3 Questions Reflecting on Art X Detroit

3 Questions Reflecting on Art X Detroit

Art X was focused energy in one week in one part of Detroit. Just like the Kresge Fellowships themselves it felt unprecedented and powerful.

So we asked the same 3 questions to 4 different people: A local artist (Andrew Thompson), someone new and curious about Detroit (Tunde Wey), a teacher at Wayne State University (Mame Jackson) and a student (Crystal Palmer). Feel free to add your own thoughts to the comments section at the bottom!


What was your favorite element of Art X Detroit? (Or what panels, performances or pieces stuck out to you?)

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Frank Pahl performs live accompanied by guest musicians, including Joel Peterson, amidst his kinetic sound installation, ”The Rube Goldberg Variations” @ The Scarab Club


Tunde Wey:

“I saw Monica Blaire’s performance and she was wonderful. I especially liked the diversity in the audience. People who I would normally not imagine hanging out together were all present having a good time.”

Mame Jackson:

“Much sticks in my mind – Marcus Belgrave at the Charles Wright Museum, Invincible in the Planetarium, Frank Pahl and his array of bells and gongs at the historic Scarab Club, Tyree Guyton’s installation of shoes on Edmond Street, Shawn Nethercot moderating panel of emerging young artists at MOCAD, Lynn Crawford and Steve Hughes reading new works at Leopold’s, Chido Johnson’s wire push cars, etc. etc. – but perhaps most exciting to me was the energy of the community itself, the excitement and responsiveness of the truly supportive Detroit community, that came out in such numbers that events were filled to overflowing.”

Andrew Thompson:

“Favorite Moment of Art X was being locked out of the Science Center with two of the Kresge winners, Cedric Tai and Sengor Reid, with about a dozen other people just hanging out enjoying the evening air in the parking lot with everyone else who couldn’t get into Invicible’s showcase performance.”

Crystal Palmer:

“So, my favorite part was Steve Hughes reading “Stupor”. I loved that everyone was jammed in Leopold’s new location and how Steve was able to capture everyone’s attention reading the hilarious stories from his brilliant book. I personally was crying because I was laughing so hard in response to a story of a guy shitting himself in bed next to his girlfriend. Amazing.
Next, Valeria Montes was pretty much the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. In the ambiance of the Rivera murals, wonderfully talented singers and guitarist… Valeria was spectacular!!”

With Kresge in mind, what advice would you give them for the next go around?

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”Jit” techniques taught by dancer/choreographer Haleem “Stringz” Ar-Rasheed of Hardcore Detroit hip hop dance company @ George N’Namdi


Mame Jackson:

I loved the big yellow X’s – made midtown festive!  The schedule was a bit too tight with some events ending just as others began at distant venues – making it impossible to get from one to another on time.  How about adding a day (or more) to the program and lengthening breaks between events – perhaps even extended Art X Detroit over a month instead of a weekend – eg., Art X Detroit: a Month of Sundays.
Also, how about artist-designed, painted shuttle buses (perhaps with big yellow X’s as well) circulating around the city during Art X providing free transportation from the neighborhoods to midtown (maybe even with the added enticement of having an entertainer on board – eg., a musician, magician, juggler, ventriloquist, rap artist, etc) to extend the venue beyond midtown and bring the experience of the arts to the whole city.

Andrew Thompson:

“Assume that the people you are marketing to (an audience beyond just the artists’ posses) will actually show up and schedule in bigger venues, without any of the events overlapping. Or if you do need to overlap schedules go with the Frank Paul approach at the Scarab club with repeat performances at the same time same place for multiple days. I wanted to go to everything and I couldn’t, so ended up prioritizing my friends’ event vs seeing something new (which seems to be counter to the spirit of the event)”

Crystal Palmer:

“Advice, even though the Science Center was a creative choice to host a talk, I don’t think it was worth the hassle of walking through a crazy busy zoo on a saturday afternoon. Susan Campbell’s talk was great and it was fantastic to get intimate with her project, but it was really distracting when all the families were exiting the auditorium since they were expecting some sort of like 3D underwater show or something like that… It bothered me that they didn’t want to engage in something that was new and different to them…”

Tunde Wey:

“Keep doing it!”

Is there anything that excites you that you believe will continue past Art X Detroit?

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(From left to right) Senghor Reid, Rachel Harkai, and Invincible define and discuss intersections between the community and the artist during ”Nine Artists Respond: Who are the Artists in Your Neighborhood and What is the Role of the Artist in the 21st Century?” @ The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit


Andrew Thompson:

“I believe both events helped put Midtown and New Center on the map for a lot of future audiences as a real arts district. A place that events can happen after 5pm on a week night. We need more of that.”

Tunde Wey:

“The conversations and connections made between people at both events, I believe will continue. Hopefully these exchanges will form the basis of something tangible and engaging…. ripples of conversation and action.”

Crystal Palmer:

“Lastly, I hope that the series of events will continue art appreciation past the Detroit club. Sometimes seeing all the same people at the same locations time after time makes the city and scene seem small and insular. I love that non-art people were enjoying all the free programming and able to experience culture without pretension.”

Mame Jackson:

What excited me most was the magical sense of community that developed during Art X.  People really talked to one another – the art and the artists and Kresge’s hospitality provided a stimulation and a context for discussion.  I hope we have energy, resources, and imagination to sustain and enlarge this discussion. A specific example of this, Cedric, is that I finally met you through Art-X, and I intend to keep in touch!