The sense of arts and culture as a healer and builder has long existed in this riverside city.
Detroit has always been about more than cars. After all, it was here—as anyone who has seen the movie “Dreamgirls” knows—that the special sound known as Motown was born and flourished. Aretha Franklin moved back here decades ago, returning to her roots. Kid Rock still has a home nearby. Actor Jeff Daniels lives in Chelsea, not too far away, and often performs music in the city from his new CD. Such prolific and popular authors as Elmore Leonard and Mitch Albom are also part of the city’s cultural life.
The sense of arts and culture as a healer and builder has long existed in this riverside city. And right now there’s so much buzz about so many great things happening—from the major renovation of the recently reopened Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Whistle Down the Wind
at the historic Fisher Theatre—that culture mavens have to engage in some serious prioritizing to decide what to do first.
The biggest buzz in Detroit’s arts scene may be about the 31,000-square-foot, $158 million addition/renovation of the classic Beaux Arts–style Detroit Institute of Arts
(DIA), originally built in 1927, which sits in a cultural corridor known as Midtown near downtown. The museum showcases art ranging from millennia ago in the Antiquities Gallery, to the more recent past in the Medieval Gallery, to modern works in the Contemporary Gallery.
Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry is by far one of the museum’s most coveted pieces. You will find it in the center of the museum along all four walls of the Rivera Courtyard.
Want your art a little funkier? Travel down the street to a building whose chipped and graffiti-covered façade could fit into any emerging urban landscape. But this is no everyday urban scrawl; it’s a mural by graffiti artist Barry McGee, who also goes by the moniker Twist. The building is home to the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
(MOCAD). Chain-link fences protect exposed silver HVAC tubes, and concrete blocks with cracking green paint are part of the unadorned and gritty interior that makes this the perfect cutting-edge urban art venue.
The current exhibition, Black Is, Black Ain’t, explores racism through the work of more than 20 different artists and will run through May.
Detroit Institue of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, 313-833-7900
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit, 313-833-7899
This article has been adapted from the original, which was published in the January by MSP Communications.