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[Published on August 24, 2014]

In a portrait of Detroit muse Andrea Perez, Robert Sestok highlights a stoic poise with a method contrasting bold colors and textures across many submissions for the Big Paintings exhibit at The Factory of 333 Midland. Black lines amplify shadows, clothing, demeanor and tattoos but force speculation as to what inspired Sestok to create this enormous piece. The answer: body art.

When Andrea first decided to mark a revolution of body and mind, it was on a walk-in basis and she left after forty minutes with fresh ink and in a tizzy of her next tattoo. The process of conceptualizing and acquiring tattoos to cope with life’s chaos became an insatiable craving, which Andrea took great care to satisfy. Although the urge did not subside, she was keen on selecting creators based on merit, which guided her to a variety of talented individuals who have left their mark on the canvas of Andrea’s body.

Artist Alana Robbie—who relocated to Portland, Oregon—fashioned El Corazón in Chicago in honor of Andrea’s father and her Mexican heritage as the image mimicked a playing card of lotería, which is a popular game resembling bingo. Matt Lambdin was another image-maker who was fortunate to experience Andrea’s influence after studying art at College for Creative Studies. Creating a likeness of the Mexican painter was outside Lambdin’s comfort zone but after gaining Andrea’s trust with the direction of his three other tattoos, something about her tactics of eliciting exceptional work influenced an accurate yet distinct representation of Kahlo. In addition to the portrait of Kahlo, he also fashioned depictions of a pigeon, bee, and a rose compass.

Enchanting the minds of people who sharpen their inventive blades happens very naturally but the Ferndale resident's professional life entails delving into her love of books—also illustrated on her body through effervescence of hardcovers—as a facilitator of library sciences in Westland. Although she was uncertain about posing as the subject of a grand painting, it wasn’t until after she accepted Sestok’s invitation when Andrea realized the significance of participating in Detroit’s art community—the same community in which Sestok has remained an admirable proponent.

As his time is not exhausted on working with his fascinating muse, Sestok has been developing City Sculpture, which will comprise a retrospective of his work on Alexandrine near the Lodge Freeway. When he spoke of his plans for the sculpture park, permanency resonated brilliantly and justifiably for an artist who has witnessed and participated in a broad scope of transitions in Detroit. During our conversation, the idea of a larger than life sculpture of Andrea arose, to which Sestok’s energy shifted with excitement beneath his opaque lenses. It completely verified Andrea’s power as a creative provocateur.

[Published on August 12, 2014]

It could hardly be believed the Russell Industrial Center’s Gallery 17 served as the first venue in which Mission Detroit Photography exhibited its work publicly since establishing its ideation about a year and a half ago. The origins of this dynamic duo began after Don Davenport, Mission Detroit’s founding counterpart, played drums for Helios Axys. During his days with the band, Terri Zyskowski, a former Axys fan and founding entity of Mission Detroit, frequented venues with an ex who was associated with the band. As time moved on and relationships changed, Zyskowski found herself sifting through JPG Magazine and found “Tools of the Trade”—an image Davenport captured of his drum set. This sparked a sort of breadcrumb trail, which led Zyskowski and Davenport to each other to forge an organically productive relationship.

The framework of adventure and appreciation of life fueled their bond, which was elemental on the countless trips upon which they embarked for the sake of capturing their observations with their respective lenses. Their growth culminated to form Mission Detroit Photography, a partnership of image making, in March 2013. Since then, their routines of road tripping, drifting in different directions, and joining photographic forces have progressed swimmingly. Fourth of July weekend proved solidified their growth with elegance of the sun, sea and sand at Big Sable Lighthouse—a destination the dynamic duo had their eyes set on for quite some time. One particular image was printed on metal, which heightened the emotions elicited upon gazing at the marvelous scene and reiterated the constantly evolving status of Mission Detroit.

The range of subjects and quality of work depicted sophistication in craft not unlike Mission Detroit’s newest collaborator Jaiden of Sweet Pea Images. The precocious young lady began exercising her creativity when granddaughter Zyskowski gave Jaiden a camera, which incited an ease a true artist achieves with her/his weapon of choice. Not only has Jaiden unwaveringly honed her talent, she also administers her counsel on Mission Detroit’s executive decisions—a contribution the duo embraces with equal reverence to Jaiden’s youthfulness.

While Mission Detroit’s expansion has tirelessly grown, so too have Davenport’s appreciation for structure and composition, Zyskowski’s wondrous intuition and exceedingly keen eye for liveliness, as well as Jaiden’s steadfast productivity. Spectators and fans of the Mission eagerly await forthcoming endeavors of this bourgeoning partnership. To learn more and stay updated, get on board and keep eyes open for the Mission.

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