roko opened him up to the possibility of wider recognition.

At their core, they remain outsider artists. Because of their mutual admiration for each other’s work, they say their collaborations have evolved into learning processes that have only made them stronger in their individual art.

“As an artist, you always have to be learning and evolving,” Kline says. “In this situation when you’re painting with someone else, you’re forced to grow.”

At the Janice Charach Gallery through mid-October. jccdet.org, tonyroko.com, bowenkline.com

Pictured at right: frame detail in the studio of Tony Roko and Bowen Kline

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Savor Detroit, Fall 2017: October 6

From October 2-6, Hour Detroit held its biannual event Savor Detroit. The five-night series featured custom menus developed by the city’s most celebrated chefs for one-of-a-kind four-course meals complete with thoughtfully selected wine pairings. Friday's meals were prepared by chef Michael Barrera of Prime+Proper and Chef Joe VanWagner of Bistro 82. A portion of the proceeds benefited Eastern Market, which since the 1800s has gradually become a cornerstone, nourishing its residents by providing fresh and nutritious food throughout Southeastern Michigan.

Savor Detroit, Fall 2017: October 5

From October 2-6, Hour Detroit held its biannual event Savor Detroit. The five-night series featured custom menus developed by the city’s most celebrated chefs for one-of-a-kind four-course meals complete with thoughtfully selected wine pairings. Thursday's meals were prepared by Chef Ernesto Antopia of Cafe Cortina and Chef Craig Myrand of Diamonds. A portion of the proceeds benefited Eastern Market, which since the 1800s has gradually become a cornerstone, nourishing its residents by providing fresh and nutritious food throughout Southeastern Michigan.

Savor Detroit, Fall 2017: October 3

From October 2-6, Hour Detroit held its biannual event Savor Detroit. The five-night series featured custom menus developed by the city’s most celebrated chefs for one-of-a-kind four-course meals complete with thoughtfully selected wine pairings. Tuesday's meals were prepared by Chef Rebecca LaMalfa of Standby and Kate Williams of Lady of The House. A portion of the proceeds benefited Eastern Market, which since the 1800s has gradually become a cornerstone, nourishing its residents by providing fresh and nutritious food throughout Southeastern Michigan.

Savor Detroit, Fall 2017: October 4

From October 2-6, Hour Detroit held its biannual event Savor Detroit. The five-night series featured custom menus developed by the city’s most celebrated chefs for one-of-a-kind four-course meals complete with thoughtfully selected wine pairings. Wednesday's meal was prepared by Chef Jordan Hoffman of Parc and Chef Joe Flores of The Peterboro. A portion of the proceeds benefited Eastern Market, which since the 1800s has gradually become a cornerstone, nourishing its residents by providing fresh and nutritious food throughout Southeastern Michigan.

Savor Detroit, Fall 2017: October 2

From October 2-6, Hour Detroit held its biannual event Savor Detroit. The five-night series featured custom menus developed by the city’s most celebrated chefs for one-of-a-kind four-course meals complete with thoughtfully selected wine pairings. Monday's meals were prepared by Chef Jennifer Jackson Voyager and Alex Knezevic of Vertical. A portion of the proceeds benefited Eastern Market, which since the 1800s has gradually become a cornerstone, nourishing its residents by providing fresh and nutritious food throughout Southeastern Michigan.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Top Docs List 2017
  2. Why you should drink the F-ing Merlot
    Michigan winemakers believe the beleaguered grape deserves your attention
  3. The Common Cure
    Cats and dogs get many of the same cancers we do. Could they be the key to unlocking new...
  4. Making Bad Wine Extinct
    Better education and new technologies are improving nearly everyone’s output