A peek inside ‘Yeah, What Lester Said’...

A peek inside ‘Yeah, What Lester Said’ environmental art exhibit

Zug Winter painting by Dominique Chastenet de Géry


This weekend is the last opportunity to check out Yeah, What Lester Said , a free, online exhibition this summer that aims to tackle climate change. Named after activist Lester Brown, the exhibit aims to tackle climate change. Many of the artists are from Detroit, based here, or have works that represent the city in some way. 

The exhibit is a collaboration with the American Institute of Architects, Michigan, 2030 District Detroit, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, activist artists, green infrastructure experts, and Architects, Lawrence Technological University’s Detroit Center for Design + Technology and their curatorial partner, Embrace Creatives.

Check out the exhibit here and read on to learn more about the artists below.

THE ARTIST: Diane Checklich

Filmmaker and Detroiter Diane Checklich lives at the intersection of art, nature, and action. She contributed several films to the digital Yeah, What Lester Said exhibit. Two use rain as a major theme.

“I’ve loved photography for most of my life, and the film was a natural extension of that. As a passionate environmentalist from an early age, making films about the environment lets me work on two things that are personally important to me. I see art as a creative and entertaining communication channel to inform new audiences about environmental issues. Film, in particular, can reach wide audiences online, which can be particularly effective in the age of COVID.”



THE ARTIST: Dominique Chastenet de Gery

Dominique Chastenet de Géry received an MFA from Wayne State University in 2016. In 2017, she moved to Ann Arbor, where she set up a studio. She shows regularly throughout the Detroit area and in California, where her family settled in the late 1950’s. Her 6’ by 7 ‘ oil painting Zug Winter is among the pieces featured in the digital exhibition, Yeah, What Lester Said.

My paintings rarely include figures, which creates an intimacy with the landscape and a feeling of being able to breathe deeply, taking time to fill the lungs and feel the air. Within the painting, there are many geometric visual paths and sequences to engage the senses and prolong the experience; the complexity and details lend themselves to renewed and novel experiences upon each visit. I work on the principle that intimacy and familiarity encourage emotional connections. The absence of shock and tragedy makes it possible to feel the empowerment of hope, eliciting a sense of responsibility and capacity.



THE ARTIST: Paul Hickman

As an entrepreneurial designer, artist, project/production manager and business owner, Ann Arbor’s Paul Hickman has over 35 years of experience designing and creating, from billboards to environmental graphics to commercial environments to furniture and picture frames. His designs feature Intentionally simple and timeless designs, crafted from salvaged woods, featuring rich organic textures integrated with raw modern and industrial materials.

“My next project comes from culmination of all the work I have done for my entire adult life. I am partnering with two other individuals to create a national/international nonprofit that will enable urban cores and other large entities such as universities and corporations to fully realize the potential of the urban wood economy. This will engage everything from salvaging and replanting our urban trees, to wood mills, to manufacturing, to finished wood goods, all while focusing on workforce development and employing some of our most disadvantaged citizens.”

THE ART: Hickman Rancho Deluxe (ARCHITECTURE)

THE ARTIST: Brenda Miller

Brenda Miller, of Ann Arbor, Mich., has been studying and working in the fields of art and design for much of her adult life. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Eastern Michigan University in 1987. She has exhibited in Ann
Arbor and her collages have served as the covers of the Ann Arbor Observer dating back to 1997. Brenda has also worked to support parents and families since 1998 in Mott Newborn Intensive Care and the Ronald McDonald House of Ann Arbor.Her works on paper are featured in Yeah, What Lester Said. Colony Collapse 2 uses Detroit street maps to imagine community gardens and vacant lots where bee populations may revive.

My work as an artist for many years now has been to express my love of and concern for our environment. I work in collage. I love synthesizing images that are beautiful and meaningful. Through all of my adult life, I’ve had feelings of wanting to protect the natural world. It empowered me to express that through my art. Art breaks through barriers in ways that nothing else can. Art connects us to what matters and allows us to feel deeply. My collage hero is Romere Bearden for how he was able to speak politically and artistically, with such humanity, about our fragile world. I’m working on a collage of the Border to Border Trail for the cover of the Ann Arbor Observer.

THE ART: Colony Collapse (COLLAGE)


Leslie Sobel is an Ann Arbor-based artist. Her work reflects her deep focus on climate change and our disconnect from the natural world. She works integrating wilderness fieldwork in remote places with scientists and time in the studio. In 2017 she camped on an ice field in Yukon Territory with a group of glaciologists and she continues to collaborate with those and other climate scientists focusing on the effects of climate change on the high latitudes. Her BFA is from the University of Michigan, and an upcoming MFA will be from the University of Hartford. She works in mixed media frequently incorporating photography, scientific data and more traditional materials. Sobel is an organizer of Yeah, What Lester Said. She worked with Andrea Bogart to curate the art exhibition.

“I’ve been making work about climate issues for a long time but really focused on it after chaperoning a high school service trip to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina when I was deeply struck by just how much trouble we’re in. People don’t connect emotionally with scientific data. Art can give one that emotional hook to get the importance of climate issues in a way that numbers and policy documents don’t convey. I’ve been doing a big series of work on Harmful Algae Blooms on Lake Erie. That body of work will be exhibited in my thesis exhibition, Confluence.”