Despite some focus on it in the past few years, the artistic scene in Detroit is too often ignored by the outside world. Even within the metro area some artists have trouble finding a venue to express the way this city affects them. Fortunately, as diverse as the styles that make up the Motor City’s art scene are, it does seem to be a close community with allies who care about them. This was best shown at a show called “Dead: Wrapped in Plastic (Another Morbid Art Show)” at New Dodge Lounge in Hamtramck a few weeks ago.
The event was assembled by bartender Andrea Bonaventura.
Bonaventura noticed many of the people she knew where very talented artists and wanted to bring more attention to their work. She decided to help her friends and shine a light on the talent that lurks within her community. With this sense of civic pride she enlisted the talents of Damon Trestain, Haley Stone, Crystal Mielcarek, Allie Nicholas and Jonny Hensley to combine with her work for an art show at her place of business.
The forms of artwork where varied from paintings to apparel and from seemingly pop art inspired works to watercolor portraits. The one thing every artist I spoke to seemed to have in common was a sense of pride in where they live and a belief that it helped inspire their works.
Mielcarek showed a belief that the diversity in the area helped inspire, not just culturally, but also the diversity of the areas urban geography. He expressed a desire to break free of the traditional views of Detroit. Hensley, who heads up Live Fast & Co., hand makes clothing in the area and says, “Buy local.”
Perhaps some of the most interesting love for the Detroit area came from Damon Trestain, who had portraits of the likes of Hitler, Rasputin, Mao Tse-tung, John Wayne Gacy, Ed Gein, Albert Fish and many of history’s other great monsters. Among this who’s who of villainy was former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. When asked about the presence of Kilpatrick Trestain said, “It’s not as if Kwame murdered several individuals, but to me it’s more a representation of Kwame killing a city.” As he said this, he did nothing to hide his resentment for the former mayor.
The show may have been small, but the Detroit-based inspiration hung thick in the air. The show gave a peek into the work of people whose formats were bred in the Motor City and are not seen quite as often in other venues.