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Detroit's Arts and Crafts Movement(s)

Here's a headline I can get behind: "Detroit a hotbed of cool art? Ah, yes." The Globe and Mail.

How about this one: "Metro Detroit's Homeprenuers."Our own Metromode.

Let it be known that I love stories about Detroit; I have my Google Alerts on full alert for any good word about the city. It's particularly gratifying when the articles could spark new interest in our little neck of the woods.

Give me your artists, your crafters, your small businesses yearning for a place to profit. (Apologies to Emma Lazaru.) I may not be an art critic or know how to knit. But I do know that anyone willing to take a chance on Detroit has the kind of moxie this place needs.

Consider the case of Richard Rogers, president of the College for Creative Studies, a college of art and design. Here's what he told the Globe and Mail for its Feb. 26 story about the growing art movement here:

(Rogers) moved from New York City 10 years ago, much to the surprise of his friends. People think of Detroit as decayed, destroyed, post-apocalyptic, he said, and largely beyond repair. “Artists don't really look at things that way,” he said. “Artists go into places that other people aren't interested in and transform them.”

I've had the good fortune of meeting many local artists over the past six months of this blogging project. There's Spencer and Barbara Barefield, who organize the Music in Homes event for their Palmer Woods neighborhood. Spencer is a noted jazz guitarist; Barbara does photography and other medias. Philip Lauri showed us his mural. And I loved the Scarab Club with its artists in residence. And who could forget the Ice House Detroit project?

These are all good people who are making a difference in Detroit's art scene -- and Detroit as a whole. Note Rogers' comment: Artists go places other people do not. They are the change-makers. They take risks. Detroit is the ideal canvas -- they need big, empty spaces to work. They want relatively open areas to sit, contemplate and play loud music. They need to suffer for their art and drink good coffee (despite what Rogers says in the Globe article, we have plenty of that here.) We have everything they need, and our city government is working on plans to clear out even more.

I also have been hugely impressed with the urban crafts movement as defined by the women of Handmade Detroit. The Feb. 25 Metromode story, while mostly focusing on the idea of working from home, touched on the work of Handmade Detroit co-founder Bethany Nixon.

Equally important is finding like-minded people to keep you focused and enthusiastic about what you're doing, which Nixon found in craft group Handmade Detroit. "I think it's important to surround yourself with people that are going to inspire you and drive you."

As I have blogged before, living in Detroit can beat you down. Or it can raise you up if you find the right tide. People like Nixon, Rogers and even those Ice House dudes are making Detroit a place worth visiting or even LIVING in. So come on, you artists, you creatives, you masses. Find your muse in the Mitten.

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