Swing Back In Time
Within the mind of Detroit-based artist SLAW, lives an everlasting mid-20th century martini lounge where the times are good, people are good-looking and the music just swings. SLAW’s world comes to life through the use of the paintbrush — engaging the observer to take a closer look, to rely on their imagination to take them through a slightly sloshed time warp and make them wonder, “God only knows what that playboy whispered to give that girl a smirk like that.” The cars are stretched out and low to the ground with impressive fins and polished chrome. Everything's synonymous with cool. And that’s just the painting on the wall. Standing in SLAW’s studio space inside the Russell Industrial Center makes for an awesome, fully encompassing 3-D retro experience.
SLAW’s new to the Russell, having arrived just three months ago, after spending the last five years at The Scarab Club. “I kept hearing good things about The Russell and I know a lot of people here and you can’t beat the atmosphere — there’s a lot of camaraderie,” says SLAW, who added he’s already had the opportunity to collaborate with other R.I.C. residents.
Born and raised in Detroit and educated at the Center for Creative Studies, SLAW (proud owner of a ’67 Newport) gravitated toward the “Madcap ‘50s,” finding inspiration from “sweet bars in the basements of my relatives that looked like quintessential ‘50s martini parties were ready to start at any moment.”
Unable to successfully install a Flux Capacitor in his Newport, SLAW’s able to travel back to his favored American era via his painting. “In the late-‘50s and early-‘60s, America wasn’t quite so P.C.,” SLAW says. “Back then, style was more important, which is evident in almost anything you can think of, from cars to furniture. I mean, people put on ties to go to the movies, ya know. Danish modern furniture and the cars of the ‘50s, you can’t beat it.”
Within his mid-20th century haven, which feels like a ‘50s Tiki party taking place in Sinatra’s backyard, there’s no question that an artist is at work within this space full of art and vintage American artifact. And as for those dark wood tiki-god carvings on the wall? Yep, SLAW’s responsible for their masterful carving, too, as he sometimes collaborates with Chicago-based company Prop-Art, where SLAW not only gets to paint, but also delves into other art forms, most notably sculpture. Not one to stay still for too long, SLAW also specializes in designing restaurant interiors.
For a man who’s seemingly ready to burst with a creative blast at any given moment, it’s no wonder that SLAW comes from (and has helped create) a very artistic family. While his mother was an opera singer, his father, much like his son, was an artist. SLAW is the father of a 17-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter, both of whom he says are very creative kids who enjoy coming by his space at The Russell. “Sometimes they like to bring friends and explore the hallways, but then again who wouldn’t? You never know what you might stumble across.”
Locally, not only is SLAW’s work featured so fittingly within The Roostertail, but you can also usually see some of SLAW’s work placed on the walls of the River’s Edge Gallery in Wyandotte. Of course, you can swing by his space in Building Two of the Russell Industrial this weekend at the People’s Arts Fest, as he’ll be hosting a laidback open house. Oh, if you're wondering what this cocktail lounge lizard’s favorite concoction is: Stoli Martini, dry, up, with a twist. | RDW
Swing, daddio: myspace.com/slawville
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