Swoon in Detroit

Posted by jdg | Monday, January 31, 2011

A bunch of artists recently came to Detroit through Juxtapoz Magazine and stayed for a month or so with the Powerhouse Folks to transform a bunch of abandoned/unoccupied houses on a block of Moran Street to the tune of a hundred Hamtramck ice cream trucks. It was definitely one of the more interesting things to happen around Detroit lately [and here is a great article/interview about it]. I got to see a little bit of the work going on and a couple of the artists contacted me about exploring abandoned buildings (I've been trying to shed my reputation as someone who still does that, without much luck). I didn't end up showing anyone around, probably because my e-mails responses all said, "Yeah, I think they're filming a movie in that building right now. . . and Matthew Barney drove his Trans Am around inside that other one a few months ago. . . and that big one is cool but, you know, it's been on the cover of Time Magazine. . ." We may have finally reached the point where exploring Detroit's abandoned buildings is totally passé, even for out-of-town hipsters. 

One of the Juxtapoz visitors was New York-based street artist Callie Curry (a/k/a Swoon), whose work I've always enjoyed a lot more than some of her more-famous contemporaries. I saw a bunch of her wheatpastes all over Braddock, Pa. a few years back and she also hit the Cass Corridor in Detroit about four years ago. Here's a link to a short talk she recently gave for Tedx Brooklyn. On Moran street, she put up a bunch of wheatpastes in an abandoned house and that interesting process was documented in this short video (and there are quite a few pictures here). But. . . she also went out and put up a few surreptitious wheatpaste drawings around Detroit and Highland Park that she said were inspired by some of the Bangladeshi kids in the Powerhouse neighborhood, and I haven't seen them in Juxtapoz or on flickr or anywhere else. On a cold winter afternoon the kids and I recently drove around to see how many were still up. This was our favorite:

Too bad it was pasted on a garage door in gang territory, because some kid already marked it up with a GD pitchfork: 

Just around the corner we spotted these kids:

This next one may not be long for the world: an old man pasted on a burnt-out house with a demolition notice stuck to his shoulder.

This one is probably safe: it's in the alley next to a successful organic bakery in one of the city's nicest areas: 

I might have missed a few, but that's all we could find. There are still a couple installations up from her earlier trip to Detroit, and these two are my favorite: