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Paintings in Eastern Market, Woodbridge to celebrate Detroit's literary heritage

Detroit Portrait Series by Nicole Macdonald

Detroit Portrait Series by Nicole Macdonald

Nicole Macdonald working on her portrait of Melba Joyce Boyd

Nicole Macdonald working on her portrait of Philip Levine


Ten writers, poets, and publishers, each with their own unique connection to the city of Detroit, will be the focus of an art unveiling Sunday, Sept. 20. The writers are featured in the latest installation of the Detroit Portrait Series, and each is the subject of one of 10 large portraits to be unveiled at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Shed 3 of Eastern Market. A poetry reading and book signing by five of the poets will follow the big reveal.

The Detroit Portrait Series is the work of artist Nicole Macdonald. The latest round includes Detroit literary figures Naomi Long Madgett, Bill Harris, Lolita Hernandez, Terry Blackhawk, Melba Joyce Boyd, Philip Levine, Mick Vranich, Dudley Randall, Robert Hayden, and Sixto Rodriguez. Each is the subject of a 5 ft. by 7 ft. portrait.

According to the artist, the Detroit Portrait Series was initially inspired by Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" and its style of history-telling from the bottom up. Macdonald's previous portraits have included such Detroit luminaries as Hazen Pingree, Yusef Shakur, and Grace Lee Boggs.

The current round of portraits went on display Saturday, Sept. 12. The official public unveiling on Sunday, Sept. 20 will feature a meet-and-greet with Macdonald and readings from Long Madgett, Harris, Hernandez, Blackhawk, and Boyd. The readings will take place from 1-3 p.m., followed by a 3-4 p.m. book-signing.

After a month-long stay at Eastern Market, the portraits will be permanently installed over the boarded-up windows of the Liquor Store at Trumbull Avenue and the I-94 service drive in the Woodbridge neighborhood. The reason is two-fold; the series is sponsored by Woodbridge- and public art-boosters Dr. Lilian Lai and Larry John, and the party store location is across from Wayne State University, with which many of the subjects have some connection.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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