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This text is by Corrie Baldauf in her capacity and does not, necessarily, reflect the views of different infinite mile contributors, infinite mile co-founders, the authors' employers and/or other affiliations.  

Walk and See for Yourself

Corrie Baldauf

Walk and See for Yourself_01
Author unknown
Mustang driver, 2014
Hand-painted sign spotted on walk to Passenger
Is that liquid foundation used as paint?

Start walking and start seeing when roadblocks and broken meters are everywhere.

Each morning, we awake and observe our surroundings with dehydrated eyes. Blinking seems to create hydration. Consider that this hydration points to earlier origins and resources.

Detroit, not unlike any city under reconstruction, becomes hydrated by artwashing. Artists that live and work in rough and under-populated areas of a city provide a perfunctory luster that draws people to visit, invest and consider living in these areas.

Groups of artists that built out studio spaces in Russell Industrial Center in the last decade and earlier are artwashers providing presence that supports increased activity and security. When this activity builds, rent increases.

Artwashing sets a stage of light, allure and safety that creates a welcoming environment for re-development to occur.

What happens when the artist’s role moves closer to the role of a developer? Art recedes to a supplemental role in our daily navigation. In artwashing, the spotlight is placed on the artist’s ability to reinvent the function of a space instead of a sole emphasis on ability to produce art.

Now, in local art viewing, preparing the space is as important as filling it with art and audience.

Something new occurred in the walkability of gallery viewing between downtown Detroit and the Eastern Market area when Passenger opened. I would like to share the happenings at three art spaces that help inspire increased accessibility to art viewing in Detroit: Trinosophes, 9338 Campau Gallery, and Detroit Artists Market.

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On 22 August 2014, a few friends and I went on an art viewing walk and drive. To keep a real and specific perspective on the contemporary culture of art viewing in Detroit, here is our itinerary:

Passenger opened 22 August 2014.
Founded by artists Brian Barr and Lauren Rice

6:30 p.m. 22 August 2014

Our Friday evening started at Eastern Market; we walked Gratiot into downtown Detroit. Passenger is just west of M-1 Rail Line construction on Woodward, its renovation reflecting the labor being invested around it.

What is Passenger? Passenger asks the same question.

The windowed façade of Passenger connects the street to a celebration inside. Many artists local to Detroit and southeast Michigan prepared and filled the space with art and audience. The size and height of the windows brought to mind the view from a train. Observing the sunset through windows that wrap around two sides of Passenger makes an evening visit captivating.

On our return walk to Eastern Market, we passed the Start up and Virgil Carr Center. Walking accessibility is a key part of making an enjoyable evening downtown while Woodward is closed for construction. Eminem, Rihanna and Lions fans flooded downtown and added to the ambiance.

Trinosophes opened 9 March 2013.
Founded by Musician and event producer Joel Peterson and Rebecca Mazzei previously the deputy director of MOCAD

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Walk and See for Yourself_02
Tom Phardell
Bonsai, 2014
Image courtesy of stephen garrett dewyer.

8:30 p.m.
Our walk continued to Trinosophes across from Eastern Market on Gratiot. Tom Phardell exhibited thriving Bonsai trees. The trees and a collection of stones donned the entry of the space that oscillates between music and art. This is a space designated for listening. I’ve seen people listen here and I’ve caught art listening here. The next time you are in Trinosophes when the lights are dim, check for yourself.

figure 3
Walk and See for Yourself_03
Tom Phardell
Bonsai, 2014
Image courtesy of stephen garrett dewyer.

In this photo documentation, I saw an important link exemplifying support from one of Detroit’s long-lasting art destinations in Jefferson Corridor.

The folks making the collaborative force at DAM are in the photos, which simply proves  my curiosity about what one of our lasting non-profit institutions does. To clarify, this art itinerary did not come from the sale of art and exists because of the continued conversations and audiences partaking in events in support of new and established institutions, artists and viewers. When people that run established spaces like DAM visit newly founded venues, seasoned familiarity blends with fresh ideas.

Detroit Artists Market [DAM]
Founded in 1932 (led by Mrs. H. Lee Simpson)
Director Matt Fry

DAM recently established a one-year and five-year plotted vision. I predict the upswing in the economy will provide a place for an object-based nonprofit in 2020. Check out scheduled exhibitions and events this fall to see the efforts and transformations being generated by their one-year plan. Get introduced to the people working there. Ask questions.

The growing and evolving at DAM will stem from conversations, marketing and insertion as an object-based counterpart to public gallery crawls, events and festivals in the years leading to 2020. Artists and organizations that team for Noel Night, Art X Detroit, and Dlectricity create a human shield and a stage for future development in Midtown and surrounding neighborhoods.

While uncertainty about the maintenance of affordability of living for artists follows, it does provide a certainty of local economic improvement. DAM works to offset this shift by positioning artists and art at the forefront of their vision. DAM is thematically and geographically positioned to provide a grounding venue amidst the cool of Noel Night and the hustle of Art X Detroit and Dlectricity.

9338 Campau Gallery, opened 22 August, 2014.
a continuation of the wonderment once 2739 Edwin Gallery
Founded by artist, engineer and curator Steve Panton

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Walk and See for Yourself_04
James H. Dozier (artist) and Steve Panton
August 22, 2014
Image courtesy of Corrie Baldauf

9:30 p.m.
The drive to Hamtramck begins with a U-turn on Gratiot Avenue, under the newly refurbished Eastern Market Mural. ("Restoration of Eastern Market's Largest Mural Nearly Complete" Curbed Detroit. 30 Oct. 2013)

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Walk and See for Yourself 05
Artist Saffel Gardner in Kansas City #20 Jersey talking to visitors at 9338 Campau Gallery
Image courtesy of Corrie Baldauf

Artist Saffel Gardner opened Steve Panton’s new space with a solo exhibition, Until something else comes along. Standing in front of the gallery, and seeing Gardner in a Kansas City historic Negro League Baseball Team jersey reminded me that the last time I had such an enjoyable art going experience was in the Crossroads District in Kansas City in the early 2000’s.

Walking amongst crowds of people in the streets between art and music venues provides time to absorb the Gesamtkunstwerk, existence as a complete work of art.

Please respond on the ∞ mile “threads” with photos from your art viewing and sidewalk sightings.

Learn more about artwashing here:
("The Pernicious Realities of 'Artwashing'" The Atlantic: CityLab. 24 June 2014).

Special thanks to Vince Carducci for finding this article and sharing it on Twitter.

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link - issue 10: October 2014