“Supersonic D. Artists in Detroit now”

Was the title of an evening organised by the Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art [FMCA] of the Detroit Arts Institute [DIA] last November. Now that the meme in the press of the United States on Detroit is changing from ‘that disaster city’ to ‘that city where all is possible’ it was to be expected that words like supersonic and even Mecca would show up one day or another. As far as I can see this was one of the most blatant examples: “What is it like to make art in Detroit now that the city has become an international mecca for artists, curators, and critics? Hear directly from native Detroiters and newcomers at the heart of this transformation as they discuss challenges and delights they have encountered.”

After the welcoming words by Becky Hart, curator at the DIA, and Allan Nachman, director of the board of FMCA, four artists working in, or coming from Detroit were given the floor for short presentations of their work. Afterwards a discussion and Q&A would follow, one in which the ‘renaissance’ and the ‘celebration of what is happening’ were to be the central topics. The four artists however had not planned at only playing out that card. To Marie Hermann, Richard Lewis, Veronika Scott and John Egner, Detroit was many things, but not yet a haven for artists. Hermann recalled her reasons for moving here: 1. Cheapness, 2. Thereby offering the possibility to spend many hours of real work in her studio, 3. Space in town and 4. the extremely helpful surroundings. Lewis was a bit more blunt. He had moved from Detroit to New York to return to Detroit in 2002. Because, as he mentioned, he is “out of sync with the art world and never feels out of place in Detroit.” Scott on the other hand is a Detroiter of the newest generation and did live to up the moment, calling her Detroit pride something that helped her in making the first steps in her career. Egner who while presenting his works in a beautifully orchestrated amateuristic way remarked “he just did want to talk about himself” had trouble believing in the latest renaissance, as “artists did save many neighbourhood, but I don’t know if they are able to save Detroit.” The most painful remark of the evening was by him as well. When asked why then all the artists were coming over to Detroit, he answered: “it’s the hopelesness artists thrive on.”

For some information on the artists see links below:
Marie Hermann

Richard Lewis

Veronika Scott

John Egner

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