Legendary Artist Mike Giant to Exhibit New Works Alongside Detroiter Jesse Kassel

Graffiti, Skateboarding, Tattoos & Stolen Cars To Be Celebrated November 11th


Opening Friday, November 11th at Inner State Gallery, artist Mike Giant unveils Impermanent Vacation an entirely new body of work which includes his largest piece to date. The Colorado-based artist, illustrator and counter culture icon will showcase new works on vintage paper, letterheads and more for his first ever Detroit exhibition.

Joining Giant at Inner State will be Detroit artist Jesse Kassel, who exhibits a new collection of mixed media pieces Bandos & Stolos highlighting abandoned and stolen cars frozen in time. Both shows are free and open to the public from 7pm - 10pm on Friday, November 11th.

"I see my life as a human being as an ‘Impermanent Vacation.’ It is our nature to grow old and die. It doesn't last. As a gentle reminder of my own mortality, I have the same words tattooed on my hands. The tattoos are a reminder to have fun with life, to keep a positive mental attitude, to treat it like a vacation. I also think about those who wish to end my vacation, namely law enforcement. The pieces in the show were produced with these themes in mind.  Uplifting and optimistic on the one side, critical and confrontational on the other,” Giant said from his Colorado studio.

Featuring dozens of new works on paper, Impermanent Vacation focuses on Giant’s tirelessly refined linework style and laser sharp eye for detail. Equally lauded in the worlds of graffiti, tattoo and skate culture, Giant’s immediately recognizable style has been shown around the world and though it is often imitated, is never duplicated as he continues to push his work forward with unparalleled consistency achieved with only a Sharpie.

“This will be my first solo show in Detroit, and my first time visiting The Motor City. The works in the show are illustrations on antique letterheads and fine drawing paper of various sizes, including my largest illustration I've produced to date. As usual, all the works were rendered with Sharpie markers, my tool of choice since high school," Giant added.

Bringing new work of his own, Detroit’s own Jesse Kassel turns his attention to “Bandos” (typically used to describe abandoned homes but in this case also vehicles) and “Stolos” (stolen cars), two elements that are embedded in the Detroit landscape of empty lots and vacant buildings. These cars, old and new, symbolize a core element of American history that Kassel captures with a fluid and evolving style all his own, blending acrylic and collage.

“The skeleton of a 1940 Buick Roadmaster rusting in an overgrown field next to a group of stripped and torched 2015 Ford trucks. A building full of prized classic cars being crushed by a collapsing roof. For me experiencing these visions first hand is essential to fully appreciating the sense of beauty and story behind how such places have become what they are. However, for this body of work I have interpreted these scenes pulling from the texture, colors and compositions that dominate them,” Kassell said from his Southwest Detroit studio.

Much of Kassel’s work relies on memory (though he works from some reference photos) as he concentrates closely on entropy and recreating an overall feeling when visiting these car graveyards, working to capture specific sensations that aren’t always as apparent in photographs.

“My goal is to create a sense of movement that isn’t going anywhere, as these cars and buildings have been sitting in the same place for months, or years, but they are constantly being altered by nature and humans. I like to visualize the cars as is if I were able to see their evolution through time lapse footage. From the point they were dropped there and have been stripped, burned, rusted, overgrown with vegetation or whatever and the painting is where the film has stopped,” Kassell added.

Please join us for our opening artist reception from 7-10pm as we welcome both artists in attendance. This event is free and open to the public.

To join the advanced collector’s preview, hi resolution images or interview requests email info@innerstategallery.com or call (313) 744-6505.


About Mike Giant:

Born in 1971 in upstate New York, artist Mike Giant began drawing as soon as he could hold a crayon. His family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1979 where he was immersed in BMX bikes, skateboarding, heavy metal, punk rock, hip-hop and gang violence. He graduated in the top 10% of his high school class and attended the University of New Mexico (UNM) on scholarship as an architecture major. He began writing graffiti under the name “Giant” just before starting college and got his first tattoo soon after. In 1993 he was offered a full-time job drawing graphics for Think Skateboards in San Francisco and decided to leave UNM without a degree. After four years at Think, he lived in London briefly, then returned to San Francisco to work in animation. In 1998, Giant was offered an apprenticeship in tattooing by Nalla Smith. He began tattooing full-time a year or so later, and worked in legendary shops like East Side Ink, Newskool and Everlasting. Giant made tattoos full-time for a decade before switching his attention to REBEL8, a clothing brand he founded with his old friend Joshy D in 2003. Then, after 20 years in California, Mike moved to Boulder, Colorado where he currently lives and works.

About Jesse Kassel:

Budding from a long family history of visual artists, it was natural for Jesse Kassel to follow suit. In 2010 he earned a BFA with a focus in illustration and has since been exploring various creative outlets. Drawing inspiration from vintage advertisements and graphic design coupled with the rich cultural context and aging city façade, Kassel’s work is an Americana-tinged portrayal of the leisure seeking working class. His paintings of alcohol and tobacco products reflect social celebrations as well as the consequential dependency and grief of substance abuse. Using salvaged wood, household paint and twine, Kassel assembles his work with materials reminiscent of rural craft fair debris. His work has been featured at exhibitions both locally and around the world.

About Inner State:

Inner State Gallery is Detroit’s premier art gallery for established and emerging artists, from Detroit and across the globe.  Relocating to Eastern Market in 2013, Inner State Gallery has exhibited the work of local artists Glenn Barr, Camilo Pardo and Ron Zakrin as well as international street artists Nychos, Askew, Ben Frost and Meggs. The 10,000 square foot building is home to two exhibition spaces, an artist residency program, a print studio and the gallery's publishing company 1xRUN.


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