This Detroit industrial area depicts a warehouse dissected by a bridge, and suggests economic symbolism: an infrastructure of production, storage and distribution. As in the artist’s urban scenes, the location appears deserted and neglected. It’s somewhat difficult to determine whether the building itself is populated — the yellow and orange in the windows, at first glance resembling plywood, can also be interpreted as lights. Admittedly though, it’s hard to bet on it.
Let down by the symbolism, the composition nevertheless exhibits considerable power, power derived from the sheer physical presence of the structures. Both the bridge and the warehouse parade massive weight and bulk and, as they overlap, emphasize the illusion of depth. Their rigid linear frames are softened by the curving rails in the low right corner of the piece.
Buy placing the bridge at the top third of the painting, the artist devises an effect of an impending collapse. While this imbalance creates visual tension and interest, symbolically it portends, once again, unfavorable auspices. A seemingly collapsing bridge, while may not break above mentioned infrastructure, could well paralyze it, with adverse effects on the economy. It seems that this was exactly the state of events Stephen Magsig wanted to capture.
Colors faithfully convey the bleak and foggy atmosphere of an industrial area. Grayish green, blue, and especially brown tones (on the ground, the bridge, the rusty rails) soak up the light and dull it; dust can almost be felt in the static air between all the structures and buildings. It’s never easy to breathe in an industrial area, and from given point of view the struggle becomes almost literally apparent.
True to his style, the artist tackles the scene head-on, placing the warehouse almost exactly at the center of the composition. The green edifice, like a sleeping giant, appears to stand in wait — perhaps for better times. As other Magsig’s pieces indicate, some of these buildings awaken during the night, suggesting that not all is yet lost for the city of Detroit.
*this article has been edited at a later date