Thursday, August 25, 2005

FUTURE OF DAM AND DETROIT ART?

Are you ready for the juicy details of the DAM panel discussion that took place today?  Detroit's oldest running gallery is on shaky ground and is in desperate need of restructuring.  Although, there are specific issues that are to blame with DAM slow decline, the lagging Michigan economy and lack of art enthusiasm still sits at the top of the list of culprits.  Yes, DAM has problems but look at other galleries.  Revolution is closing. Others have already closed. There is a buzz with new spaces downtown, all sharing a lot of numbers in common (555, 4731, and 101up) but collectors and avid art seers haven't felt at ease with these new spaces.  Trust is key and if galleries continue on like unstable parents to artists and collectors no one will benefit or ever feel comfortable spending money or showing.

As I sat down in the basement level of the Detroit Historical Museum, the discussion felt more like a first day back at school.  Marilyn Weaton, who sits on the Detroit Art Council and also runs a strategic planning business, was brought onboard with DAM to assess the situation and provide the DAM board with statistical data to help determine what should be done.  Wheaton, very organized composed a numbered list of questions that lead the discussion in a precise, prompt way of straight to the point dialogue. 


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Points of concern were the questionable uniqueness of DAM's mission, and the quality of exhibitions, staff and special events and educational programs.  Others in attendance included Sergio DiGuisti, John Cynar, and other established artists and teachers of Detroit.  Being the runt of the group I still spoke up and agreed with others that Detroit is in need of more galleries.  Michigan has a number of art institutions but has few galleries for graduating students to show at.  It was also agreed that DAM is in not only need of a new managing director, but also a larger staff to include an exhibition director and a fundraising director.  With cutbacks and art funding at a low, this makes it difficult to hire a staff when there simply isn't enough money to go around.

Again this brings me back to the sad point: if there is no money how do galleries turn things around?  Well, it seems that it doesn't necessarily take money to put a show on but it takes a group of devoted individuals to do so.  I found the meeting very beneficial because it shows that the Detroit art community will band together to stop another gallery from being put pasture.  Let's just hope that the root problem can be solved and there will soon be enough money to go back into the arts.


5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're keeping up with this. You should however remember that 4731, 555, and 101up combined do not even come close to equaling a Revolution. And with the future of the DAM also in question we're entering tenuous times. Do you remember when there was that symposium at the DIA and Mitch talked about Tangent being a place for artists to emerge...we are coming to a point where artists won't even have a place to begin.

1:18 AM  
Blogger ann said...

I agree! Those numbered places are good for a new place to see art and have a lot of energy but they DO NOT replace a gallery that has a respectable name and a loyal following. The problem with 555 and the others is that they are run by artists. We need galleries that are run by people trained/schooled to be gallery directors!

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

Ann, I just recently discovered your blogg, and I am so excited to have this new link to the Detroit art scene and all other things art that you've posted and provided links to. I have really learned a lot since finding this and certainly appreiciate your incite, information, influence, and sense of humor. Thanks so much! Especially as an emerging artist myself and young Detroiter (well suburbanite really- it helps me stay connected. Please keep it up!

10:37 PM  
Blogger ann said...

Thanks so much Kelly!

2:07 AM  
Anonymous Rufus said...

Although Revolution is saying goodbye, there are some alternative galleries appearing in and around Detroit (those already mentioned,not to forget Primary Space) Hopefully DAM won't die but it can't be everything to everyone. There's nothing wrong with artists running galleries. Paul Kotula at Revolution is an artist. We don't need more art clics, we need people willing to build bridges. Galleries need to be run by people with vision and energy and a commitment to breaking the divide between artists and the public and educate them, interest them in the vitality and significance of art in their lives (not to mention access to funds). The city needs to give more incentives for the arts and galleries and artists studios need cheaper rent. It wouldn't hurt to have the DIA give a little push in promoting contemporary art to a broader public and offering brochures or some kind of information on local galleries to visit. There's a lot of potential out there an d its a big job but we all have to do our part and create the art community that we all clearly want and crave.

8:20 AM  

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