Everyone loves the unexpected, especially when the unexpected exceeds expectations.
Forget what you think you know about Detroit. The city has been having going through a renaissance over the past few years and I recently had the pleasure, thanks to Pure Michigan travel, to get a first hand look at some of the hotspots, boutique restaurants and places giving a new life to a classic town.
Using the Arts as a strong factor in the city’s building blocks, galleries and museums such as; 1xRun, the Library Street Collective, the Detroit Institute of Arts (where Diego Rivera’s famous Detroit Industry mural is located), and the Motown Museum, Detroit is attracting visitors who want to learn more about it’s the past and experience it’s present. Pewabic Pottery was a trip favorite – showcasing not only beautiful pieces of world famous pottery, the landmark also focuses on the brands’ founder Mary Chase Perry Stratton and her struggle in the early 20th century to be an independent female artist in a specialized medium.
Culinary arts were included in our tour as well! Whether it was a quick lunch at the famous Supino Pizzeria, delicious baubles and bubbles at Wright & Co., or a posh sit down at Savannah Blue, the food scene in Detroit absolutely did not disappoint.
Keeping up with the Arts scene, we approached our second of three stops in Michigan in Lansing – the state capitol. The ornate building towered over its surroundings creating the grandiose visual of strength and power. In a time where more was more, this building featured beautiful architecture and attention to details from the stained glass ceilings down to the custom door hinges.
Yet, the metal work in the capitol did not compare to the genius installation titled ‘Beyond Streaming: A Sound Mural for Flint”, by artist Jan Tichy at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. The series of intertwined pipes each contained stories and voices bringing visibility to the horrific Flint Water Crisis.
Off to Grand Rapids to see more of the art scene. We toured the Grand Rapids Ballet and were granted a sneak peak backstage and the inter workings of their recent production of Alice in Wonderland. The craft team constructed beautiful costumes for the dancers multiplying exponentially the power of art by marrying the two mediums.
Undeniably one of my favorite parts of this trip was visiting the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Through their archives of the museums’ fashion collection. Aisles upon aisles of clothing dating back to from the early 19th century, their assemblage of over 10,000 garments and accessories even left me speechless.
Meyer May’s iconic home was another remarkable stop on our tour. The home, designed and furnished by world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright is a piece of art all unto itself. A fete of style and engineering in its own time (built in 1908) the house features bold linear elements, ‘new technology’ for its day, and a strategic layout to provide privacy for the family. Did you know that Meyer May was the first retailer to put clothing on hangers in a retail store?
The arts in Grand Rapids have boomed to festival status with the creation of ArtPrize, the competition that turns the city into a living gallery – installations in every medium through downtown. According to Todd Herring, the director of communications for ArtPrize ‘In 2016, 1,453 works created by artists from 40 states and 44 countries were exhibited in 170 venues.’ Awarding over $145k to artists and attracting over 500,000 people to the area, ArtPrize is considered one of the top attended public events in the world.
To round out our final day in Grand Rapids we spent time at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park viewing the work of artist Ai Weiwei as well as the botanical grounds. Ai Weiwei’s story is fascinating and parallels many of the current day political situations that are present while expressing them stunningly through artistic allegory.
It really didn’t matter which way you looked in any the three cities of Michigan that I visited, the presence of art, in every medium, was always existent. Take time to travel, explore new opportunities and discover the unexpected.