Can creativity save a City?


It’s 40F and rainy today. It’s spring, right?  Standing outside and getting chilled it’s hard to tell that it’s not winter anymore.  It’s that damp cold that causes my poor arthritic dog’s joints to ache.  At first glance things still look dead.  But when I stop and look closely.  I can see some bright spots of yellow and purple where crocuses are blooming.  Scanning the yard I can now see other flowers are poking up from dead leaves.

I spent much of the morning following tweets from the Rust Belt to Art Belt conference happening in Detroit today. That’s why being outside just now made me think of Detroit.  Is it a dying city or a city coming back to life? Looking around you quickly the signs of decay are very easy to spot, but just like my yard now, if you look carefully there are just as many projects that evidence new growth.

Here’s just a few creative projects adding to the ‘visual culture’ of the city

The Burton Theater – An exciting and new independent cinema in the Chinatown/Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit featuring class art house, independent, LGBT, foreign and cult films.

Broken City Lab– An artist-led interdisciplinary creative research group that tactically disrupts and engages the city, its communities, and its infrastructures to reimagine the potential for action in the collapsing post-industrial city of Windsor, Ontario.

Pop Up Detroit is a collaborative effort of young residents of the city to make use of Detroit’s vacant spaces to show case the creative talent that resides in the city. Ultimately we hope that pop up Detroit will enhance the arts and culture of the city.

DETROIT LIVES!, L3C is a social brand organized around the re-invention of Detroit and the idea of using media development to project a positive message about the city. The brand manifests itself through a clothing line, public art throughout the city, filmmaking, a blog and consulting work helping area organizations project the right image of Detroit.

City Bird is a store, studio and gallery all in one, founded in 2005 by siblings Andy and Emily Linn. They carry a house line of Detroit-themed housewares, accessories and paper goods as well as work by more than 75 other artists and designers. They particularly feature work from Detroit and other Rust Belt Cities. Their store is a unique boutique offering up a wide range of gifts you won’t find anywhere else.

Some tweets to ponder;
“Art can transform strangers into neighbors, mundane places into vibrant neighborhoods” – Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD
“Arts & cultural destinations contributed $1.8 billion in cultural tourism revenues in 2008. More than golf courses!” – Jennifer Goulet
“Detroit is the crucible in how cities will figure out how to move forward” – Peter Kageyama

About Babs

I'm a narrative sculptor navigating her way through the ever-changing currents in what feels like an art ocean. Whether appreciating the calm rhythm of calls for art and exhibiting, or waiting to catch a big wave of inspiration to take me to the top. I just love being in the water. Formerly a pickle packer, theater major, crisis counselor and occupational therapist with a BA in Communications and a BS in Occupational Therapy, only to discover I've always been an artist. My work grows from a strong connection to people and a passion for discovering the beauty in ordinary things. I sculpt figuratively in clay, utilizing the female form and women’s themes. Frequently my inspiration is drawn from childhood memories and my own short poems. Like each of us as humans every work is uniquely influenced by the past and present and has a narrative.
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