Detroit artist Charles McGee debuts new mural alongside exhibition

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  • Ray Manning
  • Detroit artist Charles McGee.

Hunched over a walker, Charles McGee scoots around the ground floor of 1505 Woodward Avenue, overseeing the installation of his new artist exhibition ahead of its June 1 opening reception. It’s a large body of work by the 92-year-old artist, including paintings, drawings, and sculptures. But don’t call it a retrospective.

That’s partially because the exhibition focuses mainly on McGee’s work from the 1980s through the present — a mere fraction of his career, which has spanned 70 years. But it’s also safe to say that McGee doesn’t view time the way the rest of us might. Where other artists might separate their work into different periods, McGee’s work defies such simple characterization — almost as if he is constantly remixing himself.

“It ranges from all these 92 years,” he says. “I don’t decide, ‘I’m going to this.’ It comes out of the experience.” He points down Woodward Avenue, where the old J. L. Hudson Department Store used to stand. “That was where everybody, regardless of where you lived in Detroit, you could go there and get anything you wanted. Twelve floors of it. I…

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