City Transformation, Creativity, Events, Giving Back

Add your Detroit photographs to the city’s art scene and support the RiverWalk, too? Genius.

we are detroit

Going to a great party is one memory. Going to that same party and helping to create long-lasting artwork with a nationally known Michigan artist – and being able to brag about it or bring your friends to it – is another level of Detroit cool.

Ellen Rutt - logo from her websiteLast year, those who attended the Soiree on the Greenway had the opportunity to spray paint their way to immortality with Street Culture Mash’s Mike Han. “We Are Detroit” turned into the kind of art people genuinely are proud to show off to friends and strangers; its creation was an incredibly bonding moment that went far beyond a seflie or Instagram post.

This year, the Soiree is back with the help of Han and Ann Arbor artist Ellen Rutt. The graphic designer and illustrator is seeking Detroit-inspired images, textures and architecture to include in her mural. This collaborative work of art will become part of the Dequindre Cut, remaining a part of the cool fabric that is that area and Detroit as a whole.

Every image that you post with the hashtag #patchworkdetroit on Instagram or via the Riviere28 Facebook page would become fodder for Rutt’s imagination. Whether it is tile, a “Detroit Hustles Harder” sign, brick from Corktown or water from the RiverWalk, Rutt will scan and stitch these photographs together (if you make the cut, natch) for her latest creation.

patchwork detroit 2“Mike recruited Ellen and two other artists to participate, so we’re going to do two to three this year,” said Phil Rivera, Volunteer Manager at the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy who serves on the Riviere28 steering committee. “Ellen’s definitely going to be the main interactive piece. She is asking people to go around the city – photograph whatever you want. Textures. Patterns. Shadows. Whatever. Things you see around Detroit. We will all help her in gathering these images.

“The other artists are still a surprise, so we’ll be revealing the other projects during the event. People can get engaged beforehand with Ellen’s piece and we’ll tease a bit about the other work. Mike also is planning an interactive graffiti piece that people will have to wait until the night of the event to see; it’s a tradition now for the event,” Rivera added.

Rutt’s work – and your work by proxy –  is just one reason to attend the Aug. 7 Soiree event. The event is a glittering combination of people, music, food trucks, and art on the Dequindre Cut Greenway. There are two ticket options: one without drinks (cash bar) but does have food is $30; the one with the open bar is $55. Ticket prices go up $5 each after Aug. 1.

All of the proceeds from this decidedly young but incredibly cool event go to the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy. It is a 501(c)3 with the mission of developing access on the Detroit International Riverfront. The entire vision is 5 ½ miles of Riverfront property, from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park, just east of the Belle Isle Bridge, and will include the construction of a continuous RiverWalk along with plazas, pavilions and green spaces. It is, in my fine opinion, the most important thing that has happened to Detroit, and its work will make us a world-class city. Truth.

patchwork detroit 1The organizer is Rivière28, an auxiliary group within the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy that organizes fun and inviting experiences on the riverfront and Dequindre Cut for active professionals who live, work or play in the City of Detroit, while cultivating a new generation of supporters for the Conservancy.

According to its press kit, “Rivière28 aims to raise awareness of the Conservancy and its mission to develop public access to Detroit’s international riverfront from the MacArthur Bridge on the east to the Ambassador Bridge on the west. As the permanent stewards of this public space the Conservancy is responsible for the construction as well as the year-round operations, maintenance, security and programming of the riverfront and the Dequindre Cut.”

For the unfamiliar, the 1.35-mile Dequindre Cut greenway offers a pedestrian link between the Riverfront, Eastern Market and many of the residential neighborhoods in between. Phase 2 of the Dequindre Cut is currently under construction, which will take the greenway northbound to Mack Ave.

A little on Rutt: According to those in the know (my Internet searches), the University of Michigan graduate mixes her digital illustrations with found objects, vintage magazines, graffiti and street art to create her contemporary collages. These various mediums combine to create shapes and abstract figures, mixing the linear with the geometric. They’re handcrafted yet high tech. They’re new yet old. It’s very Detroit.

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