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December 10, 2004 - Image 63

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-12-10

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"Windsor From Belle Isle," oil on canvas, 2004

`Manhattan From Long Island City," oil on canvas, 2004

Parallel Views

Detroit native Neil Plotkin presents paintings of his hometown and adopted home in local gallery exhibit.

SUZANNE CHESSLER

Special to the Jewish News

N

eil Plotkin clearly believes
there's no place like home
even when home can be more
than one place. In his case, there are
two hometowns, and he captures them
through an exhibit of his paintings that
show realistic scenes of Detroit and
New York City.
Home — Paintings of Two Cities runs
through Jan. 15 at P.F. Galleries in
Clawson.
Some images are parallel, part of a
journey into the commonality of his
birth and adopted towns. Other views
stand alone to provide distinctive —
and sometimes out-of-the-way — ele-
ments of his favorite urban centers.
"There is no way I could paint
something without an emotional tie,
and both of these cities have that," says
Plotkin, 35, who traveled back to
Michigan many times so that he could
offer views of today, not the ones alive
in his memory. "My intent was not to
paint sites that served as parallels, but I
came to realize that there were paral-
lels."
Plotkin, in complementary render-
ings, shows large buildings with back-
drops of water and sky He has depic-
tions of the Belle Isle Bridge and the
Brooklyn Bridge. With nature as the
centerpiece, the artist features a Detroit

lot filled only with plant life and a sim-
ilar area seen from a passing train in
New York.
There are some 25 images in the
exhibit, converging ideas in personal-
ized ways. Taxis on 37th Street, for
instance, presents a New York street
with a line of parked cars covered with
snow. Although the scene provides a
glimpse into his adopted city, the idea
of painting cars takes him back to the
dominant business in the city of his
birth.
"I used to live on a street called
Woodstock in the Green Acres subdivi-
sion near Eight Mile and Woodward,
and I remember cooling off in the
summer with the water from a fire
hydrant," says Plotkin, whose family
moved to Franklin while he was still
quite young. "I have a painting of a
fire hydrant that recalls those times."
Plotkin's artistic interests were
explored early and in different media,
but he emphasized photography and
jewelry projects while attending
Birmingham Groves High School. His
observance of neighborhood sites,
which eventually would join his sub-
jects, intensified as he walked from
home to attend bar mitzvah classes at
Temple Beth El.
Serious art studies were pursued at
the University of Michigan, where
Plotkin earned two bachelor's degrees,
one in drawing and another in art his-

"Lot 1 Off Atwater," oil on linen, 2004 "Taxis on 37th Street," oil on panel, 2004

tory. After attending the New York
Academy of Art, he signed up for spe-
cialized classes in London and Prague
to experience more closely the 19th-
century French academic methods.
Back in New York City, his adopted
home for the past eight years, Plotkin
leased an apartment big enough to
allow studio space. His paintings,
mostly oils on canvas, come after com-
pleting his day job as a design director
at Bloomingdale's, where he develops
private-label home products from
candy to furniture.
"I knew in high school that I would
be a professional artist, but I did not
want to focus on jewelry," says Plotkin,
who painted scenes of miniature fig-
ures and created new worlds with them
long before high school. Although
some of those will not be part of the
Clawson exhibit, they will be available
for sale.
"While I was in Ann Arbor, I found
that painting offered more expressive
opportunities," the artist says. "I chose
to focus on the figurative style because
it's so universal and accessible, and I
like to show the beauty of the reality in
our surroundings. I think that abstract
paintings speak to a smaller audience
because they are more about the people
painting them."
Plotkin took hundreds of photos in
Michigan as foundations for his series
now on view. He brought in scenes of

Belle Isle to let him mix nature among
the industrial images.
Plotkin, the son of Arthur Plotkin of
Franklin and Eunice Ciaccio of San
Diego, credits his sister, Leah Plotkin,
of Ferndale, for helping to arrange his
Clawson show. A friend of gallery
.owner Lee Jackson, she introduced
recent works completed by her brother.
Although this is Plotkin's first exhibit
in Michigan, his paintings have been
on view in New York, Florida and
Switzerland. His projects also have
become part of private collections.
"Having grown up in Detroit, I was
happy to portray the city rebounding,"
says Plotkin, who is single and enjoys
skiing and rollerblading when he
decides to take brief periods of time
away from his artistry.
"When I return to Detroit, I find
the new buildings very exciting in
themselves and as subjects for my
work. The Renaissance Center is
shown in View of Detroit From Belle
Isle and The Reflecting Pool." Li

"Home — Paintings of Two
Cities" runs through Jan. 15 at
P.F. Galleries, 213 E. 14 Mile,
Clawson. Gallery hours are 9:30
a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays
and 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays.
(248) 989-8889.

tza

"Johnny Pump," oil on linen, 2004 "Con Edison Building 2," oil on panel, 2004

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12/10

2004

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