Last Chance: Leni Sinclair
Also ending soon at MOCAD is the excellent Motor City Underground exhibit, featuring a
collection of lesser-known works by photographer and activist Leni Sinclair, focused on her days documenting radical movements such as the White Panthers that marched to the beat
of their own drums in Detroit in the 1960s and beyond. As captured by Sinclair’s master lens, the Motor City’s counterculture history comes to life in powerful black and white.
Leni Sinclair: Motor City Underground runs through April 18, mocadetroit.org
Last Chance: Black Art Library
With Black Art Library at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, independent curator Asmaa Walton has created what MOCAD calls “a living archive of global Black creativity.” Walton started the project in February 2020 by collecting all sorts of Black art ephemera — children’s books, exhibition catalogs, memoirs, monographs, and more. She started posting them to her Instagram and soon made the leap into the physical realm; the collection is now a pop-up library that turns bits of Black art history into an accessible community asset and a platform for engaging with the rich legacy of Black art and artists. Black Art Library
runs through April 18, mocadetroit.org
Smell the Flowers at Reyes|Finn
If you’ve been noticing a heavy floral focus in a range of design mediums, you’re onto something. The trend marches on at Reyes|Finn, a contemporary art gallery in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. Its latest exhibition is called The Language of Flowers, based on a 19th-century book that explored the symbolism of flowers in the strict social codes of the Victorian era. “An open rose signifies beauty. A thistle evokes austerity. Peonies carry shame,” exhibition curator Phillip March Jones explains in a press release. The show, on display through April 16, features new work from Hayley Barker, Kevin Ford, and Lonnie Holley, among others, and includes pieces by Thornton Dial, a groundbreaking outsider artist whose colorful assemblages and paintings rank him among the contemporary masters. Reyes|Finn is open by appointment only through reyesfinn.com.
Diverse Offerings at U-M
Leave it to the ambitious University Musical Society to present the National Arab Orchestra and classical pianist and conductor Sir András Schiff in the same month. The University of Michigan’s prestigious cultural arm will present both performances virtually, bringing concert-quality audio to the comfort of your couch. Schiff will perform the early works of Bach and Beethoven, while the Detroit-based National Arab Orchestra will present Arab Women in Music: The Works of Asmahan and Umm Kulthum. The orchestra is led by founder and musical director Michael Ibrahim, whose energetic live performances and ambassadorship of the Arab arts have made him one of the most compelling members of metro Detroit’s creative class over the past decade. Arab Women in Music is available now through April 5 via ums.org; Sir András Schiff’s performance will be available from April 9 to 19.
Spot Rising Arts Stars at Cranbrook
From revisiting works from its vast collection to offering patrons private admission so they can have the place to themselves, the Cranbrook Art Museum has found creative ways to pandemic pivot. Now it’s turning its attention to the next generation of architects, artists, and designers who are graduating from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. This body of work is the culmination of two years of studio work and, while you may not recognize their names today, they’ll certainly be creators to keep an eye on. Say you knew them when by checking out the 2021 Graduate Degree Exhibition of Cranbrook Academy of Art, which opens on April 17 and runs through May 16. Advance registration is required. See cranbrookartmuseum.org for details.
Ryan Patrick Hooper is the host of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET Detroit’s NPR station (weekdays from noon to 2 p.m.).