Exhibit explores ‘Just Desserts’

By: Mike Koury | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published October 29, 2015

 Renee Spears, of Newport, left, and Sue Majewski, of St. Clair Shores, look at work by Tyszka.

Renee Spears, of Newport, left, and Sue Majewski, of St. Clair Shores, look at work by Tyszka.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


WEST BLOOMFIELD — From Sunday, Oct. 25, to Thursday, Dec. 10, the Janice Charach Gallery will be decorated with colorful mosaic artwork that holds a deeper meaning.

The exhibition, titled “Just Desserts,” features a collection by three Michigan-native artists from around the state, using desserts to describe their feelings on today’s society. More than 60 pieces are on display. 

One artist is Detroit native Darcel Deneau, a professional artist for the past 13 years. She said she was working on an ArtPrize project with her partners, Joan Schwartz and Ruth Tyszka, when they came up with the idea for the dessert project.

The theme can take on several different meanings. Tyszka said it can show that sometimes a dessert might not give everything it promises, or it can show how people use desserts to treat others or themselves.

Deneau said the meaning of the title “Just Desserts” also plays on the word “just,” asking observers whether or not the scene the art is depicting is “just or unjust.”

“(It’s) maybe not answering a question for the viewer, but creating a question for them,” she said.

One such installation, by Tyszka, is about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which 20 children and six teachers were shot and killed.

The piece, called “Quo Vadis” — a Latin term meaning “where are you going?” — features 20 small chairs to signify each child who was gunned down, a mosaic cake with eight toy guns atop it, and seven red mosaic balloons symbolizing the seven adults killed in the shooting.

“After watching it on the news for so long right after it happened, I really wanted to do something that’s physical and visual to me,” she said. “It came from my frustration over the whole thing.

“I feel like these are events that repeat themselves, and my frustration is that nothing changes. I feel like my frustration with that drove the piece, and my hope for the piece, and what I wanted it to do for myself was to make the scale of that loss physical.”

The role of guns has a recurring theme in some of the pieces in the show. The topic has a personal attachment for Deneau, as both of her parents were shot in the head 18 years ago. Her father died in the shooting, which remains unsolved, according to Deneau.

To reflect her feelings on the matter, she constructed mosaic cake heads that have multiple bullets in them.

“I kind of wanted to touch a little bit on the bullet without it being too much in your face,” she said. “I didn’t want to kind of exploit the idea having a tragedy in my family — that that’s why I’m making a work — but I have strong feelings about the gun control issues going on right now.”

The Janice Charach Gallery is open noon-4 p.m. Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays, and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursdays. The gallery is located at 6600 W. Maple Road in West Bloomfield.