In May of 2011 we embarked on a public art project with SCM Studios on Woodward Ave in downtown Detroit, our most historic roadway. This once vibrant shopping district was mostly vacant, with a few night clubs and a sushi restaurant scattered throughout the 1400 and 1500 blocks. The idea was to take vacant and abandoned store fronts and put art in the windows to fill the cavernous void these once bustling spaces filled.
With only a few days to get the project going we reached out to a select group of Detroit's finest graffiti artists, Rift, Fel3000ft, Malt and Sintex to help transform 2 store fronts. Memorial day weekend is always a sign that summer is here and with the Movement - Detroit Techno Festival pumping out the tunes just a few blocks away, we worked around the clock. The camaraderie we've shared on past project helped us work through the long nights and execute a kick ass production with limited supplies, scrapping wood from previous projects to create canvases for the install.
Once the project was complete several media outlets found the story interesting and we were able to gain the attention of city government and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. With the DEGC's help we secured additional spaces on Woodward Ave to provide exhibition space for artists. With the new set of windows secured we were fortunate to receive a bit of funding to help with suplies and documentation of the project.
As the summer progressed we worked with Red Bull on a 2 window installations that were used as promotions for the Art of Motion - Parkour World Finals held at Hart Plaza. The windows were also transformed for the Detroit Creative Corridor's Detroit Design Week. We worked with Architects, Fashion Designers and other creatives to transform the windows once again.
In early November of 2011 we held an exhibition at the gallery with 3 Brooklyn artists - AVONE, Kimyon Huggins and Ellis G. Each of the artists had their chance to work in the windows, displaying their art on Detroit's main thoroughfare. As the project progressed through out the winter we kept full steam ahead and on February 10th 2012 we installed 15 works of art by local and international artists that we both respect and appreciate their work.
In under a year Street Culture Mash and 323East Gallery has activated seven vacant storefronts in Downtown Detroit with dozens of curated installations through a grassroots public art project. Two of those buildings have since been sold, the others we will continue to curate until occupied.
Currently you can drive down Woodward Ave and see the works of Tristan Eaton, TrustoCorp, AVONE and Ron English in what was formerly the Michigan National Bank. The building wraps around the block onto Clifford where we have two pieces from The Tenderloin Project by Sean Desmond, the first being a collab with Mike Giant and the second with Benny Gold, Sean Desmond, and Jason Vaughn.
Sean Desmond and The Tenderloin Project give us a glimpse at San Francisco’s most marginalized neighborhood. Pairing Sean along side Detroit photographer Jason Vaughn shows a parallel between two places that have been written off by the general public.
In the vacant Athlete’s Foot building, you can see the works by Meca, Tom Thewes and Beau Stanton. Pictured below is Matt Eaton's contribution to the project, this is the start of a new series that will be featured in his upcoming exhibition at 323East this August. Meca, a Windsor/Detroit based aerosol / fine artists provided works based on a series of city scape scenes. Meca's new work will be featured in a solo exhibition at POP Gallery in Windsor this summer.
We met Brooklyn based artists Beau Stanton when he was on tour with Ron English for the Detroit Project over the summer. Beau was excited to return to Detroit and work on a mural project using photos and other Detroit centric inspiration he discovered during his travels.
Gregory Holm created several audio/visual installations in two adjacent store fronts and above those spaces activating the entire facade. Greg has made a significant impact on the local art community with his recently completed projects, Ice House Detroit and Fire House Detroit.
Woodward Window artists include: (in chronological order) Fel3000Ft, Kobie Solomon, Malt,Sintex, Amy Kaherl, Shauna Ruttan, Lauren Rassel, Vanessa Miller, Designers: Detroit Fashion Collective(showcased work by Adriana Pavon, Sarah Lapinski and Emily Thornhill), Marc Couillais, Thick Air Studios.] Ellis G, Kimyon Huggins, icon, Hygienic Dress League.
In addition to the curated installations, local street artist Eno Laget added some “Detroit seasoning” to one of the boarded up, and busted out windows of the Michigan National Bank.
Photo Credits: Tyler Shick, John B and Craig Hejka