Culture Calendar: Glass Art, Sterling Toles and Boldy James Event, & More

Ryan Patrick Hooper, host of ’CultureShift’ on 101.9 WDET, curates your guide to the month in arts and entertainment
Tylonn Sawyer
Painter Tylonn Sawyer’s Year of the Flood presents a thought-provoking follow-up to 2019’s White History Month, Vol. 1. // Photograph by Jo Darbyi

White History Month Returns

In 2019, painter Tylonn Sawyer brought his stunning White History Month, Vol. 1 to the Institute for the Humanities gallery at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Now, Detroit gets the pleasure of viewing the first volume and his latest entry in his series, called Year of the Flood: White History Month, Vol. 1 & 2. At the heart of what may be his greatest achievements yet as an artist, Sawyer manipulates Western art tropes, Eurocentric classical sculpture, and post-Civil War Confederate monuments to explore politics, race, history, and pop culture. Sawyer has often talked about how hard it can be for a painter to keep up with the Twitter-fueled commentary cycle of what’s happening now. But with Year of the Flood, he’s found a way to bring his paintbrush into the conversation with a blend of urgency and historical context. On display through June 19 at the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art in Detroit. See nnamdicenter.org to RSVP.

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These supersized glass art fries by John Miller are on the menu at Flint Institute of Arts. // Courtesy of John Miller

Greasy Spoon Glass Art in Flint

Flint may not be the first city on your list of day trip destinations, but hear me out: You’re simply not being fair to yourself by excluding Vehicle City. At the Flint Institute of Arts — the state’s second-largest art museum, which also hosts one of the best museum art schools in the country — the exhibit Blue Plate Special by glass artist John Miller (in the appropriately named Harris-Burger Gallery) is an ode to every Michigander who adores the greasy spoon diner. Supersizing hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries, and other items, Miller brings a sense of humor to his masterful approach to sculpted glass. On display through Sept. 19. Details at flintarts.org.

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MW Gallery in Flint showcases works by artists of the African diaspora, including “Splintering” by Maren Hessinger. // Photograph courtesy of the artist and Susan Inglett Gallery, New York.

While you’re in Flint: Stop by the MW Gallery downtown, which is presenting First Look: Recent Acquisitions and Rarely Seen Gems, an exhibit that showcases some of the Mott-Warsh Collection’s latest acquisitions. The MW Gallery is the permanent home of
the collection, which was founded two decades ago to bring art by artists of the African diaspora into nontraditional venues where it could be encountered by people as they went about their daily lives.
On display through Aug. 21. Details at m-wc.org.

Sterling Toles and Boldy James

Allied Media Projects is wrapping up its spring speaker series this month with two heavy hitters of Detroit music — musician Sterling Toles and rapper Boldy James. They’ll be sharing excerpts from their documentary film Story of Manger on McNichols: Boldy James and Sterling Toles, as well as discussing their artistic process, how they forged relationships of trust creatively, and how they use their art as a tool for liberation. The free, virtual event is June 10, at 5 p.m. Info at alliedmedia.org.

John Salvage
Detroit-based singer-songwriter John Salvage’s debut solo album, Coyote Hasten, is an intimate intro to his sound. // Photograph courtesy of John Salvage

New Tunes by John Salvage 

I can’t get enough of John Salvage’s debut solo album, Coyote Hasten, released earlier this year. An intimate bedroom record that’s far from quiet and humble (local standouts David Vaughn and Maritza Garibay also make appearances), it’s a great intro to this Detroit-based singer-songwriter who is already cooking up his next effort. Coyote Hasten was finished at Outer Limits Lounge, a Hamtramck bar with its own record label and recording studio. And that’s where Salvage is working on his next project with producer Kirk Scarbrough. Can’t wait to hear the much louder, full-band sound that Salvage is getting ready to offer the Detroit music scene. Hear it through Bandcamp to support the artist directly. Also available on Spotify, iTunes, and other streaming services.


Ryan Patrick Hooper is the host of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET, Detroit’s NPR station (weekdays from noon to 2 p.m.).

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