Monthly Archives: August 2010

Mitsie’s Memories: Muhammad Ali Center Featuring the Art of Simon Bull

A special group of Detroit-area young women and men enjoyed the once-in-a-lifetime experience of meeting Muhammad Ali in person, thanks to an educational program sponsored by the Park West Foundation, in association with Park West Gallery. Park West Gallery founder Albert Scaglione and his wife Mitsie accompanied the young Detroiters to Louisville to visit with the international boxing legend at the city’s acclaimed Muhammad Ali Center.

Albert Scaglione, Mitsie Scaglione, Park West Gallery, Park West Foundation, Muhammad Ali CenterPark West Gallery CEO Albert Scaglione and his wife Mitsie enjoying an artwork installation at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville.
Photo ©Park West Gallery, 2010

~ Written by Mitsie Scaglione ~

Our visit to the Muhammad Ali Museum in Louisville, Kentucky was multi-faceted. I have so many wonderful memories of that trip, some highlights of which were:

1. Touring the Museum—a tribute not only to Muhammad Ali’s career but also to his life.

2. Seeing the installation by artist Simon Bull—his creative depictions of Ali capture the man and his emotions.

3. Bringing eleven of our foster girls and boys from our Park West Foundation in Detroit to the museum, where they had the opportunity to learn about Ali’s life, from his humble beginnings to the present.

Mitsie Scaglione, Muhammad Ali, Park West Gallery, Park West FoundationMitsie Scaglione shows off her boxing skills at the Muhammad Ali Center.
Photo ©Park West Gallery, 2010

Ali’s delightful wife, Lonnie, accompanied us as the spokeswoman for her husband. Due to Muhammad Ali’s health issues, we weren’t sure if he would be able to visit with us at the museum. I recall that the Park West group was standing around admiring Simon Bull’s paintings of Ali, when a coordinator from the Museum approached us.

Simon Bull, Muhammad Ali, Park West Gallery, Park West FoundationArtist Simon Bull stands in front of a series of his paintings depicting Muhammad Ali, all of which are on permanent display at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville and are exclusively available for purchase from Park West Gallery.
Photo ©Park West Gallery, 2010

The guide informed us that Mr. Ali would be with our group shortly. As I reflect back, I realize it was a large feat for Ali to make such an exception to be with us. Our boys and girls were thrilled! One of our foster girls had her baby with her and Ali asked if he could hold it. Lonnie expressed to us how much her husband loves children. From the picture below you can see that was evident.

Park West Gallery, Park West Foundation, Albert and Mitsie Scaglione, Muhammad Ali, Simon BullThe late youth mentor and anti-violence activist Weusi Olusola, artist Simon Bull, Albert and Mitsie Scaglione along with Park West Foundation youths visit with The Champ, Muhammad Ali. Photo ©Park West Gallery, 2010

After our visit to the Museum, Lonnie invited us for a visit to their home. As you can see from the photo, Simon Bull’s dynamic paintings have a prominent spot hanging on their walls.

Albert Scaglione, Mitsie Scaglione, Simon Bull, Park West Gallery, Park West Foundation, Muhammad AliAlbert and Mitsie Scaglione and artist Simon Bull visit with Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie at their home in Louisville. Photo ©Park West Gallery, 2010

Our Park West Foundation will always be eternally thankful for the inspiring visit to the Muhammad Ali Center and to Ali himself for being there for our girls and boys. The visit continues to have a great impact on all of our lives.

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The Simon Bull Collection of Muhammad Ali artwork is available for purchase exclusively through Park West Gallery and our cruise art auctions at sea. Please visit for more information.



Park West CARES Initiative Extends Donations

Nicky Yanke, Mitsie Scaglione, Park West CARES, Park West Gallery, Covenant HouseNicky Yanke, Park West Gallery HR Director, and Mitsie Scaglione, wife of Park West Gallery CEO Albert Scaglione, help load items donated by Park West CARES to Covenant House Michigan on August 27, 2010.

Covenant House of Michigan was the sixth nonprofit organization to receive a generous donation of summer clothing items from Park West Gallery’s philanthropic initiative, Park West CARES. Approximately 300 articles were given to CHM on August 27, 2010 at Park West Gallery in Southfield.

Launched in July, Park West CARES has already donated items to five other local organizations, including Grace Centers of Hope, Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Detroit Rescue Mission, HAVEN of Oakland County and Vista Maria.  All are slated to receive subsequent donations, as are new organizations in both the Detroit and Miami, Florida metro areas.

Due to its success, Park West Gallery will be extending Park West CARES through December. “Park West CARES has received such an overwhelmingly positive response that we decided to continue the donations through the remainder of the year,” said Albert Scaglione, CEO of Park West Gallery. “All of the organizations chosen to receive these items provide such a valuable service, and we are honored to be able to help them and our community in this way.”

Upcoming Park West CARES donations will include Counterpoint Crisis Shelter and Genesis One Transitional Youth Center.

About Covenant House Michigan
Covenant House Michigan is a faith-based nonprofit organization that provides hope to homeless, runaway and at-risk youth ages 13-22. They provide shelter, educational and vocational programs, as well as other support services, to help overcome hurdles such as homelessness, unemployment, inadequate education, violence, drugs and gangs. Their goal is to redirect them onto a path toward meaningful and successful adulthood.

CHM has come to be known by Detroit area young people as a place they can go to build a better future and be treated with respect and unconditional love. Over 35,069 youth have been served by CHM since its inception in September 1997.

To learn more about CHM, please visit

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Do you know of a local charity or nonprofit in need of summer clothing items? Park West CARES will be continuing its donation efforts through December, so please leave a comment with your suggestions!

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Ask Us! Join Park West Gallery for ‘Ask a Curator Day’

Ask a Curator Day, Twitter, Park West Gallery

On Wednesday, September 1, 2010, join Park West Gallery @ParkWestGal on Twitter for Ask a Curator Day! This is your opportunity to ask Park West Gallery Director Morris Shapiro anything and everything—well, almost—the questions do have to be art-related. 

Here are some suggestions to help you brainstorm:

  • What is your favorite work of art, and why?
  • How does someone interested in art become a gallery director?
  • What criteria do you consider when deciding whether to represent a new artist’s works? 

Museums and galleries from all over the world will be participating in Ask a Curator Day.

How to get involved:

  1. Simply join/log-in to Twitter on September 1.
  2. Follow Park West Gallery @ParkWestGal.
  3. Tweet us your art questions. And be sure to include the #askacurator hashtag so everyone else can following along in the discussion.

View the entire list of all participating cultural venues here, or for more information, visit

Tweet you on September 1!


Park West Gallery Kinkade Sale – Last Chance to Save!

Park West Gallery, Thomas Kinkade Sale, fine art prints

You can vote for your favorite Kinkade once per day, so visit daily! Park West Gallery will choose one winner every Friday!
Visit for details.

This week only, collect Bridge of Faith for just $99.99, a savings of 55% off our normal price.
Hurry, offer ends August 26th!

Collect any 4 Kinkade works – Only $900*
Collect any 10 Kinkade works – Only $1,750*
*Unframed prices. Shipping charges will apply.

For more information, visit


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Park West CARES Gives to Vista Maria

Park West Gallery, Park West CARES, Vista MariaPark West Gallery volunteers load a truck with clothing being given to Vista Maria.

For a fifth consecutive week, the Park West Gallery summer initiative, Park West CARES, made a major donation of items last Friday. Close to 1,000 articles of clothing were given to Vista Maria on August 20. Throughout the summer months of July and August, Park West CARES has donated clothing to a number of non-profit organizations and plans to extend the summer initiative into the fall. Upcoming donations include Covenant House, Counterpoint Crisis Shelter and Genesis One Transitional Youth Center.

About Vista Maria
Vista Maria’s mission is to heal Michigan’s victimized girls and women with best-practice treatment programs designed to meet their unique needs while serving other vulnerable children and families within Southeast Michigan. Vista Maria’s success is based on the philosophy of Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier, who founded the Sisters of the Good Shepherd – the community of women who founded Vista Maria. Her compassion, empathy, and interest in helping marginalized women and children evolved out of her own experience as a troubled adolescent. Therapy at Vista Maria is designed around each girl’s individual experiences and needs. This encompasses a variety of activities that address the physical, spiritual, intellectual, and recreational well-being of the girls. For more information, please visit

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Csaba Markus, Aesthetic Olympian

Csaba Markus, Park West Gallery Csaba Markus “Veritas” (2006) | Park West Gallery Collection

~Written by Morris Shapiro, Park West Gallery Director~

In the contemporary world of art a battle is currently raging. As the 20th Century clicked over to the 21st, it provided a convenient demarcation point for this struggle, but it has really been ongoing for at least 90 years. The conflict is about the search by artists of our time for the fundamentals of aesthetics which have long ago been “thrown under the bus.”

The word, “aesthetic” is derived from the Greek word, “aesthesis,” which means “perception with feeling,” and in so simple a joining of two phenomena, the entire history of western art criticism has rested. Perception of course deals with the sensorial response to art: what we perceive and experience through our limited senses as we take in what exists before us for contemplation. Feeling, results in what we take from that contemplation and from whatever “information” our senses provide. That is, how the information affects the perspective we bring to the contemplation of an artwork. That perspective is made up of our emotions, our experiences, our education, our dispositions, our passions, our prejudices and the myriad other qualities that define who we are each individually.

All through the storied evolution of aesthetic philosophy two halves have formed the whole of the aesthetic experience. They are the “yin and yang” of art and their measure must each be taken to develop a true analysis of any work of art in any medium. “Form” is the physical body, the manifestation in concrete reality of the work of art before us. In the visual arts (for which we will confine our discussion here) form may include the medium employed, the size or format of the work, the use of line, color, texture, contrast, the composition of the work, or any number of other “physical’ attributes. “Content,” on the other hand, is what the work of art is communicating to us as we experience it during contemplation. All art has something to communicate, even if the communication is about the absence of communication.

In 1917, when French artist Marcel Duchamp created the first “Readymade” by signing with a fictitious name an inverted urinal and titling it Fountain, the true iconoclastic struggle of aesthetic “life and death” began. By proclaiming that something was art, because the artist claimed it to be, the aesthetic experience was transformed into a kind of  artistic narcissism, a constant contextual rumination by art asking itself, “Am I art, or am I not art?” 

For nearly one hundred years now, artists, historians, museums, art educational institutions, galleries, auction houses and collectors have embraced and legitimized these types of artistic creations and conceptualizations. It serves no purpose here to dwell on the embodiment of these “artworks.” We are all familiar with the dirty ashtrays, the sharks in formaldehyde, the crucifixes in urine, the Plexiglas boxes of trash and the thousands of other manifestations of what author Donald Kuspit in his book, The End of Art (2004, Cambridge University Press),  has aptly named, “postart.”

“Post-artworks” have been included in exhibitions with great fanfare and have fetched in the auction and gallery markets dramatically high prices, especially when compared to works by artistic masters of the past. To some extent, these “works” have been derided and ridiculed in the popular press and have caused their fair share of controversy, but essentially they have continued to flourish unimpeded in their own elitist milieu, where they focus on lifting up those things which were once considered banal, meager, ordinary and even repulsive into the highest realms of  “Fine Art.”

Csaba Markus, Park West GalleryCsaba Markus “Dance and Conquest” (2008) | Park West Gallery Collection

The Pendulum
A comprehensive investigation into the history of art ultimately reveals that if only one thing can be counted on, it is that artists (and consequently their creations) will react strongly to the art of their time. Often this reaction will be in the form of pushing back against the grain of the accepted art of the times, i.e. the art that is seen as respected, legitimate, important, and valid. 

Even deeper investigation will often reveal that the polar opposites that drive the pendulum of art history from one side to the other are grounded in the artistic ideals found in form and content and these in turn can be seen as the overarching characteristics of the pendulum’s extreme positions. A good example of this can be found in the distinction between classical art, which is grounded in the principles of purity and adherence to nature’s forms, and romantic art, which is about imagination, myth, and mannerism. Again, this is not the appropriate place for a long discussion of these historical observations, but suffice it to say that the difference between Caravaggio (classical) and El Greco (romantic), is a good example. These artists existed in nearly the same time and yet Caravaggio, by embracing the notion of a kind of painting that was focused on a depiction of true reality (right down to the dirt under the fingernails of the subject), created a new form of art in direct opposition to El Greco’s flamboyant and mystical interpretations of another world that existed beyond the tangible one.

“So what does any of this have to do with Csaba Markus?” you might ask. Well, I have had the good fortune to have many discussions with Csaba about these very subjects. And Csaba is a true student of art history. Just by looking at his art one assumes this. And like every great artist I have met (and the great ones from the past that I have only read about), being well steeped in the history of art, and understanding their place in its context, is of paramount concern to them.

I am fortunate to have a life immersed in art. It surrounds me every day. I research it, buy it, sell it, talk to people about it, and teach others to speak of it. I hear the questions, comments and concerns of collectors, both novice and seasoned. And when I speak of these contemporary issues, of art which causes the viewer to scratch his head and say, “So what?” after contemplating the “postart” that has besieged our world, I get more often than not, the same response: “Please teach me something. Enrich my experience. Enlighten me through the labors of your art. Show me something about life and the world in which I live that I did not know before I experienced your creative spirit. Help me to walk away from the contemplation of your art and feel enhanced.” Sadly, in most cases none of these questions are answered or desires fulfilled. Here it once again appears (after 3,000 years of human artistic consideration): the cry for a true aesthetic experience, “perception with feeling”—and people are indeed crying out for it. They are deprived and starved for it.

Enter Csaba Markus. An aesthetic Olympian, a man whose entire existence is driven to create an art which elevates, amplifies and exhilarates those who encounter it. Csaba, through his art and his complete emersion in its creative processes, is at the forefront of this battle for aesthetic supremacy in an art world which has mostly turned its back on the ideals of beauty.

Csaba knows this. He sees the big picture. He senses that something big is happening now. He understands his place in the history of our time, and he is positioning himself and his art now to be experienced far into the future. He talks to other artists when he is brought together with them through the events sponsored by Park West Gallery. He sees a new way in which art is being brought to the world. A new way in which people who would never have previously had any inclination or disposition to even contemplate experiencing and collecting art, are now engaged and even passionate about the change in their lives brought to them through these experiences. When Csaba speaks of these things his eyes widen, his gestures become broad, his voice booms and he communicates in a bold and vivid manner that runs parallel to his art. A manner that makes him instantly recognizable as a champion, a gladiator for the ideals that formed millennia of masterpieces but are often eschewed and ridiculed today. The quest for beauty: Csaba sees the pendulum beginning to swing back the other way, and he is pulling on it hard.

Stand before a painting by Csaba Markus. At once you know it’s the “real deal.” Before your eyes is a work of art that immediately communicates to the viewer the technical mastery possessed by this artist. Csaba has “chops.” He has studied the techniques of Leonardo, Durer, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt and one hundred other old masters. Likewise, he commands the compositional devices and nuances of the abstract painters and the expressionists. His intention, he has told me, is to create a work that bridges centuries of artistic stylization. And one that is beyond any categorization, any label or generality.

When you look at a painting by Csaba he wants you to bring your own experience to the work. He wants it to be the point of departure for your imagination as your eyes drink in the face of a gorgeous, timeless woman; an airy iconic space full of floating images, symbols and visual touchstones for poetic association; gestures of pure shape and pigment, tonal flourishes, fields of color, ribbons of linear arabesques dancing across the surface. Csaba’s works introduce an artistic world that is fully formed. They present an ideal and harmonic blend of form and content. They are rigorous in their artistic vocabulary and express themselves effortlessly, and yet they are also full of stories to tell, as long as our intuition, spirit and imaginations are willing to listen. To Csaba, the act of creating beauty is once again paramount. To leave the viewer with a sense of wonder and awe that the human imagination can be so potent, that miraculously from nothing but a blank canvas and some pigments, a work of art so evocative and powerful can be born. This is Csaba’s goal. To bring back aesthetic beauty into the art of our times is the reason why he was put on this earth.

Who can say how his work will be viewed in one hundred, two hundred, five hundred years? God willing that there are still people on this planet. And if so, I know that art will still be here. I know that people will still look at a Rembrandt painting and weep. I know that future generations will still be moved by the spiritual purity and sacrifices made by Van Gogh to create his art. I know that people will still attempt to grasp the protean genius of Picasso. I also know (or perhaps believe is more appropriate), that the pendulum will have swung back sometime in our 21st Century. And future historians my scratch their heads and wonder, “What were they thinking?” when they look back in the history books at the remnants of paintings made of spaghetti, sculptures made of old shoes lying in a sled, and “artist shit” in cans (Piero Manzoni). They may very well then set the book down and glance over at their two hundred-year-old Csaba Markus painting hanging on the wall, and be grateful for the artistic crusaders of the early 21st Century who brought back the love of beauty and set humankind and art back on the path of aesthetic glory. 

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Learn more about Csaba Markus at the Park West Gallery Artist Biographies or view selections of the artist’s works from the Park West Gallery Collection.


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David Willardson: The Making of Pep Art

David Willardson, Disney, Mickey Mouse, Park West GalleryDavid Willardson “J’Adore” (2006), from the Park West Gallery Collection.
©Collectors Editions. All rights reserved. ©Disney.

Fans of Pop Art are in for a treat! In this interview with the innovative David Willardson, you’ll go behind the scenes at the artist’s studio and learn all about the genre of “Pep Art” – his unique combination of pop art and action painting. 

From Disney characters to Hollywood movie posters, Willardson has illustrated them all. You’ll hear how Willardson got his start as a Disney artist and watch as he brings Disney favorite, Mickey Mouse, to life. And when you’re done watching the video, head over to the Park West Gallery collection to see even more of the artist’s “anima-zing” works!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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