As You Like It: Art in Detroit

Being in Detroit brings up the age old question: what is art? Detroit, best known for its music,  is a center of art, and sometimes, controversy. Here you’ll find a Satanic sculpture, a 17 foot tall cartoony bronze parent and childthe iconic Spirit of Detroit, and a host of other statues. It’s home to a 100 year old pottery studio. It’s an example of how investment in art and culture can be an investment in an entire city. If you like the arts, it’s a place to go. You’ll have a plethora of experiences and emotions.

Detroit has too much art for a short visit but I did what I could to take in the visual arts on my trip there. Entranced with the street murals, I headed to the Detroit Institute of Arts to see Diego Rivera’s 1932 masterpiece.

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Rivera painted people of all races working together–something that didn’t happen in 1932
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Characters from cartoons of the 1930s look on
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while boss man tells workers how to do their jobs.
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Up in the corner, scientists make vaccines while the diversity of Detroit is celebrated in the top center mural.
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Here it is to scale.

From start to finish, the mural took just nine months to complete. Rivera had assistants but he alone painted all of the people.

There was a lot more to see at the DIA.

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Get up close and personal with the classics.

 

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Or maybe you’re interested in traditional African masks This is a death mask, indicated by the color white–associated with death.

 

 

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I’m getting ready to celebrate my house’s 100th birthday. Here’s what a table setting looked like back then.

Or do you prefer your art more modern?

 

 

In contrast, and not too far away from the DIA is the Heidelberg Project, a city block made into street art. Part of the artistic value is the controversy. Is it beautiful? Ugly? Trashy? Transcending? What is it saying about consumerism? Why is it filled with clocks?

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The Heidelberg Project is on Heidelberg Street in Detroit.

The artist, Tyree Guyton, said that he’s attempting to create a new reality in his neighborhood AND get people to visit a place that they would be scared to visit otherwise.

Yes, this art brings people together and brings out emotions. 

It’s even a wedding venue.

There’s an ap to help visitors navigate it, understand it, and keep up with the changes. Profits go to promoting arts in the local schools.

If you are curious about Detroit and want to see its art but are scared, here is a crime risk assessment. With the exception of the Heidelberg Project, most tourist areas are in low crime spots. Crime is dropping in Detroit…it’s fallen to the 5th most dangerous city in the US.  Use caution. And keep your eyes open–especially for art.

 

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Oh! Detroit!

There are things you might not expect when you visit Detroit.

Your cellphone might roam to Canada if you have a smaller carrier such as US Cellular.

You’ll find yourself watching Canadian television.

Parking is free, or nearly so.

The city is spread out and surrounded by woods, much like Portland.

But one surprising thing that doesn’t get enough press: there are 125 outdoor murals downtown.

That’s right. Detroit is ground zero for street art.

Many of these are funded by companies and crowdsourcing. There is an associated festival and a Facebook page.

Here are a few of the murals:

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You’ll often see people posing in front of the murals.

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Fate Favors the Fearless

 

kay mural

Businesses have murals

fox mural

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The photos above are ones I took when visiting the Eastern Market. They are a small fraction of the Detroit murals. Even parking garages have murals.

Click here for more. 

and also here.

And here.

And here.

Detroit has a long history of murals beginning with Diego Rivera in the 1930s. Yes, you can see a Diego Rivera mural in Detroit–inside the Detroit Institute of Art.

You can also spend a day outside staring at the art–everything from the bizarre to the political and even art from famous artists and street artistsHere’s a guide to more street art. Detroit is the #2 city to visit this year according to the Lonely Planet but in street art, it’s Number 1.

 

Michigan & Blueberries & Jam

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A quick trip to Michigan took me to the top of Mt. Pisgah and landed me so many blueberries that I tried canning for the first time.

Extra blueberries meant blueberry jam and ice cream topping.
Extra blueberries meant blueberry jam and ice cream topping.

Blueberries are known for lowering blood pressure, slowing cell damage, and improving insulin levels by keeping fat cells small. However, canning them with sugar as in jam changes their chemical composition, converting the chlorogenic acid, which imparts some of the good properties of blueberries (and might cause weight loss) into eleven different compounds. Cooking and sitting in a jar on the shelf also lowers the resveratrol in blueberries. This chemical is abundant in grapes and some claim it increases testosterone and can cut the risk of gastrointestinal cancers, although studies disagree.  Some food chemists recommend putting canned jam in the freezer to retain the health benefits. My jam isn’t as nutritious as fresh blueberries but it was fun to make and is so good that we had peanut butter and jam sandwiches for dinner.

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