Detroit takes Manhattan: Artists exhibit regional art energy at Chelsea gallery

We like seeing local talent rise to the top. Even more of a thrill is to see one of our own at Model D excel at what they do.

In April, photographer Marvin Shaouni traveled to New York City to take part in an exhibition called "Live from Detroit." The show was curated by Monica Bowman of the Butcher's Daughter in Ferndale and features works by Kevin Beasley, Susan Goethel Campbell, Kate Daughdrill, Christina Galasso, Dick Goody, Cynthia Greig, Chido Johnson, Leon Johnson, Laith Karmo, Nate Morgan, George Rahme and Shaouni.

The gallery, Fred Torres Collaborations, is in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, at 29th St. at 10th Avenue. We'll try to take you there in this breezy conversation between editor Walter Wasacz and Shaouni.

Wasacz: How did this invitation come about?

Shaouni: Monica Bowman told me she was following my work and liked my perspective on Detroit, which focuses on real people doing real shit in the city. She told me she liked the way my photographs spoke to the possibilities of what can get done here.

Wasacz: Who chose the pieces for the exhibit and how many did you show?

Shaouni: We worked together on the selection. I'm not from the art world. I'm essentially a commercial photographer, trying to be in the right place at the right time. I think that was what Monica wanted. I have four 24x36-inch prints in the show that deal with the changing physical landscape of Detroit, the emerging food scene and the Detroit chicken races -- I had to get that in there!

Wasacz: Describe the opening reception. We were texting each other while you were there. It seemed like a madhouse.

Shaouni: It was packed, shoulder to shoulder all night. I'd say there were about 200 people in the gallery itself, and spilling out onto the sidewalk. I met some girls from Detroit, from the Palmer Woods-University District, who said they follow Detroit activity through my work in Model D. Outside the galley, on 10th Avenue, there were banners hanging on light posts promoting the show. The image on the banners was from one of my photographs, which was a great honor.

Wasacz: Contrast the social and creative energies of New York and Detroit. How is it different? How is it similar?

Shaouni: To be honest, it felt really similar to Detroit. It seemed like we have a real bond with the art scene in New York. The people at the show expressed a lot of openness and optimism about the work we're doing in Detroit. I got a lot of questions about what it's like to live and work here. I had a sense that the art world in New York considers Detroit art work to be important. That's a nice validation.

Keep those vivid visual vibes coming, Marvin. Follow Shaouni's work each week in Model D.


(artists from left) Chido Johnson, Nate Morgan, Dick Goody, Leon Johnson, Susan Goethel Campbell, Cynthia Greig, Laith Karmo, Kevin Beasley, Christina Galasso, Kate Daughdrill, Monica Bowman, Marvin Shaouni & George Rahme.

Live From Detroit opening reception at the Fred Torres Collaborations.

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Photos by Marvin Shaouni.

Read more articles by Walter Wasacz.

Walter Wasacz is a writer and the former managing editor of Model D. You can find more of his writings here.
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