2022 Metro Detroit Arts & Events Preview

From exhibits from outer space to the return of music festivals, presenting our must-see list of cultural happenings through summer


The Henry Ford, in Dearborn, is leaving this planet behind with Apollo: When We Went to the Moon. The traveling exhibition uses more than 100 artifacts to explore the cultural, technological, and political context of the moon landing. Apollo will feature real pieces from the Apollo 11 lunar module, as well as scale models of the command module and the lunar rover. A trip down memory lane for aging astronauts who remember touching down in their living rooms; an exhilarating and interactive exhibit for the next generation of space rangers. Apollo: When We Went to the Moon opens at The Henry Ford, on Feb. 19 and runs through May 8; thehenryford.org


National Arab Orchestra photograph courtesy of NAO
National Arab Orchestra photograph courtesy of NAO

One of the greatest local live performances you can see comes courtesy of the National Arab Orchestra, led by founder and musical director Michael Ibrahim. As part of the University Musical Society’s spring programming in Ann Arbor, the orchestra (which is based in Detroit) will perform with Lebanese singer Abeer Nehme, to explore the classical canon of Arab music alongside contemporary pieces from Arab composers. To see them at Hill Auditorium — the Albert Kahn-designed music venue that offers some of the best acoustics in the Midwest — is a major bonus. The National Arab Orchestra with Abeer Nehme will perform on March 19, at Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium; ums.org 

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will welcome back conductor Peter Oundjian for three days of its Voices of America performance, which celebrates diversity in classical music. The show highlights varying  voices, including those of Joan Tower and William Grant Still. Program stand-outs include a new work by Joel Thompson, inspired by James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son. Voices of America will show at Orchestra Hall, across three performances, March 11—13; dso.org

Another must-see exhibit is Don Kilpatrick’s Process Progress. Set to open in March, the show will feature relief prints from hand-carved woodblocks, alongside urban landscape paintings of Detroit, New York, and Tokyo. Process Progress opens at M Contemporary Art gallery, in Ferndale, in March; mcontemporaryart.com


MOCAD photograph courtesy of Nep Sidhu - metro detroit arts
MOCAD photograph courtesy of Nep Sidhu

Detroit artist Tony Rave will bring his latest show, Politics as Usual 2, to Ferndale’s M Contemporary Art, which has positioned itself as the home for some of the region’s most talented, provocative, and boundary-pushing visual artists working today. Rave will exhibit work that he created after receiving a $1,500 grant through artist McArthur Binion’s recently established arts foundation. Tony Rave’s Politics as Usual 2 opens at M Contemporary Art gallery, in Ferndale, in April; mcontemporaryart.com

MOCAD will launch into spring with four new exhibits — including two we’re highlighting here — with a musical focus. Multifaceted Detroit artist Sterling Toles will bring his Healing Room to the museum, in his first solo exhibition in his hometown. It’s billed as an “interactive experience, where visitors will engage with sounds from Detroit.” 

The museum will also exhibit the first U.S. solo exhibition of Canadian artist Nep Sidhu. It’s called Percussion in Shadow & Dimension. Inspired by the writings of jazz musician Faruq Z. Bey, Sidhu explores a host of media, including painting, sculpture, textiles, and video, to explore the genres of jazz, hip-hop, and techno, as well as ideas like community memory and healing. Healing Room and Percussion in Shadow & Dimension are scheduled to open in April, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and run through August; mocadetroit.org


Movement photograph courtesy of Bryan Mitchell
Movement photograph courtesy of Bryan Mitchell

If you were a Detroit festival over the past two years, you were canceled. That will change throughout 2022, as many music promoters predict a return to normalcy in the large-scale festival market. The city’s signature electronic musical festival, Movement, will once again kick off the summer season of big productions, on Memorial Day weekend. While a lineup has not yet been announced, festivalgoers can expect a mix of local and international talent, anxious to return to the stage. A host of after-parties taking place throughout the city will make this feel like a 24/7 affair, for more than three days. Detroit’s Movement electronic musical festival returns to Hart Plaza, May 28-30; movement.us


Smaller-scale concerts will dominate Detroit’s cultural happenings this summer, with a duo of international acts arriving in the Motor City. German electronic music pioneer Kraftwerk will take the stage with its 3D touring production, at the Masonic Temple, on June 4. French musician and composer Yann Tiersen will tour behind last year’s album Kerber, stopping at the Crofoot Ballroom, in Pontiac, on June 16. themasonic.com and

The Henry Ford will welcome another touring exhibition in June that’s perfect for kids and adults alike. Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume will explore the craft behind the looks of some of Disney’s most beloved characters. Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume opens at The Henry Ford, on June 25 and runs through Jan. 1, 2023; thehenryford.org


The Mo Pop music festival returns in 2022, with new digs. Formerly hosted at West Riverfront Park, the indie music showcase will head down the river, to Historic Fort Wayne. The venue has been attracting increasing levels of attention, from city officials and concert promoters alike, as Detroit’s new hot spot for large-scale cultural events. The two-day Mo Pop music festival takes place July 30‑31, at Historic Fort Wayne, in Detroit; mopopfestival.com


Ain't Too Proud  - metro detroit arts
Ain’t Too Proud photograph courtesy of Matthew Murphy

The Temptations musical already made its mark on Broadway, when it opened there in March 2019. Now, Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations will find its way to the city that birthed the iconic Motown group. It will arrive at the Fisher Theatre, for a three-week run, on Aug. 9. The jukebox musical is based on a book by original Temptations member Otis Williams. It was turned into a stage production by Detroit’s own Dominique
Morisseau, who received the MacArthur Genius grant, in 2018, and currently works as the executive artistic producer for the Detroit Public Theatre. This hometown stop of Ain’t Too Proud is one of the most anticipated theater events to be taking place in Detroit this year. Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations will run Aug. 9-28, at the Fisher Theatre; broadwayindetroit.com 

September–December events not available at press time.

This story is featured in the January 2022 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more stories in our digital edition.