Detroit's Outdoor Art Earns National Attention

July 16, 2015, 11:19 AM

Outdoor art has long flourished in Detroit. There's the most obvious: the Heidelberg Project on the east side and west-side murals in the Grand River Creative Corridor (right).

Now those installations and others -- including free "Here Hear" shows for four months by fabric sculptor and performance artist Nick Cave of Chicago -- draw in-depth attention from Melena Ryzik of The New York Times:

Public art has long had a home in Detroit, with its expansive vacated spaces and ambitious class of D.I.Y. makers. But lately, the back-lot murals, pop-up sculpture parks and boundary-crossing performances are increasing, as old-guard artists find new outlets and resources, and younger artists arrive overflowing with ideas. Last year, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation gave a grant to Olayami Dabls — a patriarch of the Detroit cultural scene who founded Dabl’s Mbad African Bead Museum, in northwest Detroit — to maintain the art park around his small outpost.

In a city with a community-minded, congenial gallery scene and relatively few collectors — where art sales, in other words, are hardly a driving force — turning a house into a canvas or a sidewalk into a stage fulfills everyone’s creative appetite. In September, a mural festival will begin in Eastern Market, the historic food hall. Even a recycling center here is filled with paintings.

“We see it in new neighborhoods; it does seem to be multiplying,” said Katy Locker, the program director for Detroit at the Knight Foundation, which also provided $150,000 to the Cranbrook Art Museum for Mr. Cave’s own Soundsuit “invasions,” as he called them, in city landmarks like the Art Deco Fisher Building. (Performances and a museum exhibition run through early October.)

Nick Cave in one of his imaginative "Soundsuits." (Photo by Cranbrook Art Museum)

See for yourself

Thursday, 6 p.m.: Nick Cave Dance Labs free public rehearsal at the Museum of Comntemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) is an opportunity to see Soundsuits in action, with choreography by Marcus White of White Werx and the electronic beats of John Collins of Underground Resistance.

Sunday, 4 p.m.: First of three free Soundsuits performances in Detroit by Nick Cave Dance Labs at Ruth Ellis Center, 77 Victor St. in Highland Park, with choreography by Marcus White/White Werx with music by DJ John Jammin Collins. Space is limited to the first 250 people. Other performances are July 26 at the Dequindre Cut and July 31 at Campus Martius. See details here from Cranbrook Art Museum.

Two of Nick Cave's "Soundsuits" at a preview.

Read more:  The New York Times

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