Art News

The Other Art Cities X Detroit

Detroit’s art scene should be on your map, a UNESCO City of Design with a plethora of public art,  cool art spaces and galleries.

It is the depth and diversity of talented artists working in Detroit that put the City on our map though.  We caught up with some of these artists as part of our Detroit Spotlight to ask them what are the best things about the city art scene. All are exploring diverse subject matter in a range of mediums and share a deep love for the city and the art community there.

Diego’s Wall, Eric Buechel

A painting based on Diego Rivera’s famous Industry Murals(1932-33) at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Cydney Camp:

There are a lot of challenges to being an artist in Detroit, but also a lot of beautiful things.  Our sense of community is very strong, and once you’ve made a few friends here, they’ve got your back.  The idea of Detroit Grit is very real, and we are always determined to make something fabulous despite limited means.  Compared to other major cities, it’s a very affordable place to live and work.  Finally, I love that I am surrounded by powerful, creative, beautiful, black people, who continually show me what great things are possible for me to achieve, and who make our city the best place to be. 

Cydney in her Detroit studio

Johnny Floyd:

Detroit is a complicated place with a complicated history; so too goes the story of it’s Art community. There are a lot of beautiful aspects of it. It is fairly insular so there are a lot of opportunities to meet artists, expand your network, and find space to truly express ideas. That being said, just as most places, the galleries and institutions seem to be mostly homogeneous places. This is not to say there aren’t instances in which diversity doesn’t exist, but as is the case in the Art scene across the world, Detroit has a lot of work to do. The beautiful thing about this is that it is an opportunity. We can still address these issues and facilitate meaningful dialogue and precipitate change.

Johnny in his Detroit Studio

Michael Polakowski:

The art scene in Detroit right now is pretty exciting to be around! There are a lot of talented people who are making a name for themselves on their own terms and putting out great work. I’m curating a show right now with some of my favorite Detroit painters and plan on exhibiting it in an artist run space. That’s the type of thing that excites me about being here, having access to wickedly talented people and the community spaces to share their work in.

Michael in his Detroit studio, photo courtesy of Blake Yard

Randy Owusu:

The Heidelberg Project would never exist in any other major city. The mentality of Detroit artists is to simply create. No one will stop you from shooting a flamethrower at midnight every night during quarantine. This will change once Detroit becomes a city similar to Chicago or New York. Till then, Detroiters create whatever they want. 

It all comes down to the people. The Detroit art community is strong, consisting of hard-working, dedicated and passionate artists. The community I have found in Detroit constantly encourages and challenges me. Without these artists, I wouldn’t have had the strength or perseverance to push away my fears and anxieties and put my practice first. Graduating with an MFA amidst a global pandemic is a surreal experience to say the least. Having a solid support system here in Detroit has proven critical for my success as an artist.

Violet in her Detroit studio

Zora Bowens:

The best thing about art in Detroit is…. Where do I start?  That you can almost just do it anywhere and see it everywhere. If you want to paint it, just ask the owner of the building. If you want to build a sculpture and put it somewhere, just do it. We love art. It makes a city that has had once so many downsides, happy. There’s tons of space here, people are nice, rent is cheap; and it makes for a great place for an artist to be. One feature we have for pure artist expression is “The Art Park” as we call it, Lincoln Street Art Park part Recycle Center part park of insane sculptures part rave space. But, they’re working on turning it into an entire artist district, And that just goes to show the culture of art in Detroit. People are so willing to collaborate and create here it’s actually pretty crazy. It’s like we feed on art. The art scene is incredible and it feels huge, but also feels like family.

The Detroit Spotlight is the first in The Other Art Fair’s ‘Discover Other Art Cities’ series. The series aims to showcase some of the best emerging artists in undiscovered art hubs on our Online Studios platform, providing exposure to these up and coming stars and bringing collectors and buyers from around the world to new destinations.