Michael E. Smith
              Chris Sharp
              Michael E. Smith’s first solo exhibition at this gallery is bit of a surprise. Known for his deployment of disfigured domestic and urban products, car manufacturing materials, and generally toxic plastics, the Detroit born-and-based artist has partially shed the intensely saturnine pall that normally hangs over his portentous arrangements for a somewhat brighter and more playful mood. However, to claim that playfulness is new to what he does might be misleading. Indeed, what’s not playful about grilling a plastic and rubber covered canvas? Or, say, saturating pieces of clothing in polyester resin and occasionally sawing them in half? And to say that the sense of doom that normally lurks within his disfigured objects has been entirely drained away from them, like blood, would be no less misleading. For this exhibition, Smith has punctuated Detroit’s venerable Susanne Hilberry Gallery—which is actually not in Detroit, but a suburb thereof, Ferndale, less than a mile away from the city’s limits—with a selection of some sixteen odd sculptures, works on canvas, and a light intervention. But were you to walk into Hilberry’s sleek and airy space, you would most likely be impressed by its sense of sprawling emptiness. Aside from a sculptural intervention in the …

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