DETROIT — DARE-DARE / IMAGINATION STATION

2Oct2011

Detroit was a profound experience for me.  It changed the game.

I wasn’t  prepared for the sheer and terrifying decay of this once great industrial city.  I suppose I wasn’t ready to like this place, but instead found myself madly in love with it, and changed as an artist forever.

The project was organized by Mtl’s  DARE-DARE (artist-run centre) , who parked their trailer next to The Imagination Station (IS), located between downtown and Mexican town ,in the historic heart of Corktown, just in front of Michigan Central Station.

Well before starting our project, DARE-DARE’s Martin and Gonzague joined fellow artist Douglas Scholes and I in a local soup kitchen,  along with Jeff de Bruyn (executive director of IS). Jeff works part-time at St-Peter’s Church Manna Meals, serving food to the homeless. These dispossessed  were soon to become my daily companions, offering regular feedback and   conversation during the process of painting.

The project was realized on the abandoned facade of the Roosevelt hotel.  Despite the incredible rain and cold, I was surrounded by local artists (fel3000ftSintexMike Han and Chris Carden) who not only made art, but were activists, realizing ART’S power to create change in their communities, and pull Detroit out of the ashes of this collapsed American Dream.

Luis A. Croquer ( an American museum and gallery curator) expresses this beautifully:

Being a shrinking city and a quintessential modern site in flux, Detroit is a testing ground for experimentation and rethinking.

I’m grateful for the experience, and now charged as an artist to activate myself powerfully in my community and world.  The tragedy of  Detroit feels to be rapidly approaching many of our cities and countries globally.  I’d rather not see that, or at least not sitting down, but making art that challenges myself and others to rethink and test our shared ‘realities’, and push for a better picture.

http://www.vice.com/uneven-terrain/detroit-lives-vbs-part-1-of-3