This exhibition presents an extensive survey of abstract paintings from the past twenty-three years by Jim Chatelain, a key participant in Detroit’s storied Cass Corridor artistic milieu. Chatelain is a painter who subverts the conventions of painting and collapses standard notions of good taste with a beguiling body of work that is by turns crude yet sophisticated, grotesque yet elegant, concrete yet elusive, provocative and humorous.

Jim Chatelain came to prominence during the 1970s within the group of artists, poets, writers, and musicians who lived and worked in the neighborhood known as the Cass Corridor (rechristened as Midtown) around Wayne State University in Detroit, where he studied painting and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1971. The artistic achievements of the Cass Corridor community would become the focus of the exhibition Kick Out the Jams: Detroit’s Cass Corridor 1963-1977 presented at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (1980-81). In 1978, Chatelain’s figurative paintings were included in “Bad” Painting, Marcia Tucker’s influential group exhibition for the New Museum, New York. His work is in numerous private and public collections, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Flint Institute of Arts, the Cranbrook Museum of Art, and Wayne State University, and it was the subject of a major survey held at Center Galleries, College for Creative Studies, in 2003. In 2017, Chatleain exhibited in the multi-part exhibition Cass Corridor: Connecting Times, curated by Corridor artist Nancy Mitchnick, at the Simone DeSousa Gallery (now Matéria), in Midtown Detroit. A monograph of Chatelain’s figurative paintings, HELP IS ON THE WAY, was published by the Detroit-based Rotland Press this year, accompanied by a survey exhibition of those works at Paul Kotula Projects in Ferndale, MI. 

Jim Chatelain currently divides his time between metro Detroit and Delhi, NY.

This exhibition was curated by Ryan Standfest. A full-color catalog will be available with an in-depth interview with Jim Chatelain.

Related Exhibition Programming in the Oakland University Art Gallery:

October 30th at Noon: “Dealing With It: The Other Tradition in Art,” a lecture by Dan Nadel, Curator-at-Large, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles. Made possible with generous support from The Judd Family Endowed Fund

November 6th at Noon: Jim Chatelain in Conversation with Ryan Standfest