January 20, 2014
The Detroit art scene runs the gamut from the treasured world-class Detroit Institute of Arts to the recycled trash of the Heidelberg Project and the hip eclectic Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. A vibrant, made-only-in-Michigan Detroit Artists Market complements the ever-changing artistic landscape of galleries in Detroit.
In 1933, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera finished painting four walls of frescoes at the DIA. “Pornographic and un-American!” cried naysayers. The once-upon-a-time controversial Detroit Industry depicts the city’s role as an industrial powerhouse. Today, this masterpiece, and Self-Portrait, the first piece of Vincent van Gogh’s art to appear in a USA museum, are favourites with museumgoers.
Is it junk or art? A hodgepodge of discarded items – okay, mostly junk – adorns houses, yards and sidewalks in a two-block outdoor art centre. You’ll see shoes, dolls, tires and appliances. Oval Office is a neatly arranged formation of more than 30 vacuum cleaners. Tyree Guyton, artist and founder of Heidelberg Project, explains: -¦much like these vacuum cleaners, they (government officials) don’t work!” A dozen or so clocks and hundreds of record albums decorate House of Soul. Look for ratty action figures and shabby teddy bears clinging to unfit-to-live-in Party Animal House. When recycled rubbish took centre stage in the neighbourhood, crime and drug deals declined. Art wins.
Peek outside behind the building to see the MOCAD‘s only permanent exhibit, Mobile Homestead. The bring-the-suburbs-back-to-the-city sculpture was built to resemble an American Midwest home. It signifies a reversal of the 1960s “white flight” in The D when masses of residents fled to the suburbs. Inside the museum, exhibitions often change.
This neat, uncluttered art shop – overflowing with original works by Metro Detroiters – sizzles with activity. There’s music, food, drinks and every imaginable art form – paintings, sculpture, glass, ceramic, photography and jewellery, to name a few. Check out DAM artist Meghan East’s abandoned vehicle photography series, or Sarah and Thomas Gelsanliter’s handmade ceramics. The 80-plus-years-young Detroit Artists Market, smack in the heart of The D’s vibrant arts and entertainment community, plays host to meet-the-artist evenings, exhibitions and shows.
Virgin Atlantic operate direct flights from London to Detroit. Book your flight today and enjoy the best of Motor City, and beyond.
Have you visited any of these Detroit art galleries? What were your favourite exhibits? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Written by Mary Quinley