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Visual arts

Secrets of the city

Detroit's hidden art spots down where the odds are stacked

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Published 9/16/2009

The battered abandonment, the veritable concrete jungles and the wrecked streets give Detroit its ghostly and troubled tone. It also makes the once glorious metropolis one of the world's most enigmatic modern cities.

It's true.

Blunt and simple: People dig Detroit, but nobody's rushing to move here. It's a wonder to outsiders — from Bloomfield Hills to Yokohama, Japan — why those residents who've the means to move away continue to stay, and how a city on life support continues to grasp onto what's left.

"What is left?" they ask.

But those who don't regularly navigate Detroit's busted up avenues have yet to discover the regionalism and power of Detroit life. This place of "quiet creativity," where imagination is acted on but few notice — from an outdoor mural that appears overnight or a just-opened gallery that's a multipurpose performance venue and film theater and place to do your homework.

It even requires effort to find the more "commercial" stuff too, whether it's after-hour nightspots or creperies, indie coffee shops, bookstores or galleries. And such anonymity, whether it's just lousy business tactics or not, is, as the cliché goes, a "Detroit thing."

There's a beating Motor City heart — which was once found in dozens of monstrous factories — that now exists in cockeyed places, like in those that produce art.

For our Fall Arts Issue, Metro Times surveyed five of Detroit's unassuming art spaces — hardly noticeable structures where theater is produced, where cinema is projected, where visual art is created and installed. You'll learn how each space exists for more than just one purpose related to arts, that the people behind the Abreact Performance Space, Fly House Detroit, Burton Theater and two galleries, 2739 Edwin and The Cave, are passionate about their work, and you'll learn that Detroit, if you know where to look, is far from dead.

Abreact Performance Space
by Travis R. Wright

'There once was a little theater ...'

The Cave
by Travis R. Wright

A third floor cavern exhibits concepts and confidence

2739 Edwin
by Travis R. Wright
Steve Panton’s Detroit by an 'outsider'

The writing on the wall
by Detroitblogger John
Stylized ad painters keep a vanishing tradition alive … but don't call 'em 'wall dogs'

Detroit Fly House
by Travis R. Wright
What's that in the air?

The love shack
by Laurie Smolenski
A dude named Beer nabs an old carriage house and the Woodbridge neighborhood might never be the same

Sister city calls
by Amanda Le Claire
Cross-border communication using a monster-sized slogan, an enormous projector, and an office building

The Burton Theatre
by Travis R. Wright
Projecting Corridor's future

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