HuffPost: Discovering The Unexpected Art of Detroit

Photo: Joe Russo, Shepard Fairey Mural  

Detroit has been in the news over the past several years for what many might say are all the wrong reasons. More recently, the city has been appearing in the travel news as the comeback kid, a destination for people who prefer getting away from the same itinerary everyone else seems to be planning. Detroit absolutely is that place - a busy city with a difficult past and a promising future. And while you’re there, you should really check out the art scene.

Yes, really.

Detroit has a long history of remarkable art (see the first couple of entries on this list below, which date back to the early part of the 20th century), but the city’s more recent troubled times have given rise to an entrepreneurial artistic spirit in evidence everywhere you look around the city today. This is by no means an exhaustive list of fabulous art worth visiting in Detroit, but it’s a great start for enthusiasts headed to the Motor City.

Z Garage
Suggesting art lovers visit a parking garage sounds weird, but the Z Garage is no ordinary parking garage. Every floor of the 10-storey structure in downtown Detroit features huge murals by well-known street artists from around the world, making it a completely free gallery of some of the trendiest art. “The Z,” as it’s now known, contains the work of 27 different artists, including Dabs Myla, Interesni Kazki, Cyrcle, How and Nosm, Sam Friedman, Maya Hayuk, Smash 137, Pose, Revok and more. Not only that, the two buildings that make up the garage are connected by an alley, which is now part of the whole art experience. The alley is called “The Belt,” and serves as a space for pop-up art exhibits.

Man in the City
Art doesn’t have to hang in a gallery to delight, as evidenced by bright orange silhouettes all around Detroit. The metal men are known as Man in the City, by artist John Suave, and they’re all painted bright orange - making them impossible to miss. There are 30 Man in the City sculptures throughout Detroit, perched on rooftops overlooking sidewalks and highways, and they’re part of an art installation which is also a fundraiser for children’s art programs in the city.

Shepard Fairey Mural
More and more street artists are becoming famous, but few have reached the levels of Shepard Fairey - the artist behind that unforgettable “Hope” poster of Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign. Fairey has left his mark on Detroit now, too, with a 185-foot mural on the side of One Campus Martius.

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