PLAYGROUND DETROIT presents Emergency Nothing, a group exhibition at Culturefix Gallery in the Lower East Side. The exhibit will feature emerging artists from Detroit curated by the founders of Haute to Death. An opening reception will take place on Thursday February 20th, 2014 from 6pm-12am at 9 Clinton Street. Gallery hours and bar are open daily through March 2nd.



NEW YORK, NY 10002

Emergency Nothing seeks to visually articulate the multifarious character of Detroit’s most-beloved and notorious monthly party, Haute to Death, popular with Detroit’s creative, thrill-seeking bon vivants. The exhibition features artworks from Haute to Death’s co-founders Jon Dones and Ash Nowak and Detroit artists Davin Brainard, Eugene-Carland, Vaughn Taormina, Cristin Richard, Alison Wong, Mariam Ezzat, Andy Gabrysiak and John Maggie. The Haute to Death ethos is contrast: equals and opposites. Haute couture is the highest level of glamour, adornment and frivolousness, and death is inescapable. Artists and Haute to Death co-founders describe the monthly evening as “a dive bar turned discotheque, the shimmer of sequins and broken glass, the champagne pop and living the High Life.”

Each artist in the exhibit contributes to unveil the emotional layers and unique environment in Detroit creating a backdrop to endeavors happening there. Dones’ and Nowak’s works in photography, painting, and LP cover appropriation are artifacts that convey Haute to Death’s narrative, while accompanying works by their Detroit peers provide a fuller, abstracted level of insight of artists working currently in Detroit. Both Brainard and Eugene-Carland works explore party iconography in a way that is familiar to many, but are specific to the Haute to Death series. Cristin Richard’s series of delicate collages are steeped in ominous metaphors for the human condition as she creates work in a dehumanized city; the Trifle series feel like the dark inner psyche of the city. Similar inspiration can be found in Vaughn Taormina’s series of light box paintings, his backlit collages feature Detroit’s iconography and paradoxical narrative by incorporating the grandiose faux pas with loneliness.

Jon Dones’ collection of photographs have been taken during the last six years of Haute to Death parties, portraying the freedom and youthful spirit within their enclave; his selection of signature record cover re-design posters infuse the exhibit with iconic Pop culture. Miriam Ezzat’s multi-media work pays tribute to people and places involved, elevating partygoers into sainthood and enshrining the long-standing home of Temple Bar. Collectively the chosen artists’ work can be seen as an insight into Detroit and some of its artists within a like-minded creative social circle. The world is aware of Detroit’s troubled history; national media coverage focuses on negative reports that highlight the city’s many systemic and institutional failures. For the city to move forward as a renewed American center of ingenuity, it must claim the cultural validity it deserves.

The true spirit of Detroit can begin to be understood through its individuals: their personalities, their passions, their motivations and stories. PLAYGROUND DETROIT recognizes the co-founders of Haute to Death and their artist peers as a collective seminal voice that can represent the character of creativity in Detroit. Emergency Nothing echoes this sentiment by suggesting alertness for nothing in particular except a deep desire for the possibilities that can emerge from the city.


Jon Dones
Jon Dones’ work has explored many realms of the art and creative business worlds. His artistic practice can best be understood through his fascination with narrative, temporality, and collective effervescence as well as Conceptual Modern art. His mediums includes photography, films, neon, sound, design, installation and happenings he seeks to instill his works with a sensibility for equals and opposites manifested through honesty, wit, gravity and often humor. Dones is College for Creative Studies graduate in Detroit where he studied photography and cultural semiotics. After spending time living in New York City, Dones’ return to Detroit has had the greatest impact on his perspective and empathic approach to how and why art should intersect with and affect culture.

Ash Nowak
Ash Nowak is a fine artist whose work focuses on painting, small sculpture and the concept of glamour in extremes. In addition to her work as an artist, she is co-founder of Haute to Death and known DJ based in Detroit. Nowak received her BFA at College for Creative Studies in Painting. Her work has been featured in various exhibits in Detroit including the Good Wood show, a fundraiser featuring artwork on skate decks with proceeds donated to the Ride It Sculpture Park in Detroit.

Vaughn Taormina
Vaughn Taormina hails from Detroit, which is often reflected in his chosen images as he sees beauty in aspects of its sheer vacancy. Detroit’s skyline and grit were featured in his thesis show upon graduating from Cooper Union, New York with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2011. He recently was granted a Red Bull House of Art’s residency in Eastern Market, Detroit, where he began his most recent series of light boxes. He also continues to paint large scale for murals and installations such as Detroit’s renowned Fashion Avenue and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

Alison Wong
Wild animals raised Alison Wong; she eats with her hands and howls at the moon. After emerging from the woods, she moved on to earn her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and is the Founder and Director of Butter Projects. Romance, relationships, platonic love, familial love, adolescent love, and especially romantic love are the central concepts in Alison Wong’s work.

Mariam Ezzat
Mariam Ezzat is an artist interested in nostalgia. Her work develops around the inherent sentiment of objects. She romanticizes the history of objects, whether given as a gift or collected second hand. The emotion imbued in an object’s history becomes a fundamental element of how it is considered and processed to create the work. Mariam lives in Detroit, Michigan.

Cristin Richard
Cristin Richard is part of the movement of artists whose work is related to the body and identity. Particularly interested in the manipulation of organic matter, these materials build a dialogue of what it feels like to be human. Born in 1981 in Detroit, MI, USA, where she currently lives and works, she studied at College For Creative Studies School of Art & Design, Detroit, (BFA 2003). Richard has taken part in numerous exhibitions in the US and Europe where she has received recognition for her work.

Eugene-Carland is an alias of two people: Michael Eugene Burdick and James Carland Noellert. They are both illustrators that live and work in Detroit whose work ranges from painting whimsical model airplanes to designing logos for small businesses.

Davin Brainard
Davin Brainard (B. 1969, Detroit) has been performing and exhibiting art for over 20 years. He has shown his simple and direct paintings, drawings and videos in galleries and museums in Japan, Holland, and across the US. Using a knife with spray paint, Davin makes colorful paintings seemingly innocent and cute, but often contain dark hidden meanings. He is also a poster artist whose work has represented gigs and bands in Detroit at iconic institutions such as UFO Factory and the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design.

Andy Gabrysiak
Andy Gabrysiak was born at Bertrand Goldberg’s influential modernist landmark, Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. He currently works in Detroit as an illustrator and graphic designer who has also self-published zines, comics and experimental printed matter.

John Maggie
John Maggie is a Detroit artist. Primarily an oil painter, he has also self-published various lurid flip books, comic books and a pop up book.

For all press, exhibition and other inquiries please contact Paulina Petkoski at paulina@playgrounddetroit.com //

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