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Artist Charles McGee, 92, paints 11-story-tall mural and opens exhibition

One of Detroit's most accomplished contemporary artists, at 92 years old, is still searching. 

That's the theme for his latest exhibition, "Charles McGee: Still Searching," which is presented by the Library Street Collective and opens on June 1. According to a press release, the exhibition "traces McGee's 70-year-long career through an array of works that encapsulate two of the artist's most enduring themes: chronicles of the black experience and a love of nature. The retrospective also reflects McGee's evolution across mediums, with works ranging from charcoal drawings and photography to avant-garde three-dimensional and multimedia pieces."

One block from the gallery, coinciding with the exhibition, McGee's 11-story-tall mural "Unity" will also be unveiled at 28Grand, a new micro-loft apartment building constructed by Bedrock. 

McGee has accomplished much over his 70-year career in art. His work is on permanent display at the Detroit Institute of Art and Museum of African American History. He's also one of the founding members of the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit. 

"Charles McGee: Still Searching" opens June 1 at 1505 Woodward Avenue, a pop-up gallery, with an artist reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

Y Arts fundraiser doubles as a celebration of '60s psychedelic rock

There's lots of good reasons to attend a fundraiser for Y Arts, the arts and humanities branch of the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit. Of course, it's an opportunity to support an important arts organization. But if that's not enough of an incentive, this year's theme, "Y Arts' Rockin' Art Bash," promises to be a thrill for fans of '60s rock music.
 
The fundraiser, which takes place on Saturday, November 26, will have a screening of Kresge Kresge Fellow Tony D'Annunzio's Emmy Award Winning rock documentary "Louder Than Love: The Grande Ballroom Story," about the east-side Detroit venue.
 
The Y Arts press release gives a great description of the classic venue: "The Grande Ballroom stood as the epicenter of the Detroit rock music scene in the late 60s Serving as the starting point for bands such as MC5, Iggy & The Stooges, Ted Nugent & The Amboy Dukes, The Grande Ballroom not only influenced local Detroit musicians but inspired bands from all over the U.S. and Great Britain. Legendary acts like Led Zeppelin, Cream, B.B. King, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, and The Who graced The Grande Ballroom main stage on a regular basis. This is the story of the hallowed halls that started it all, told by the artists who helped create The Grandes legend."
 
The poster artwork of Gary Grimshaw will also be featured. And there will be a live musical performance followed by a Q&A with the director of "Louder Than Love."
 
All proceeds from the event will support Y Arts Detroit and the arts programming they provide to youth and families throughout Metropolitan Detroit. Tickets are available at http://rockinartbash.brownpapertickets.com/.

The Senate Theater launches crucial crowdfunding campaign

A classic Detroit theater needs your help.

The Senate Theater on Michigan Avenue, home to one of the largest Wurlitzer organs in the world, hopes to raise $150,000 in a GoFundMe campaign. The theater has opened and closed several times since it first opened in 1926, and is entirely volunteer-run today.

Most of the money will go towards repairing the rusted sign, both the steel and letterboard. It's difficult to tell that the Senate is even open for business without it.

Here's a brief history of the theater from Cinema Treasures: "The former theater was acquired by the Detroit Theater Organ Society (DTOS) in 1963 who renovated it and reduced seating from 1,200 to about 900. The Club moved the former Fisher Theater organ from the Iris Theater, where it was briefly kept in 1961-2, to the Senate Theater.

"Since then, the Senate Theater has been home to the DTOS, and features organ concerts. It no longer has its projection equipment, so unlike the Redford Theater, which features organ concerts and classic motion pictures, the Senate Theater became a concert hall only."

The crowdfunding campaign ends on November 5. To donate, visit the campaign page.

Living Arts commemorates Mexican tradition with month-long series of events

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a holiday of Mexican origins that takes place on November 1 and is dedicated to the memory of relatives and loved-ones who have died. Living Arts, an organization that supports youth arts programming and does a lot of work with Southwest Detroit's Mexican-American community, will be holding an event on October 29 to commemorate the holiday.

Beginning with a procession across the Bagley Street pedestrian bridge, "Teatro Chico—Dia de los Muertos: Nuestras Historias, Our Histories" will culminate with a community meal, music and dance performances, and an exhibition of ofrendas (altars) at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center.

The performances will be given by some esteemed dance and mariachi groups, including Living Arts' own youth dance ensemble.

"Living Arts is proud to be able to contribute to this important conversation about Dia de Los Muertos among all the other wonderful contributions taking place in the Southwest Detroit Community as well as in the greater Detroit area and in Southeast Michigan," stated Erika Villarreal Bunce, Living Arts' director of programs, in a press release. "Through this project we hope to help uplift the ancient roots of Dia de Los Muertos through examining its long history and acknowledging its future. We hope to reconnect with the significance of the tradition as well as help others to learn about and engage on a deeper level with Day of the Dead."

Throughout the month of October Living Arts will also offer art workshops on papermaking, pottery, along with other traditional crafts, using those art objects to create a Dia de Los Muertos Ofrenda. All activities will take place at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center.

The project is sponsored in part by Michigan Humanities Council, the Ford Motor Company Fund, and the Ideal Group.

Teatro Chico: Dia de los Muertos takes place on Saturday, October 29 from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. beginning at the Bagley Street pedestrian bridge and moving to the Ford Resource and Engagement Center. The event is free of charge, but donations are encouraged. For more information about the event or workshops, visit the Living Arts event page.

Cleveland installation has Detroit inspiration

If you happen to find yourself in Cleveland between now and early January, be sure to head to the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) for an art installation that features Detroit.

Titled, "Unit 1: 3583 Dubois," the work by Anders Ruhwald recreates the a Detroit building's identity through a series rooms and corridors. "Using charred wood, ash, molten glass, found objects, and black-glazed ceramics, Ruhwald meticulously composes an immersive, richly sensorial experience that is at once dramatic, nostalgic, and uncanny," says a description on MOCA's website.

Model D's sister publication in Cleveland, Fresh Water, also visited the exhibit and came away with this fascinating description: "Unit 1 does include two sensual components the other exhibits lack," writes Erin O'Brien. "Not only does it smell of charred wood evocative of campfires as well as arson, visitors are encouraged to do something that might otherwise get them asked to leave a museum: touch all the interior components of the mysterious space, some of which offer a primal element of life: warmth."

At the end of its run in Cleveland, Ruhwald will transport the installation back to Detroit for permanent relocation.

"Unit 1: 3583 Dubois" will be on display at the MOCA until January 8, 2017. 

Conference on preserving Detroit's musical legacy enters third year

Detroit has one of the greatest musical heritages of any city in the world. And a local conference is intent on preserving it.

Hosted by the Detroit Sound Conservancy (DSC) and presented by Lawrence Technological University, the 3rd Annual Music Conference will convene people integral to music preservation for the purpose of discussing how to harness the city's musical legacy.

The conference, which takes place on October 15, will have panels, a speech from Soul music legend Melvin Davis, as well as a remembrance of James T. Jenkins, founder of the Graystone International Jazz Museum and Hall of Fame, who would have turned 100 this year. 

The conference will be held at the Detroit Center for Design & Technology (DCDT).

"The DCDT prides itself on aligning with local initiatives, programs and organizations who look to foster and expand the role that art and design play among the local community, growing industry and educational pedagogy," says Karl Daubmann, DCDT interim executive director. "With the DSC's history of working towards increased awareness of Detroit’s musical heritage, along with their efforts in advocacy, preservation and education in the local community, the DCDT is proud to support our neighborhood partner in their endeavors to reinvigorate Detroit's ever present musical culture."

The DSC's 3rd Annual Music Conference takes place from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 15 at the Detroit Center for Design & Technology. For more information on the conference schedule or to RSVP, click here.

Help select which mural gets painted at the Adams Butzel Recreation Complex

Every year, the 8-week Summer in the City program culminates in a celebration and mural painting. This year, they've chosen to adorn the Adams Butzel Recreation Complex in northwest Detroit with a hockey-themed mural.

And you can help decide which mural is selected. The Detroit Red Wings Foundation, along with the youth-led summer program, and the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department have come up with seven mural designs, all hockey-themed, as the section of the rec center to be painted is the Jack Adams Memorial Hockey Arena.

The mural that gets the most votes will be painted on the Finale Friday celebration, which includes more than just painting, and takes place on August 12. All are encouraged to vote for their favorite design and volunteer for painting.

Summer in the City is an organization that offers programming and volunteer opportunities in Detroit for youth. One project they commonly undertake is mural-painting—the organization says they've painted over 100 in the city.

Model D covered last year's Finale Friday at Crowell Community Center, also in northwest Detroit. An estimated 1,200 volunteers showed up.

To vote for your favorite mural design, click here.

Hatch Art launches fundraiser to save Hamtramck Disneyland

The Hamtramck art collective Hatch Art, using the local crowdfunding platform Patronicity, has launched a fundraiser to help save Hamtramck Disneyland, the famous folk-art site started in the backyard of Ukrainian immigrant Dmytro Szylak.

Syzlak immigrated from Ukraine to Hamtramck with his wife in the 1950s. For the last 30 years of his life, he constructed and renovated the whimsical, vivid artwork that contains tributes to his new and past home countries.

Syzlak passed away last year, and his estate sold the artwork to Hatch Art in May 2016.

If they reach their goal of $50,000, Hatch Art will, according to the fundraiser, "repair and maintain the outdoor, site-specific folk art installation as well as establish an artist's residency program and gallery space."

The installation hasn't been properly cared for in some time and is indeed in need of numerous upgrades. "The garages that support the art suffer from rotten roofs and sagging structures," reads the fundraiser. "Much of the art is weathered, falling apart and in need of immediate attention to be saved."

The "Save Hamtramck Disneyland" fundraiser ends August 20. 

Developers take lead installing public art in downtown Detroit

Public art is becoming an increasingly common sight as developers both big and small (including Model D's startup editor Jon Zemke) integrate murals and sculptures into their redevelopment projects in the greater downtown Detroit area.

The Detroit News profiled Midtown-based artist Nicole Macdonald's work creating murals of the Motor City's great leaders, including her largest work to date, a billboard-sized tribute to Mary Ellen Riordan on the side of a duplex in North Corktown.

"A group of students were walking by and they stopped and asked, 'Who's that?' and I had the opportunity to tell them," Nicole MacDonald is quoted in the article. "That's what public art is all about. It's empowerment."

Model D broke the story about the mural of the legendary former president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers earlier this year.

Summer program at downtown YMCA teaches teens about media arts

Y Arts, which does arts programming for the downtown Boll YMCA, is offering a summer program for teens interested in the media arts. The Y Media Works Summer Institute gives campers the opportunity to learn from local media talent and "produce their own film ideas, photography projects, stop motion animation, and digital music compositions," according to promotional materials.

The program, now in its 9th year, is run by Y Arts executive director Margaret Edwartowski, who's had a lengthy career in theater as a writer, director, actor, and improvisor. The team, which is rounded out by other artists with expertise in media, will provide daily instruction and take the campers on field trips to production houses, museums, and studios.

The camp runs from Monday, July 11 to Thursday, August 11, with camp days being Mondays through Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Every campers' final film will be shown on Saturday, August 20 at the YMCA's Marlene Boll Theatre. 

"We hope that our campers gain experience in photography, digital film production, and visual storytelling working alongside local artists," said Edwartowski by email. "But most of all we seek to provide a fun and creative experience where youth explore and celebrate downtown Detroit."

The camp costs $500, but full and partial scholarships are offered. 

The Y Media Works Summer Institute begins July 11. To apply or learn more, contact Margaret Edwartowski at medwartowski@ymca.org.

Knight Arts Challenge Detroit accepting submissions now through May 2

For the fourth straight year, the Knight Foundation will be awarding up to $3 million in grants to Detroit artists. The submission period begins today, April 4, and runs through May 2.

The Knight Arts Challenge has a broad concept, and is "open to anyone with an idea for engaging and enriching Detroit through the arts." The application is also simple. All you need to do is distill your project idea into 150 words and follow these three guidelines: 1) The idea must be about the arts. 2) The project must take place in or benefit Detroit. 3) The grant recipients must find funds to match Knight’s commitment.

Two of the 170 prior winners include Hardcore Detroit, which explored the ‘70s Detroit dance craze in a documentary, and Detroit Fiber Works, a gallery and learning space that claims to be the only fiber arts studio in Detroit. 

“Almost everywhere you go in Detroit, you see Knight Arts Challenge winners inspiring and engaging our city,” said Katy Locker, Detroit program director for Knight Foundation, in a press release. “What’s next? We can’t wait to see what Detroit comes up with.”

The Knight Foundation will host two free community events on April 11 at the MOCAD and April 15 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The events are meant to support potential applicants, with past challenge winners and Knight Foundation arts program director Bahia Ramos in attendance. 

To submit your application to the challenge, click here

Third annual Freep Film Festival kicks off

On Thursday, March 31, the Freep Film Festival (FFF) begins its third year of showcasing documentary film relevant to Detroit and Michigan. 

The festival is building on its success and expanding its scope. This year there will be nearly double the number of screenings, including 18 premiers, shown at six venues in Detroit plus Emagine Theater in Royal Oak. 

“The Freep Film Festival’s emphasis on films that have a strong tie to Michigan and/or Detroit set the Festival apart from others in Michigan and throughout the country," said Steve Byrne, executive director of the FFF, in a press release. "The films will showcase the best and most intriguing elements of our residents, our city or our state."

Opening night of the FFF starts Thursday, March 31 at the Filmore in downtown Detroit with a live recording of Kevin Smith's podcast "Fatman on Batman," who's best known for directing such films as Chasing Amy and Clerks. This will be followed by a live screening of T-Rex, a documentary about a 17-year girl from Flint, Michigan pursuing a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London. 

Other highlights of the festival include films on the controversial Hantz Woodlands project in Detroit and a double feature about Belle Isle. The festival comes to a close April 3.

For more information on tickets and screenings, visit freepfilmfestival.com.

Detroit's SXSW? Corktown Strut festival has bold ambitions


Last week, Brian McCollum of the Detroit Free Press reported that a large-scale music festival is coming to Corktown in July. Organizers have dubbed it Corktown Strut, saying that it will feature an eclectic range of performers spanning a wide variety of genres.

Corktown Strut, which is scheduled for July 1-3, will join a number of other large-scale music festivals that take place during the summer in Detroit, including Movement, the Hoedown, and Jazz Fest. It will differ, however, in that its musical acts will represent a variety of genres and that it will place a greater emphasis local food and drink, specifically the restaurants and bars of Corktown.

Organizers hope that Corktown Strut will fill the void left by City Fest (formerly Taste Fest), an annual summer festival that featured a variety of musical acts and local food businesses before it was discontinued in 2009.

Forward Arts, an organization that creates programming to promote Detroit's arts community, is putting on the event in collaboration with a variety of local bookers and event producers, who are curating a musical lineup that will be announced in mid-March.

"We're taking the overall model of [City Fest] and some of the model of (Austin's) South By Southwest, and fitting it to the Corktown neighborhood and our arts community," Dominic Arellano told the Detroit Free Press.

For more information, visit http://www.corktownstrut.com/.

Source: Detroit Free Press

Get down with Banglatown at Oct. 3 block party

 
In recent years, Detroit's Banglatown neighborhood (located just north of Hamtramck) has become known as much for resident artists and community-based art projects as its sizeable Bangladeshi population. Community arts organization Power House Productions, performance art group The Hinterlands, the Bangla School of Music, and winners of Write a House (a permanent artist residency giving away homes to writers) all call Banglatown home, resulting in a neighborhood with many cultural assets.
 
That cultural richness will be on display on Saturday, Oct. 3, during the Banglatown Block Party. According to its Facebook event page, the party will feature arts and culture programming the showcases various project sites Power House Productions has been working on over the past 5 years. Events and activities are planned for houses on Moran, Lawley and Klinger streets, including a workshop with The Hinterlands, music by Bangla School of Music, screenprinting with One Custom City, badminton matches at Sqaush House, and exhibitions by poet Casey Rocheteau and photographer Corine Vermeulen. Later in the day, hip hop duo Passalacqua will emcee a neighborhood talent show and food will be available at Ride It Sculpture Park.
 
Learn more: Facebook

Free Press explores Detroit's top 35 street art pieces


Detroit is a Mecca for street artists. That's part of the reason why Eastern Market-based 1xRun decided to host the upcoming 9-day mural festival called Murals in the Market, which will bring street artists from around the world to Detroit from Sept. 17-25.
 
Before they get here, however, take some time to explore what's already in Detroit. Start with this amazing feature by Detroit Free Press writer Mark Stryker and photographer/videographer Romain Blanquart, which lays out Detroit's top 35 street art pieces, from the Alley Project in southwest Detroit, to Charles McGee's untitled 1974 modernist mural in downtown Detroit, to the many pieces of the Grand River Creative Corridor, and more.
 
Enjoy!
 
Read more: Detroit Free Press
332 Arts Articles | Page: | Show All
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