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Is street art becoming a crime in Detroit?


Update: Mayor Duggan's office has lifted all violations issued against property owners along Detroit's Grand River Creative Corridor after considerable public outcry in response to reports from the Motor City Muckraker that the Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department had issued tickets to the owners of buildings with murals that were declared to be graffiti. The mayor himself personally apologized to Derek Weaver, founder of the Grand River Creative Corridor. The mayor's office also issued an apology to the Motor City Muckraker for claiming that there were errors in the site's initial reports when they in fact were accurate.

Read the latest developments in this story on the Motor City Muckraker.

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According to recent reports from the Motor City Muckraker, the city of Detroit has declared war on street art by ticketing building owners along the Grand River Creative Corridor, declaring murals that adorn the sides of their buildings to be graffiti. Before the launch of the Grand River Creative Corridor initiative in 2012, the buildings  were frequently the targeted by taggers.

According to Steve Neavling of Motor City Muckraker:
 
"Derek Weaver, who started the Grand River Creative Corridor in July 2012, received about $8,000 in fines and has been ordered to remove "graffiti" from his buildings. He and several others were detained for about an hour last week by four cops who temporarily seized cameras from a PBS film crew that was documenting an artist painting a mural.

“We were treated like criminals,” Weaver said. “They threatened to arrest us.”

More than 100 local, national and international artists are involved with the GRCC, and hundreds of volunteers have helped clean up trash and vandalism along Grand River, making it a popular destination. In 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder honored the GRCC with a “Keep Michigan Beautiful” award."

A source in Corktown told Model D that the Brooklyn Street Local restaurant has also received a graffiti ticket for the mural adorning the side of its building.

Let's make a clear distinction between street art and graffiti.

Street art is commissioned, sanctioned work intended to beautify a building or public-facing surface. In many instances, building owners and neighborhood groups commission street art murals in order to prevent unwanted graffiti (In Detroit, blank walls attract taggers like lightbulbs attract moths).

Graffiti, on the other hand, is the unsanctioned tagging of buildings or public-facing surfaces by individuals for little more reason that getting one's name up and marking territory, much like a dog that pees on a fire hydrant.

Neavling points out the absurdity of the city's quest to punish building owners who commission or allow street artists to use their property as canvases:
 
"Among the unanswered questions is why police are bothering with murals painted with permission when an increasing number of graffiti vandals are targeting occupied and historic buildings, freeway signs, schools, churches, cars, houses, light poles, mailboxes and playground equipment."

Model D will continue to follow this issue as more news develops.

Source: Motor City Muckraker

Berliners want to invest in Detroit, but you already knew that because you read Model D


Berliners want to invest money in Detroit. Big news, right? The Wall Street Journal thinks so. They recently ran a story about how Dimitri Hegemann, owner of Berlin electronic music label and club Tresor, is in love with the idea of opening a techno club in Detroit's long-abandoned Fisher Body 21 plant.

As quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Hegemann had this to say: “Fisher Body is my first real love.”

Of course, if you read Model D, this isn't really news to you at all. Walter Wasacz, Model D's former managing editor and a frequent contributor, worked with Hegemann to put on "The Detroit-Berlin Connection," a forum that happened in conjunction with the Movement Electronic Music Festival on Memorial Day weekend. (Check out Wasacz's recap of the forum.) Wasacz recently traveled to Berlin to partake in the Atonal Festival, of which Hegemann is the founder, and wrote this reflection on what Detroit can learn from Berlin.

Also, in case you missed it, be sure to check out our Q&A with Dimitri Hegemann from back in May.

Model D will continue to follow developments in this story.

The strange tale of the Garwood, an inventor's mansion that became an iconic rock-and-roll squat


In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Detroit's rock-and-roll scene was at an apex. Legendary venues like the Grande Ballroom and the Easttown Theater were premier spots to see performances by local bands like the MC5, the Stooges, SRC, and the Bob Seger System, as well as internationally renown touring acts like The Who.

But one of Detroit's best venues to see live rock-and-roll wasn't really a venue at all -- it was a mansion on the east riverfront.

In 1927, legendary Detroit speed boat racer and inventor Gar Wood had a mansion built on Grayhaven Island on Detroit's east riverfront. After Wood retired and sold his home in the 1940s, the mansion that came to be known as "The Garwood" went vacant until it was leased by 19-year-old Mark Hoover in 1969.

According to the Detroit Free Press:

When Hoover started throwing rent parties with live music in the mansion's cavernous ballroom, his more conventional roommates fell away and were replaced by a different cast of characters. They coalesced around a rock band called Stonefront, and the house took on the air of a commune dedicated to countercultural enterprise.

The Garwood eventually became a destination for touring acts travelling through Detroit:
 
The uniqueness of the surroundings and the loosey-goosey atmosphere of Hoover's parties soon attracted rock royalty. Some bands would finish their shows at the Grande or the Eastown and then repair to the Garwood, where they'd perform another whole set. The acts that unexpectedly graced Gar Wood's beautiful ballroom included Van Morrison, Sly & the Family Stone, the Allman Brothers, Cactus, Ted Nugent & the Amboy Dukes, Tim Buckley and Mountain. Leon Russell recorded one of his performances there. Johnny Winter loved the place so much he inquired about renting a room.

"They were madness. They were barely controlled chaos," said Merryman of the rent parties. "But in all those nights, there was never a fight, not one. Well, except for the time Hoover had to throw Alice Cooper out because he was too drunk. Considering the thousands and thousands of people that came through the place, there was no violence. None."

Eventually, however, the authorities shut down the parties and the tenants were evicted. A short time later, the house was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.

Read more about this amazing chapter in Detroit rock-and-roll history in the Detroit Free Press.

Write A House selects first winner, poet Casey Rocheteau of Brooklyn


Last week, Write A House, a group awarding free houses in Detroit to writers, selected its first winner, poet Casey Rocheteau of Brooklyn.

Rocheteau was selected from a field of hundreds of applicants from around the country by a panel of judges that included former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins and local writers dream hampton and Toby Barlow.

According to Write A House's blog:

"Rocheteau is a writer, historian, and performing artist. She has attended the Callaloo Writer’s Workshop, Cave Canem, and Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, and she has released two albums on the Whitehaus Family Record. Her book, Knocked Up On Yes, was released on Sargent Press in 2012, and her second collection, The Dozen, will be published in March 2016 by Sibling Rivalry Press. Rocheteau can be found online at www.caseyrocheteau.org and @CaseyRocheteau."

Write A House purchased a house in Wayne County's annual auction of tax-foreclosed properties last year and partnered with Young Detroit Builders, a 10-month training program that helps 18-24 year old students working towards their GEDs develop skills in the building trades, to renovate it. Rocheteau will move into the house in November.

In the mean time, Write A House will install a house sitter at the home.

Write A House opens a new round of applications in early 2015 for its next set of houses, which are located in the same neighborhood where Rocheteau will reside. Until then, the organization will continue to raise funds to purchase and renovate Detroit homes for its residency program. Donations can be made through Fundly.

Source: Write A House
 

Knight Arts Challenge People's Choice vote ends August 29

While four small business vie for $50,000 in startup funding in the Hatch Detroit contest, five arts organizations are vyeing for a $20,000 People's Choice Award in the Detroit Knight Arts Challenge.

As a way to shine the spotlight on smaller groups, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is asking the public to vote by text for their favorite of the five nominees to determine the People’s Choice Award winner. To vote, the public can text the nominees individual code to 22333 in the U.S. or 747-444-3548 toll-free, through Friday, Aug. 29. The effort is part of the Knight Arts Challenge, now in its second year funding the best ideas for the arts in Detroit.

The Knight Arts Challenge People’s Choice nominees are:

A Host of People: a theater group celebrating the do-it-yourself movement in both food and the arts by creating a site-specific piece to be performed in community gardens around the city; (Text Detroit1 to 22333)

African Bead Museum: a center for African culture that wants to renovate its facilities and create more exhibition and programming space; (Text Detroit2 to 22333)

ARTLAB J: a troupe strengthening Detroit’s dance community by presenting Detroit Dance City Festival, a three-day celebration highlighting both local and national artists; (Text Detroit3 to 22333)

Ballet Folklorico Moyocoyani Izel: a dance group that wants to bring the traditional dances of Mexico’s La Huasteca region to Detroit by teaching the choreography locally; (Text Detroit4 to 22333) 

Detroit Drumline Academy: a group of former drummers from Detroit-area schools that wants to prepare the next generation of percussionists by teaching and mentoring middle and high school students. (Text Detroit5 to 22333)

For more on Knight Foundation’s arts initiative and to view a full list of Knight Arts Challenge winners, visit www.KnightArts.org. Connect on the Knight Arts Facebook page here and via @knightfdn and @knightarts on Twitter.

Crash Detroit festival to bring nationally renowned brass bands to Corktown

This weekend, renowned brass bands from around the country will join the Detroit Party Marching band for Crash Detroit, the city's first festival of street bands and art.

According to Detroit Unspun, on Friday, July 18, "More than 100 musicians will be scattered throughout the city giving a musical surprise to patrons, bar-goers, passers-by, or anyone else whom they might come in contact with. The mysterious concert schedules will be held in the strictest confidence, but they will take place between 8:00 pm and 11:00 pm.  You can keep track of the goings on as they occur on Twitter @Crash_Detroit."

On Saturday, July 19, Crash Detroit participants will host a more traditional performance in Roosevelt Park in front of Michigan Central Station in Corktown. The schedule is as follows:

2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m., BlueLine Brass Band

2:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band

3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m., May Day Marching Band

4:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Minor Mishap

5:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m., Black Bear Combo

5:45 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., Environmental Encroachment

6:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m., Black Sheep Ensemble

7:15 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Detroit Party Marching Band

8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Mucca Pazza

Crash Detroit is run entirely by volunteers and musicians are performing without pay. Admission to the Saturday performance is free. To help pay the costs of putting on the event, Crash Detroit organizers have launched a crowndfunding campaign on Rocket Hub. Those who wish to support the festival can donate here.

Source: Detroit Unspun

Finalists for Knight Arts Challenge grants named

On June 16, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation named the finalists for the second annual Detroit Knight Arts Challenge.

A group of 88 finalists was culled from a field of nearly 1,000 applicants who each submitted their best ideas for the arts in Detroit.

According to Knight Arts' press release, "The finalists propose a range of ideas -- from art and performance in viaducts, gardens and living rooms, to Javanese theater puppetry and Mexican dance, a “Story Census” and celebrations of opera, gospel, DJs, drumlines and ragtime. The majority of the finalists are grassroots efforts led by small organizations and individual artists."

Applicants were asked to follow three simple rules:

1) The idea must be about the arts
2) The project must take place in or benefit Detroit
3) The grant recipient must find funds to match Knight’s commitment

Last year, 56 proposals were awarded Knight Arts grants totaling $2.1 million. Winners of this year's Knight Arts Challenge will be announced in October.

For more information and a complete listing of 2014 Knight Arts Challenge finalists, visit the Knight Arts website.

Applications open for Write a House, a permanent writers residency in Detroit

Write A House is a different sort of writers residency. That's because it doesn't really end.

On May 15, Write A House began accepting applications for its inaugural writers residency, which will award an individual a home in Detroit to keep, forever.

Applications for the first Write A House residency may be submitted online between May 15, 2014 and June 21, 2014. There is no application fee. Writing quality is the most important part of the application, but judges will also look for the ability of applicants to contribute to the neighborhood and the wider literary culture of Detroit.

Eligible applicants must be low- or moderate-income writers with some history of publication. They must also be U.S. citizens and age 18 or over. Details about the application process and the Write A House program can be found at www.writeahouse.org/apply.

The process will be judged by a group of accomplished local and national writers, including Toby Barlow, Billy Collins, Sarah F. Cox, dream hampton, Major Jackson, and Sean MacDonald.

Write A House houses are located in Detroit just north of the enclave city of Hamtramck. The neighborhood is sometimes referred to as Banglatown for its sizeable Bangladeshi population.

Model D featured the Write A House residency and its neighborhood in a story that ran in January of this year.

Source: Write A House

Rivera-Kahlo exhibit highlighting artists' time in Detroit coming to DIA

Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry murals are arguably the best know works of art associated with the city of Detroit. Between April 1932 and March 1933, Rivera and his wife, famed artist Frida Kahlo, lived in Detroit while Rivera worked on Detroit Industry. The Detroit Institute of Arts, where the murals are located, is currently preparing to host an exhibit highlighting Rivera and Kahlo's stay in Detroit, which is widely acknowledged as a creative period for the couple.

The Detroit Institute of Arts expects the "Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit" exhibit it's planning for March 15-July 12, 2015 to draw large crowds from around the country. According to Crain's Detroit Business, "Planning for the exhibit began several years ago."

Read more in Crain's Detroit Business.
 

Exploring the Detroit-Berlin connection

The Detroit-Berlin Connection is a collaborative, transatlantic effort to bring together creative individuals and communities in the two cities with the goal of driving cultural and economic growth in Detroit. The group's first Conference for Subcultural Exchange for Urban Development will be held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) May 23, 2014. The conference is free and open to the public. It begins at 4 p.m.

Partners in the project include Tresor/Kraftwerk Berlin, re:publica/newthinking, Electronic Beats, De:Bug/Das Filter, Womex and others from Berlin; and Model D, Paxahau/Movement, Ponyride, and Underground Resistance from Detroit. The program will include presentations by several Berliners involved in art/entrepreneurship efforts key to the German capital's revitalization over the past 25 years. A panel discussion featuring Berlin and Detroit participants will follow, along with a Q&A session and a chance for the public to mingle with the speakers.

More information about the Detroit-Berlin Connection can be found on its Facebook page. Register for the May 23 event at MOCAD here.

Crash Detroit, a new festival of street art and bands coming to Corktown this July

Detroit is getting a new street festival this summer called Crash Detroit.

According to the festival's Facebook page, "Crash Detroit invites the community to come together by providing free access to music and the arts while encouraging joyous human connection. The festival will connect bands from across the country and build upon the rich culture of music in Detroit. The festival is a celebration of place that aims to give life to underused spaces in Detroit and promote local business."

Crash Detroit is currently scheduled for The event is scheduled for Saturday, July 19 in Roosevelt Park. It is all ages and free to the public.

Follow Crash Detroit's Facebook page for updates.

Good Tyme Writers' Buffet returns to Hamtramck's Public Pool

How many times do you lie in a day, in a month, in a year? Is a lie the opposite of truth or simply the absence of truth? It’s safe to say that literature is a vast collection of lies, and writers are absolutely the very best liars. 

Bullshit or not, on April 19 at Public Pool in Hamtramck (3309 Caniff), six writers will potluck, neighborhood-style, and read short works on the subject of LIES. 

Martin Anand will DJ

Come potluck with us. Talk, Drink, Eat, Listen. 

Readers include:

Maia Asshaq
Hillary Cherry
Lolita Hernandez
Steve Hughes
Mark Maynard
Chris Tysh

Learn more here.

Hell yeah, Hamtramck!

Blowing up this week on Facebook, this gem of a list features many of our favorite Hamtown spots, including the underrated Krakus Polish restaraunt (people, just go; it's actiually in Detroit, just north of the Hamtramck city limits), Recycled Treasures, B&H Bar & Grill (one of two Bosnian-owned food businesses on Caniff), Planet Ant Theatre, Srodek's Quality Sausage (ask for the blood sausage, called kieska in Polish), Lo & Behold and Public Pool. Oh, hell, here are the other gems in the story: Hamtramck Disneyland, St. Florian Church, New Palace Bakery and the Detroit Zen Center. That makes 10. All great.

Read all about it here.

Live/Work artist space available in Northend's Fortress Studios

Fortress Studios, a live/work studio space for artists, is currently accepting applications for its residency program. If accepted, artists receive housing and studio space, as well as training opportunities for a $500 monthly fee. In addition to the live/work residency, Fortress Studios offers short-term project-based residencies, studio space, and workshop space (prices vary).

Founded in 2010, Fortress Studios are located in Detroit's Northend neighborhood.

Learn more at http://www.fortressstudiosdetroit.com/opportunities.htm and http://detroit.craigslist.org/wyn/ats/4387152097.html

New York Times: DSO getting national attention for live streaming

The sounds of brilliantly played music composed by classical masters is nothing new for fans of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. What is new is that you can live stream DSO concerts on your digital device from the DSO site. The New York Times reports that the Midtown-based orchestra is a global leader in providing this service. How cool.

Read about it here.
302 Arts Articles | Page: | Show All
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