Late Detroit artist featured at BBAC

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 5, 2019

 Mary Ann Aitken, an artist with roots in the Cass Corridor of Detroit, created this  untitled piece that will be featured in her posthumous solo exhibition at  the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center.

Mary Ann Aitken, an artist with roots in the Cass Corridor of Detroit, created this untitled piece that will be featured in her posthumous solo exhibition at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center.

Image provided by Hope Brown, PublicCity Public Relations

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BIRMINGHAM — Nothing could ever keep artist Mary Ann Aitken from sharing her observant, unique soul with the world, and helping others to do the same. Not even death.

Her spirit is indomitable.

Guests can see for themselves through April 18 at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center during a special exhibition of the Detroit native’s work. “Mary Ann Aitken: Indomitable Spirit” opens this Friday, featuring her signature impasto-style paintings and drawings.

Aitken was a major figure in the Cass Corridor art scene in the 1980s, and she shared her talent through art therapy in the decades that followed. She exhibited her work around the state, as well as in New York and Berlin. She died in Brooklyn in 2012.

“We are so excited to showcase this important body of work by a Cass Corridor artist,” Annie VanGelderen, BBAC president and CEO said in a press release.  “Aitken’s work demonstrates the rawness and emotional underpinnings of a lifelong artist and art therapist.”

Local artist Ed Fraga, winner of the 2009 Kresge Arts in Detroit fellowship for visual arts, was a longtime friend of Aitken’s. He said that she asked him to manage the collection of her art when she was gone.

“Mary Ann’s art reflects the honesty by which she lived. She painted her surroundings with a depth of feeling rarely seen, and will be remembered for her art as she will for the generosity of her spirit,” Fraga said in an email.

Aitken’s work is included in the collections of Wayne State University, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Flint Institute of Arts and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“For Mary Ann, painting was her expression, her therapy and her joy. I know she would be thrilled to see people coming to view her work, especially those from her favorite city,” her sister, author Maureen Aitken, said in an email.

“Indomitable Spirit” is free and open to the public during the BBAC’s regular operating hours. For more information, visit BBArt Center.org.

The Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center is located at 1516 S. Cranbrook Road in Birmingham.

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