Manufacturing Real Excellence
at the
Detroit Artists Market

by
Nick Sousanis

 


If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then perhaps artists and business people must not only be from different planets but altogether separate universes. The people behind MORE (Manufacturers of Real Excellence) hope to change that relationship and connect the dots between these two worlds. When MORE organizer Mitch Cope was asked to curate a show at the Detroit Artists Market, he began by focusing on the word "Market," and developed an idea for an exhibition/project entirely around the concept of marketing itself. Cope, the founder and former director of Tangent Gallery, as well as a curator for the international Shrinking Cities project and recent curator at Susanne Hilberry Gallery, is no stranger to bringing attention to the art world, and sees MORE as marketing the art, the artists, the gallery, and the city of Detroit itself. In his words, "Artists are natural marketers, but they don't necessarily market themselves."

From this initial concept, Cope set about finding "experienced and efficient" artists to be part of the team. Bay Area artists Jon Brumit and Marc Horowitz (collectively known as Sliv&Dulet Enterprises) works walk the edge between performance art and business ventures were a natural fit for this venture. Among other wildly diverse projects, they turned a San Francisco gallery into a business complete with a staff of thirty artists to help create "new products and services," which included such things as a, "a fog removal initiative for the Golden Gate Bridge," "a full-service 'office in a tent,'" and a "Swiss Army Cubicle." To aid in marketing the show, Cope assembled the design team of Jeff Clark from Los Angeles, Michele Howley from New York, and local designer Yuen Hom. The MORE team is rounded out by local "creative consultants" (MOREspeak for "artists") which include: Jeff Karolski, who will be displaying his Devil's Night marketing posters and diagramming the network that is the Detroit art community; Regina Reichert, who will be investigating the mapping of Detroit; Chido Johnson, who has created "office jockeys" which promise to ward off evil business spirits; and Christian Tedeschi, who is designing an outdoor neon sign/sculpture to help enhance the visibility of the gallery and enliven the Woodward corridor.

According to Cope this venture between business and art shouldn't end after the opening, in fact, "It's just the beginning." Cope has set up an office in DAM in which he and Horowitz will maintain office hours for the duration of the exhibition to help continue to develop the relationships between artists and businesses. Aided by such things as a slide registry filled with samples of local artists' works, they will work towards marketing the idea of what an artist can do for a business. Brumit will be taking this idea to the streets by going door to door and offering to collaborate with people on an art project on the spot or alternatively helping them to fix something in their home.

From the slogan, "Manufacturing real excellence," to the participating artists being touted as "experienced and efficient," the PR for MORE has truly adopted marketing lingo. The words sound good, but it's hard to know exactly what is being offered. This bit of irony is part of the point of MORE, for marketing is exactly that - the selling of an idea or an image. What's real comes after the marketing pitch is over. But even before this show has opened, it's already demonstrated that there is a lot of truth in the advertising. A number of businesses have gotten involved in developing the exhibition and have also retained the artists' services to help their own business. Architecture firm Gensler assisted in the development of the office/lobby. Spectrum Neon Co. will be building Tedeschi's sculpture. In a way the Detroit Artists Market itself could be seen as the first client of MORE's.

All in all, MORE is not only about breaking barriers between the worlds of art and business, but about helping people break through the barriers that keep them from realizing their ideas. To these people (potential clients) Cope offers this advice, (a slogan borrowed from a company known for its marketing savvy) "Just Do It." Stop by MORE's office and find out what their "mad skills" can do for you to manufacture real excellence of your own.

For more information go to MORE's website or DAM's or contact DAM at 313-832-8540 or via email at info@detroitartistsmarket.org . Manufacturers of Real Excellence (M.O.R.E.) runs from March 4 through April 17, 2005 with an opening reception to meet the artists and curator on March 4 from 6pm to 10pm . The Detroit Artists Market is located in the Detroit Cultural Center at 4719 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, three blocks south of The Detroit Institute of Arts, and one block east of Wayne State University . Exhibitions are free and open to the public. Free on the street parking available.
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