We were surprised to see a long history of Detroit street art in The ring, from all places. Although billing itself as a pop culture website, the website was founded by sportswriter Bill Simmons in 2016 and primarily covers sports. But the website released a nuanced exploration of Detroit’s street art scene on Thursday that is well worth reading for anyone interested in art and urban dynamics and the collision of the two.
“The Rise and Risk of the Wall Economy,” a nearly 6,000-word deep dive, picks up several different threads — many of which have already been covered here in MTincluding Murals in the Market, Mayor Mike Duggan’s graffiti war, anxiety over gentrification, Ford’s acquisition of Michigan Central Station, neighborhood branding (thanks for the link! ) – and masterfully synthesizes them into one insightful piece.
The central question is the role played, unconsciously or not, by “hungry” artists in the transformation of cities. In addition to physically transforming walls with colorful murals, artwork can, especially in the hands of businesses, serve to transform entire neighborhoods, raising the profile (and real estate listings) of previously underserved communities. assessed.
An example passage:
Street art is now a business, not just a passion project, and artists are entrepreneurs. Although they are finding more opportunities than ever to paint, disentangling the joy of labor from the complexity of its impacts is becoming more difficult as the art itself becomes more valuable to more people. “If a developer has a lot of money and they’re going to pay me and I need a job, weighing my morals against my rent is a very difficult decision to make,” says Ellen Rutt, an artist of Detroit who has painted both commercial and non-commercial murals. “And I feel like it’s hard to empower the people who are most at risk and also feeling the effects of gentrification. That’s one of the hardest parts – sometimes I paint a wall and I literally paint myself from my own apartment.
The story leaves the question open – no one knows how things will turn out in Detroit – but it does raise some interesting points along the way. You can read the whole story here.
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