Detroit: the Remix

Detroit:
the Remix

Peter Vanderwarker
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The role of the arts, the conundrum of land surplus, and the vitality of neighborhoods were the focus of close interrogation in October by Loebs participating in the 2018 Fall Study Tour to Detroit, dubbed Detroit: the Remix.

The Loeb Fellowship was last in Detroit for the Legacy Cities Bruner Loeb Forum in 2013, and much has changed in 5 years. The city has a formidable brain trust in its planning department– Maurice Cox, with Kimberly Driggins and Steve Lewis. Dan Pitera runs the Detroit Collaborative Design Center, and Marc Norman teaches in the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Earlier, Loebs were involved in developing the Detroit Future City blueprint to respond to the bankruptcy crisis of 2013 and restore and sustain the city’s health. It’s a city that inspires fierce loyalties.

In panel discussions and tours structured around the themes of land use and density, the arts, and neighborhoods, attendees got an insider’s view of some of Detroit’s most significant projects and heard from people reinventing Detroit. Photographer Peter Vanderwarker recorded his experience of the trip in photos.

Early arrivals for the Fall Study Tour had the opportunity to view the notorious Diego Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts with Ben Coleman, associate curator of American Art, and to take the Detroit: Past, Present, Future Tour for an overview of the city.

The tour stopped to take in the Guardian building

and the Renaissance Center

and were captivated by the Heidelberg Project.

The Willis/Canfield Retail District, which includes the Shinola flagship store, was also on the Thursday afternoon tour itinerary.

Friday's activities were based at the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art. George N’Namdi is a force of nature and the engineer behind an impressive grassroots community development success.

After a morning of conversations in their Topic Workshops, Loebs dove into an afternoon of local tours related to the themes of neighborhoods, land surplus, and the arts. The Role of the Arts tour visited Dabls' MBAD African Bead Museum.

The museum occupies almost an entire city block and houses 18 outdoor installations

as well as the African Bead Gallery.

At another stop, we saw the Pony One coworking space, the home of Rebel Nell, a handcrafted jewelry maker.

Rebel Nell partners with a local homeless shelter to hire and train women to make stylish jewelry from the detritus of peeling graffiti.

Amy Peterson describes her awakening, which led to the founding of Rebel Nell.

The Library Street Collective has turned an alley, a parking garage, and adjoining bars and cafés into an evolving work of art that breaks through the walls of the gallery and brings art to the people.

Eastern Market is a visible sign of the resurgence of local enterprises and urban agriculture.

Tessa Huxley and Andrew Reicher explore the market.

Eastern Market celebrates the contributions of street artists with an annual juried festival that provides neighborhood walls as canvases and draws entries and visitors from around the world.

A public-nonprofit-private partnership created the Dequindre Cut Greenway, opened in 2009, a pedestrian link between the East Riverfront, Eastern Market, and several residential neighborhoods in between.

Loebs reconvened at the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art for an evening reception Friday.

Maurice Cox, Detroit's Director of Planning, described his office's strategy of targeted investment in neighborhoods at an inflection point as demonstration sites for urban renewal.

Matthew Kiefer and Nan Porter back in their natural habitat.

Tracy Metz has become a Detroit booster.

After a spirited recap of the topic workshops Saturday morning, a guided exploration of Corktown was one of the tour options for the afternoon.

Bicyclists are taking back the streets in Detroit.

No matter what the city's circumstances have been, there has never been a lack of spirit in Detroit.

Self portrait by Peter Vanderwarker.