Where We Go For Culture


The arts. So crucial, yet one of the first things cut when school or civic budgets get tight. Art generates controversy, too — from arguing the merit of graffiti to funding the DIA and the Detroit bankruptcy’s “Grand Bargain.”

3 Tried and True Public Art Installations

Hamtramck Disneyland

Hamtramck Disneyland started as a hobby by the late Dmytro Szylak (right), a retired General Motors worker. It’s now a globally recognized engineering masterpiece open for exploration, filled with bright colors and unique designs, all built on a 30-foot backyard and on top of two garages. 12087 Klinger St., Hamtramck

The Heidelberg Project

For nearly three decades, artist Tyree Guyton’s idea to create an art environment to rebuild the east-side community has gone from controversial to institutional. His transformation of blighted homes into unique art pieces has received worldwide attention and become a popular tourist destination. But it’s still in the eyes of the beholder. For the past two years, the art installation has been subject to 12 fires. 3600 Heidelberg St., Detroit; heidelberg.org

Cranbrook Academy of Art

As an educational institution, the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum provides an experience with modern and contemporary art, architecture, and design. Enlighten all your senses with a walk from one side of campus to the other to view the Cranbrook House built by Albert Kahn, sculptures by Carl Milles, Marshall Fredericks, and more; fountains; Kingswood Lake; and more. 39221 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills; 248-645-3300; cranbrookart.edu

1 Potentially Record-Breaking Mural

In March, our friends at DBusiness reported that the world’s tallest mural was heading for Detroit’s First National Building. Work on the 350-plus-foot-high by 81-foot-wide painting, designed by world-renowned New York-based street artists How & Nosm, was set to start and finish in May. At press time, no progress had been made and no start date had been set.

Unreleased renderings for How & Nosm’s proposed With All One’s Heart mural feature a vivid background of geometric cubes — a nod to Alvin Loving’s 1972 mural Message to Demar and Lauri that once graced the skyscraper’s walls. Message was a public art staple in downtown Detroit for nearly two decades. It covered more than 20,000 square feet and encapsulated Loving’s early body of work. In 1989, the fading mural was removed after being deemed too costly to maintain.

Once referred to as a leading figure in the African-American Abstraction movement, Loving’s work remains in the permanent collection at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and his hometown Detroit Institute of Arts.

Loving graduated from Cass Tech and earned his master’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1965. A solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1969 marked his arrival on the art scene.

In a 1974 New York Times review of his constructed pieces, Peter Schjeldahl described his work as able to “energize the space around them.”

Loving’s larger-than-life mural in Detroit did much of the same — bringing a point of pride for the African-American art community and injecting vibrancy into a drab downtown. In 2005, Loving passed away from lung cancer at the age of 69.

We agree that preservation of historic architecture is critical, and the First National Building is a significant landmark. But what better place to cement the legacy of a local artist and make a statement about Detroit’s artistic vibrancy than to install a modern mural that breaks records? Stay tuned.

—Ryan Patrick Hooper

3 New Public Installations

The Z

The Z (above) is 535,000 square feet of mixed-use building and nearly 1,300 parking spaces. Artwork by 27 international artists utilizing bold colors and design fill the space. Retail tenants include Punch Bowl Social and Citizen Yoga. 1234 Library St., Detroit; bedrockmgt.com

Lincoln Street Art Park

Created in 2011 as a program of Green Living Science, this display of public art benefits from the Recycle Here facility with sculptures made from everything recyclable in this community gathering space. 5926 Lincoln St., Detroit; greenlivingscience.org

Red Bull House of Art

As part artist incubator and part art gallery, the Red Bull House of Art in Eastern Market offers local and national artists the opportunity to showcase their work in a collaborative and inspiring environment. 1551 Winder St., Detroit; 313-758-9219; redbullhouseofart.com

3 Hot Music Venues

Populux (above): The Magic Stick and its pool tables are gone. LED-lit columns, a big dance floor, new bathrooms. Bring on the electric dance.

The UFO Factory is back and has landed in Corktown. And now they’re talking about adding food options like fancy hot dogs? We’re there.

The Dirty Dog Jazz Café: Acoustically perfect, intimate setting, great acts, good drinks, and delicious food. Who could ask for more?

3 Detroit Stories Worthy of a Movie

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (above): Currently in post-production, American Prophet is a movie about this peace, justice, and civil rights activist/retired auxiliary bishop of the Detroit archdiocese. An Indiegogo campaign is seeking donations.

Mayor Coleman A. Young: Really? There’s never been a major movie about him? One of the Tuskegee Airmen; blacklisted for union activities; House Unamerican Activities Committee target; and all that before becoming Detroit’s first African-American mayor?

Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad Former Detroit News columnist Betty DeRamus’ book is being turned into an eight-hour television miniseries by NBC and, later, a musical with songs by Stevie Wonder.

Outdoor Music

3 Old Favorites

Chene Park: The gem on the Detroit River celebrates its 30th season

DTE Energy Music Theatre: The big kahuna is still rocking after all these years. But those of a certain age still call it Pine Knob.

Meadow Brook Music Festival: The usually more sedate little brother of DTE, it was originally the summer home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

1 New Outdoor Concert Venue

On 20 acres, Detroit’s West Riverfront Park is hosting events like Mo Pop in July (Modest Mouse, Passion Pit, Iron & Wine, and a slew of other acts).

3 New/Revived Venues

Freedom Hill: There have been some $2 million in upgrades to technology, cosmetic fixes, and more since its reopening in 2013.

LaFontaine Family Amphitheater: Three Milford civic organizations joined to design and build a concert venue and restrooms. It will be home to the weekly summer Concerts  in the Park series.

Kennedy Memorial Park: Just in time for an exhibit to honor the MC5, the Lincoln Park band shell is getting an upgrade.