Archive for September, 2014

Gilda Snowden 1954-2014

September 30, 2014
From a 1990 Exhibit at the Detroit Institute if Arts

From a 1990 Exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts

We lost another important Detroit artist earlier this month.  Gilda Snowden died unexpectedly.  I would have attended her funeral, but I didn’t find out about it in time.  I’ll pay my respects here instead.

I first met Gilda Snowden in the late 1970’s.  We were around the same age and both “new artists” at the same time.  She studied painting at Wayne State University.  I was self-taught.  I never got to know her well, but it was always great to see her.  I had a lot of respect for her and her work.

In a September 14 Detroit Free Press article, artist Mary Fortuna, said “She was the opposite of competitive. … Whoever you were, you could count on Gilda to show kindness, generosity, advice and support.”  I always got the same sense.

She was one of Detroit’s best known and most successful artists.  She had many articles written about her and reviews of her shows.  She had a lot of exhibitions and even some commissions and awards.

In 1990, the Detroit Institute of Arts was experimenting with paying attention to Michigan artists.  This was MAP, the Michigan Artists Program.  Gilda was part of this.  In September into November, she was shown there in a show with Michael Luchs called Signature Images.  She had her share of attention and applause.  She has work in the permanent collection of the DIA and has been in their publications.

Despite this, she always kept her “common touch.”  If you were some sort of true artist then you’re part of the same group or tribe.  Maybe it’s because we came up together.  She was a person who inspired some solidarity or esprit de corps.  There are a handful of Detroit artists of whom I could say this as well.  We’re all in this together, “in the trenches” and fighting for art and for Detroit art.

Tornado, 1993

Tornado, 1993

First,  she had a good work ethic.  Gilda was always making stuff, usually paintings.  She really got into photography too.  In recent years, I’d always see her at art openings, shooting.  Sometimes she’d shoot video too.

In her last week, she shot nearly 400 photos and put them up on her facebook page.  These were of an art opening at ReView Detroit and the Dally in the Alley.

Second, she was a teacher and mentor.  I’m sure that she did some good work in her job as instructor at the College for Creative Studies.  Since 1987, she’s been gallery director for art shows at the Detroit Repertory Theatre.

The challenge is always to rise above your immediate and obvious interests, to go for something higher.  Too often, people are so caught up in promoting their own work that they don’t embrace and interact with the larger group.  There’s more than just yourself and your friends.  Try not get overly caught up in your own clique.  I think that Gilda succeeded in this and was more than just an artist, a teacher and a curator/gallery director.  Yes.

Third, as I mentioned, she was one of us.  She lived as a committed and dedicated member of the Detroit art community.  We’ll miss her.

From a show at the Zeitgeist

From a show at the Zeitgeist in 2007, curated by Gilda Snowden.


Her Website:

Gilda Snowden, 1990

Gilda Snowden, 1990

There’s a tribute exhibit opening at CCS:

this Saturday GILDA!
October 4 – 25, 2014
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 4, 6 – 9 p.m. A Tribute Moment @ 8 p.m.

In tribute to CCS’s and Detroit’s beloved art guru Gilda Snowden (1954-2014), Center Galleries is honored to present a gathering of her recent works to celebrate and honor this most amazing artist, woman, teacher, mentor, worker, friend, wife and mother.

— In Alumni & Faculty Hall: Roots & Branches: The 50th Anniversary of the Detroit Artists Workshop: