join us for the discussion

Saturday, November 6, 2010,
Join our guests in the discussion:

How can we envision a more comprehensive vision of a creative class and what is the potential impact for an integrated cultural city?

Guests include (watch this space as we confirm more guests)

Mashawnta Armstrong MASH and mash magazine
Mike Han, Street Culture Mash and I am Young Detroit
Shea Howell, co-founder Detroit Summer, Metro Times: Progressive Hero (feature on Shea)
Oren Goldenberg, Our School and Michigan Film Collective
Chazz Miller, artist, community activist, founder Public Artworkz
Ron Scott Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality

5141 Rosa Parks
Detoit, MI


eat your art work

photo: Lowell Boileau
One of the things I enjoy about the Russell Street Deli is the big long tables. You effectively can eat alone elbow to elbow with strangers. It's a nice strategy for a convivial place. The connections between art and food and culture for me are myriad, but this is of particular interest in thinking about how each fosters some sort of connection.

As I was elbow to elbow with strangers I thought of the adage I've heard "Dinner Time is the most segregated hour in America." Russell Street Deli enables what could be an even more robust creative energy by their seating. I think of the many places I love to eat in Detroit, and those that stand out are the ones that are not all black, all white, all Latino. There could be more. Take that as a creative challenge--I am going to. Let's foment some social revolution that reverses the dinner time adage. We all have to eat anyway, so why not eat together.

In the New York Times magazine a week back, there was a profile of Basil a small restaurant in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, whose social mission is to foster a complex culture around eating. Not just the neo-Brooklynites and their hand made sausages, the locavores and their organics, (and in this instance, not the notoriously insular Lubavitcher community.) I loved the sound of the place, and the motivations of the owner, who had moved to Brooklyn from Jerusalem and was looking to recreate some of the cheek-by-jowl complexity of that city.

Let's try it in Detroit.


Is Detroit the new New York? Is that a good thing?

Patti Smith writes on Detroit as a place for young artists to go. Because NYC rent are too high. There is a nostalgia to Patti Smith's tone here. I lived in Philadelphia myself, right after college. Rent was cheap and it was easy to live there as an artist (I could work part time as a doorman at a hotel and enough to live on.) One of the things Patti Smith bemoan, that many New Yorkers bemoan is that the city has become to expensive for artists to live in.

Such is the inevitable path of gentrification, and an assumption about the place of a creative class in the life cycle of a city. Artists use their optimism and sweat equity to fix up old buildings, open galleries, coffee shops, be in bands. This provides great energy for the city, and a beacon to a middle class that has often fled the city for the suburbs. They come back in, rents go up, artists move out.
But there's more to the story, and the more is frequently overlooked, namely that in the path of gentrification countless individuals and families are edged out as rents rise.
My question and challenge: How can artists be part of the creative city of Detroit in an integral and meaningful way so that the city and all its citizens can rise together?


what color is your hipster?

I want to put this out here, because it is something that motivated this show. Namely, the relationship between art and work in our cities (and specifically in Detroit) and how that relationship more often than not skews towards an image of a recent college graduate, and predominately white.

Is this:
A media lens that tends to focus on this singular demographic as if Detroit were a City waiting for the arrival of a certain bohemian class? I'll post links to a sequence of New York Times articles that celebrate these folks as the harbingers of a new era for Detroit culture, and I'll talk more about what issues this celebration raises (at least for me--and welcome your responses and insights.)

Do we all know people who look like us and talk like us and therefore we tend to gaggle as such--report on one another, have shows with one another?

Is that enough? Interesting enough, just enough, challenging enough?

Read this demographic profile from the Time Blog, that codifies a growing population of non-Hispanic whites and ask what stories and trends like this mean for art, race and the city