Detroit’s art galleries continue to thrive, to the point that the concern of over-saturation has been raised. Tara Sheena, writing for Hyperallergic, wonders if the Galapagos Art Space moving from Brooklyn to Detroit will “be a blessing or a curse?” But a couple of Detroit galleries have closed, so the over-saturation concern could be premature.
Detroit Artists Market (DAM) is still the crème de la crème of Detroit’s art galleries. At this year’s scholarship show, DAM featured Cranbrook Academy of Art students, with Katy Richards standing out among them. In June, DAM celebrated Detroit’s 313th anniversary with photos by some of Detroit’s most renowned photographers, like Bill Rauhauser and Bruce Giffin.
Start Gallery postponed the highly anticipated second installment of Start Wars (tentatively called “Episode II”) to do an homage to the band KISS, which celebrated 40 years of “Detroit Rock City.” Heidelberg Project fans filled Inner State Gallery in October to support Tyree Guyton, who said that the rash of arson plaguing his signature project will not weaken his resolve.
Detroit’s art galleries continue to draw international artists, and there is nothing wrong with an art gallery preferring to show international artists rather than local artists. But it is important to remember that “international” doesn’t just mean white Europeans. The N’Namdi Center brings important African artists here, and in May, Manuel Mendive, one of the most important living Cuban artists. And in October, 555 Gallery and Studios exhibited several artists from Mexico.
The residency program at the Red Bull House of Art continues, now in its third year. But the number of artists in each round was reduced from eight to six. Katie Craig, already renowned for murals around the city, impressed at Round 7 back in April. Tiff Massey, who had wowed art lovers at Re:View Contemporary, made a big splash at Red Bull Round 8 in August. And for Round 9 in November, Karianne Hollowell and Nick Pizana got many accolades; both have connections to Wayne State University: one is a current grad student, the other a recent graduate. Unfortunately, the Saturday art workshops at the House which took place in 2013 did not continue in 2014.
A distressing trend in art galleries this year was the apparent need to have loud music blasting at art openings, making the experience of viewing art profoundly unpleasant. The extremely incompetent DJ at Passenger Detroit’s grand reopening seriously marred the event. Someone needs to explain to DJs hired for art gallery openings that the visual arts are the main event, not their repackaging of other people’s music. Also, DJs need to submit a playlist in advance to ensure that no morally objectionable songs are played (such as just about anything by Robin Thicke). The DJ’s actions can reflect very poorly on the gallery.
A couple of galleries closed. The Butcher’s Daughter, owned and operated by Monica Bowman, had long been in Ferndale, and was in Detroit’s Midtown for barely a year before relocating to New York. Moving to New York is not an option for Work Detroit, which was ran by the University of Michigan’s Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design before quietly closing in late April. The school’s students will still have opportunities to exhibit at other Detroit galleries, like the Carr Center downtown.
It is hard to tell if the Kunsthalle Detroit has also quietly closed. For being the only light-based art museum in the North America, the Kunsthalle is frustratingly opaque. Back in early November, the gallery posted an announcement of an exhibit titled From Robert Mapplethorpe to Wolfgang Tillmans and an opening date of “TBA.”