by Lois Jackman

Like the legendary bird, Detroit is beginning a phoenix-like resurgence from desolation and ash. A burgeoning arts scene in the city is characterized by small projects like Soup (a regular gathering of artists who share ideas), and the Heidelberg Project, which transforms neighborhoods by turning them into art, as well as larger-scale efforts like the Detroit Artists Market, the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit and the Russell Industrial Center. Large and small, the net result is that art in the "D" is cool again.

Pushing the envelope of what we’ve previously conceived and making new visual images we've never imagined, artists are on forefront of creativity. And often the mainstream doesn't buy into the unfamiliar, so artists are left with few resources. Time, money, materials and space are usually in short supply if you are a painter, sculptor or photographer. The downtown death of many businesses and jobs has further decreased the likelihood of traditional types of support for artists. With such a dire situation, creative thinking and problem solving is needed even more in order to nurture the talent and creativity that make our world a more vibrant and livable place. From the minds of artists come the concepts and vision that have the possibility of helping the rebirth of this great region and state. So what are we doing about it?

The growing arts scene in Detroit finds solutions to these problems through places like the Detroit Artists Market, the Russell Industrial Center and the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID). These spaces allow artists to create and display their work. Visitors can purchase art, attend workshops, events and showings, and in some cases, even become members of these organizations to show further support. Quickly becoming popular visitor destinations, places like the CAID feature performances from the likes of the Julliard School in addition to a plethora of local artists and performers.

Referred to as "Detroit's new factory of dreams," The Russell (in a building designed by renowned architect Albert Kahn) rents space to artists and small businesses in the arts community, and holds public events and performances.

At the Detroit Artists Market visitors can browse the work of many artists and make purchases, or simply enjoy the sheer beauty and visual impact of the art.

Places like these can provide interesting destinations for a day trip add-on to a visit to the DIA, shopping or even a hockey or baseball game.

Collaborative projects and cooperative efforts are the backbone of this emerging sector. They are not individual acts of creativity, performed and sold to the highest bidder, but are for the benefit of the public and the community-at-large. In a city that was once crumbling, these efforts are pulling the city together, solidifying its future brick by painted brick.

© Lois Jackman, 2010