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Detroit Artist and Dad SLAW Mixes Up Retro Art and Fatherhood

With swank mid-century flair, this southeast Michigan guy has a cool-cat, down-to-earth style – and two pretty creative young adult kids, too

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SLAW's Faves

"Everyone thinks that you should be a parent, not a friend," SLAW says. "But at this point, I feel I can do both."

SLAW's entrance into the art world didn't happen at once.

After graduating in the mid-'80s from CCS, he joined the corporate workforce. He did some advertising work before taking a job with Ford Motor Co. as a design engineer. He realized it wasn't for him and switched gears.

About 13 years ago, not long after he and his wife divorced, he started showcasing his work at the Johanson Charles Gallery in Detroit's Eastern Market, followed by shows at the Scarab Club and other venues. SLAW also began to do cover art for a then-fledgling alternative publication called Real Detroit Weekly. From then on, he received more recognition.

"I'll come up with ideas sometimes in the middle of the night," he says. "I'll do the research, come up with a sketch. I never work without a sketch idea."

He paints with acrylic because it "has a whole different set of principles" and likes to use it to create a flat, even-toned image.

Even though his work can now fetch thousands of dollars, it's not always a consistent paycheck. But that's all right, because "an artist should always be hungry. It's how we thrive and create great work," he says.

In that regard, the Detroit art scene is alive and well.

"It's interesting because if you go out to L.A., every waiter is an actor," he says. "In Detroit, just about every waiter or waitress is an artist."

SLAW has hosted about five shows at Wyandotte's River's Edge Gallery. In 2011, he was commissioned by the Wyandotte Street Art Fair committee to create a special rendition of the fair's mascot, Art, for the event's 50th anniversary.

"I'm their adopted art son. I've been welcomed by the Wyandotte community," he says. "It's an old Polish community and I'm an old Polack. It's very community-oriented."

His June/July 2013 show at River's Edge features paintings of TV classics such as The Brady Bunch, The Addams Family, I Dream of Jeannie and Gilligan's Island, among others.

"It's my TV show show," SLAW says. "In the generation I come from, we were raised with the TV. I grew up in its heyday."

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