Detroit as Possible Future Artist Colony?

HTML Giant’s post on Detroit reminded me of a conversation I’d had about three years ago, not long after I’d found a series of very interesting (and saddening) websites on the decline of once-great cities in America.

It was over a table laden with very large mugs of very bad beer in Lafayette, Indiana that this was discussed with a clutch of writers in the MFA program at Purdue University. Detroit’s real estate is currently, shall we say, quite low in comparison with the rest of the country.  It has grand, tragic, crumbling infrastructure, as various websites can attest.  It’s a port city as well, with all the actual and figurative significance such a place affords. Wide swaths of Metropolitan Detroit have even subsided into open grassland, dotted with the occasional feral Victorian, clotted with vines. Entire neighborhoods have vanished, such as the one surrounding St. Cyrils, which used to stand near Van Dyke on Foster street.

Much of this makes Detroit an ideal place to transform into a great center for writing, for music (again, after Motown left for sunnier Los Angeles over 30 years ago), and the plastic arts.  There’s strength in numbers, we said over those meekly-fizzing beers.  The more that show up and the approach we take (as social experiment?  urban revitalization?  housesitting?  crime reduction drive?) could have artists as a sort of domestic Peace Corps to bring a formerly major American city back from the brink.

More and more, the artistic community is finding it necessary to join forces:  small presses and writers, exhibition spaces working with artists and musicians, etc.  And due to all the odd jobs we artists have had to take over the years, we all know a thing or two about renovation, community-building, and bringing life back to neglected places, some of these, as can be found in Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s photographs here, would be amazing in this new capacity. What say you, fellow artists? Detroit could be our crowning achievement…


~ by dblomenb on October 10, 2010.

One Response to “Detroit as Possible Future Artist Colony?”

  1. Yeh, but…do you know how to fire a subautomatic machine gun to defend your turf?

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