Documenting the Urban Landscape

Local artist Janice Milhem exhibits her work at Cafe Verde
Work by Ann Arbor artist Janice Milhem, exibited at Cafe Verde.

Work by Ann Arbor artist Janice Milhem, on exhibit at Cafe Verde.

When a Chronicle reader saw our article on graffiti art, she shot us an email saying we should check out Janice Milhem’s work, too.

Milhem isn’t a graffiti artist, but she documents urban landscapes – in Detroit, Berlin, New York, Marrakech and Ann Arbor, among other locales – through photographs that reflect both the grit and gravitas of life on the streets.

Her work is on exhibit this month at Cafe Verde in a show called “Shout” – a name Milhem said she chose because her pieces give expression to those who often don’t have a voice in society. The graffiti that Milhem documents is one way that people with few educational or economic opportunities express themselves, she says, and despite the bad rap it often gets, “it’s really quite beautiful.” Going into an abandoned factory that’s been adorned with graffiti “is almost like being in a cathedral.”

Janice Milhem

Janice Milhem

In addition to images of graffiti, Milhem captures other types of “social chaos,” such as protests, as well as architecture throughout the world as she travels. “It’s a way for people to see things and how other people live,” she says. Getting away from your accustomed world view “really opens up a lot of ideas.” She hopes her upcoming trip to Nepal with the Foundation for Global Leadership will provide even more fuel for her creative work.

Meanwhile, check out Milhem’s efforts closer to home. Cafe Verde isn’t officially part of the Oct. 17-18 Art Walk, but it could be – it’s just down the street from the Gallery Project, on your way to Kerrytown Market & Shops.

This is Milhem’s first solo show, though she’s been exhibiting for the past few years. Her work is for sale, and ranges from about $85 to $175. The exhibit runs through Oct. 26. You can also check out her work online.

Cafe Verde is located next to People’s Food Co-op at 214 N. Fourth Ave. The cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Customers at Cafe Verde mingle with those attending the opening reception for Janice Milhem's "Shout" exhibit on Sept. 28.

Customers at Cafe Verde mingle with those attending the opening reception for Janice Milhem's "Shout" exhibit.

A piece in Janice Wilhem's "Shout" exhibit at Cafe Verde.

A piece in Janice Wilhem's "Shout" exhibit.