DETROIT FREE PRESS // Detroit Art Week launches hoping to draw attention to city’s art scene

DETROIT FREE PRESS // Detroit Art Week launches hoping to draw attention to city’s art scene

Is the rest of the world paying attention to Detroit’s contemporary art scene?

The organizers behind the inaugural Detroit Art Week are curious to find out.

Detroit Art Week (DAW), which debuts July 20-22, will offer a mix of free, ticketed and charity events hosted across a wide spectrum of 20 cultural institutions throughout the city. The venues will range from major players like the Detroit Institute of Arts to newer contemporary galleries like What Pipeline and Bahamas Biennale.

Each cultural partner will offer a tour of an artist space or a glimpse of a new exhibition. There will also be a series of cornerstone events produced by DAW. Each event  will be designed to showcase the dynamic local art scene to a global audience, said DAW founder and executive director Amani Olu.

“We want to establish Detroit as a global destination for experiencing contemporary art just like Chicago, New York, Miami and Los Angeles,” said Olu, who works as an art publicist and moved to Detroit from New York two years ago.

In some ways, Detroit has already started to get the attention that those cities have long received.

Homegrown events like Murals in the Market have brought international artists to the city, and high-profile, massive murals from Shepard Fairey in downtown Detroit can’t help but draw a national spotlight to the city’s contemporary art scene. And in the past few years, major art publications like Juxtapoz, Hyperallergic and ArtNet – alongside outlets like the New York Times – have dedicated time and space to newsy arts and culture stories, as well as publishing critiques of Detroit-based art shows.

Olu said he’ll lean on his experience as an art publicist to help grow DAW.

His Olu & Company PR firm has worked with local clients like Playground Detroit and artist-turned-mayoral candidate Ingrid LaFleur’s campaign, as well as art-based projects for national brands like Dolby Laboratories and Lord & Taylor.

Part of his plan for gaining international exposure involves forming partnerships with other like-minded, arts-centric nonprofits, such as the New York-based New Art Dealers Alliance, which will host a trip of gallery owners and art professionals to Detroit to experience DAW.

The budget for the first-year event is modest, said Olu, and tapping into the established audience bases of cultural partners with brand names in the local art community will be key to the event’s success.

DAW is expected to draw about 5,000 people, said Olu, but he’s hoping to grow — both into an expanded five-day format and via attendance.

Detroit Art Week is hoping to set itself apart from other citywide art awareness campaigns — like the monthly Second Saturday events produced by online Detroit contemporary art hub Art Detroit Now — by integrating “the whole lifestyle and culture that Detroit has,” said Olu.

“It’s not just about the art — we want to talk about the city as a whole,” said Olu. “It’s about the cultural and creative small business economy. Let’s talk about the culinary arts. Let’s talk about the burgeoning hospitality industry that’s happening here.”

As part of DAW, the Detroit Institute of Arts will host an exhibition of work from a duo of iconic Detroit artists with nearly 100 years of experience between them — Allie McGhee and Carole Harris.

Like many artists with roots dating back to the 1970s, McGhee’s work runs the gamut of mediums. But he’s primarily known for multimedia paintings with rich textural value.

Over the past 52 years, Harris has blazed a path for herself primarily as a quilt artist that works in fiber and other textiles, blending bold strokes of color with designs that feel more like architectural blueprints reimagined in a new format than traditional quilts.

Both McGhee and Harris have shown their work around the globe, and McGhee’s work is part of the DIA’s permanent collections.

For Harris, having her work shown inside of a gallery at the storied museum will mark a major milestone in her career.

“They don’t let just anybody show there,” said Harris. “I’m honored that my work is thought well enough of to be shown in that institution.”

Harris said she primarily shows her work outside of Detroit, but is starting to see more interest locally as the international art community takes note of the city’s cultural scene.

“I’ve been practicing making art for over 50 years, so this is not new to me,” said Harris. “I have not left Detroit — I’ve continued to stay here and do what I do. Now the world has come to us.”

“I hope it points to a brighter future for the rest of art makers in Detroit,” added Harris.

Detroit Art Week organizer Olu said setting that tone of history was important.

“If you don’t know anything about this art scene, your introduction will be these two artists,” said Olu. “You’re going to come into this community understanding a little bit of history.”

Alivia Zivich is an artist-turned-gallery owner who opened What Pipeline in 2013 in southwest Detroit because there was a lack of traditional contemporary art galleries in Detroit proper, she said.

She said DAW represents the growth of the city’s contemporary art scene thanks to a mix of media attention and more spaces — which provide more opportunities for artists to show their work.

“We were looking around for the typical contemporary art gallery in Detroit (in 2013) and now we’ve got at least a handful of them,” said Zivich, who adds that she’s seen more Detroit artists move back home in the past few years.

“It’s been an interesting time to see outsiders come and do stuff here; former Detroiters come back home; and people who have been all along realize there are more outlets now, too,” said Zivich.

Detroit Art Week Highlights:

For a complete list of participating galleries and additional details, including information about tickets or cost, 

Carole Harris & Allie McGhee exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts: 

Two powerhouse Detroit artists — Carole Harris and Allie McGhee — combine forces to kick off Detroit Art Week at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Opening reception Friday, July 20; closing date to be announced. A ticketed dinner at southwest Detroit restaurant Flowers of Vietnam will follow the opening. 

Tour Heidelberg Project with artist & founder Tyree Guyton: 

Walk through the storied arts installation on Detroit’s east side with the artist and founder behind the Heidelberg Project Tyree Guyton. A Q&A with the artist will follow. July 21

Historic House Party to Benefit Arts Education:

Fête will be a house party turned charity event at the former Kresge estate in the Boston Edison neighborhood to raise money for arts education at Detroit Cristo Rey High School in southwest Detroit. Detroit producer and DJ Waajeed is set to perform. 9 p.m.-midnight July 21; ticketed charity event

Detroit Art Week // July 20-22th 2018

Participating venues include Bahamas Biennale, C.A.N Art Handworks, Inc., Cave Detroit, CCS Center Galleries, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Darkroom Detroit, David Klein Gallery, Detroit Institute of Arts, Galerie Camille, Heidelberg Project, Holding House, Library Street Collective, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, Playground Detroit, Popps Packing, Power House Productions, Public Pool, Red Bull House of Art, Reyes Projects, Simone DeSousa Gallery, Wasserman Projects, and What Pipeline

Original article:

Featured image, Sal Rodriguez, Detroit Art Week website. 



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