Culture Calendar: Detroit Month of Design, Tunde Olaniran’s ‘Made a Universe’ Exhibit, & More

Ryan Patrick Hooper, host of ’CultureShift’ on 101.9 WDET, curates your guide to the month in arts and entertainment
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Expect to see things in a whole new light during Detroit Month of Design, with events and projects happening the entire month of September. Above a 2021 exhibit titled Web Model Dot Space. // Photo by Sal Rodriguez

A monthlong celebration of Detroit’s design legacy

You can trace the roots of Detroit’s design legacy to the sleek exterior of the automobile and towering art deco skyscrapers, but it’s grown to encompass so much more in the decades that have followed. Since 2011, the city has hosted Detroit Month of Design — a monthlong celebration that brings together exhibitions, tours, workshops, interactive displays, keynote speakers, and a lot more. This year’s event (Sept. 1-30) will feature more than 80 events with programming focused on design strategies with the capacity to strengthen community resources and mutual aid. Expect to see all facets of design—from the urban planning and landscape decisions that frame our cities and lives to the fashion, furniture designers and artists that shape our cultural mindsets and aesthetic sensibilities. Many events are free and open to the public, so consider this a front-row seat to where design in Detroit is heading next.

Some events require advance registration or ticketed admission. For a full calendar of events and details, visit designcore.org/month-of-design.

Tunde Olaniran’s universe is worth orbiting at Cranbrook Art Museum

It’s been over a decade since Tunde Olaniran arrived triumphantly on Michigan’s music scene. Hailing from Flint, Olaniran has always had a catalog of strong visual elements to complement their operatic voice and stark electro-pop production.

Their collaboration with the Cranbrook Art Museum, however, is the grandest pairing of visual art and music I have seen from this talented artist — and it’s closing this month (Sept. 25). Olaniran’s Made a Universe arrives in three parts. In a screening room, you can view a sweeping, 25-minute short film that marries a sci-fi-horror narrative with Olanrian’s own music, complete with set pieces designed and built by a murderers’ row of Detroit artists.

Tunde Olaniran in a press photo from his Made a Universe exhibit. // Photo by Steven Piper

Those same set pieces help make up the physical exhibition space that patrons can walk through — you can watch the film and then literally step into the world you just viewed moments before. The third gallery brings together a selection of works from the Mott-Warsh Collection in Flint, one of the largest private collections of Black contemporary art in the country, including works by Kehinde Wiley, Nick Cave, and Carrie Mae Weems, among others. It’s one of the best examples of art jumping off the screen and into the gallery I’ve seen in metro Detroit.

General admission is $10 for the entire museum. For details and more information, visit cranbrookartmuseum.org

Two downtown entertainment forces combine for live shows

There’s a wave of investments and changes at the Hollywood Casino at Greektown (formerly known as the Greektown Casino).

New restaurants, renovated hotel rooms, new cashless options for gamblers — but still no dedicated space for live entertainment, a staple at many casinos. To solve that problem, the casino has teamed up with Detroit’s Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts just an eight-minute walk away to bring about 40 live shows under the “Hollywood Greektown Casino Presents” banner.

Highlights in September include former Late Late Show host and comedian Craig Ferguson (Sept. 16), the funk and soul of Tower of Power (Sept. 29), and comedian George Lopez (Sept. 30).

For more details, visit hollywoodgreektown.com/entertainment.

The infectious power pop of Nick Piunti and the Complicated Men

One of the most consistent elements of Michigan’s music scene is the straight-ahead power pop of Nick Piunti and his band, the Complicated Men, who hail from Grosse Ile. If you still find yourself enraptured with Elvis Costello’s This Year’s Model or Big Star’s #1 Record, you’ll find a musical home for yourself with Piunti’s latest album, Heart Inside Your Head, released earlier this year.

From the perfectly crisp opening chords of “My Mind (Plays Tricks on Me)” to the anthemic “One of the Boyz,” it’s clear Piunti is one of the most capable songwriters in the state and is certainly not afraid of making sure there’s a solid hook for every chorus he writes.

Listen to their latest album, Heart Inside Your Head, anywhere you like to stream music. You can buy it directly from the artist at nickpiuntimusic.bandcamp.com.


This story is from the September 2022 issue of Hour Detroit magazine.