Mexican-American artist Roberto Patiño Jr surpassed his expectations with his first of many art exhibits at the Mexicantown Bakery in the heart of southwest Detroit last Saturday, May 6. With live music by Otodjo and Clarity is Death and food catered by Mama Chelas Cocina, those in attendance enjoyed the opportunity to treat their senses to the unique combination of experiences.
“Follow the scent and trust your instincts,” Patiño says excitedly. “The show is ‘Duvalín,’ named after a popular Spanish candy at the Mexicantown Bakery.”
Cinco De Mayo recently passed, and the exhibit encompassed bright and colorful artwork. “It’s not the show’s theme per se, but we are featuring up-and-coming local artists who are generally vibrant. The southwest (Detroit) community is a big part of it,” Patiño says.
While art lovers and those curious followed the sweet smell to the exhibit perfectly perched above the Mexicantown Bakery, as onlookers reached the top of the stairs, they were immediately greeted by artists Aaliyah Hepburn, known as finefoxyJellyroll and Deontae McKinstry, known as DonDeon’s influential works.
“So my inspiration comes from family photos and going through family photo albums. These two paintings are based on my grandmother’s home and are from my mother’s wedding day. I also have a random picture of my brother here,” Aaliyah laughs. “Most of my inspiration is drawn from real life past and present.”
Deontae’s work is powerful in that it is faith-based in addition to bold colors. “My work is inspired by my spiritual background. As you can see here, this painting has religious aspects to it. It’s also a reference to Jesus. I also like to take everything I do and make it Black because that’s important,” Deontae says.
Patiño has been looking forward to this event for a while. When EL CENTRAL interviewed him in February of this year, he was excited about this art exhibit concept. “I’ve been playing with the idea of having an art show at this location for a few years now, and it’s just fascinating that it’s finally happening,” Patiño says.
Patiño, an emerging artist, wanted to allow space and opportunity for other artists like himself, such as graffiti artist KCR156.
“I’m originally from New York. I moved up here (to Detroit) about five years ago. I’ve been evolving my work, doing mosaic pieces, and turning graffiti into sculptures. This is something different from what you typically see with graffiti artists,” KCR156 said.
Connery McDowell wears many hats; he is the store manager of Flamingo Vintage in Southwest Detroit, a photographer, and an artist. “Right now, I’ve been focused on infrared photography, a spectrum of light you can not see with the naked eye, but I have a camera that can pick it up. It really brings out foliage and living organisms in the pictures, which I like to contrast with the industrial nature of Detroit,” Mcdowell says. “Zug Island is a place I like to shoot, and it’s less than a mile from here (Flamingo Vintage). I’ve also been painting for about five years now.”
Art enthusiasts can be purchased directly from the artists that displayed their work Saturday. The artists mentioned in this article can be found and contacted directly on their Instagram pages as follows: Aaliyah Hepburn @finefoxyjellyroll, Deontae McKinstry @don.deon, and Connery McDowell @connerywithoutthesean.