Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Detroit Art, Time & Space @ the DIA

Tonight I've curated a group a readings to follow the Detroit Institute of Arts Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art meeting. The event starts a 7 pm and is free. (Click here for information and here for a reservation ticket.) It kicks off the FMCA's year of programing based on the theme "Making Space: Imagining Architecture, Art and Intimacy."

We take "making space" in two senses, the processes of creating space, objective and subjective, and the location, i.e., the studio, the museum, the writer's desk, in which those processes take place. I will talk about that a little bit plus introduce the other speakers. Each writer will then speak from a location in the modern and contemporary galleries that provides a context for their presentation. People will move from speaker to speaker to take it all in, a kind of intellectual moving feast. There will be two groups, each presenting their work again to allow everyone to cycle through. I think it's going to be a great event. Here's the line up and what they will be doing. In parentheses is the artist whose work each reader will be giving their presentations by.

Group A:
  • Louis Aguilar is an award-winning journalist and nonfiction writer. His writing gigs include the Washington Post and Denver Post, and since 2004, he has helped to report the epic nature of his native city for The Detroit News. While in Washington, D.C., he ran a Latino film festival and consulted to the Smithsonian Institution on Latino programming. His 2009 book Long Live the Dead: The Accidental Mummies of Guanajuato, is about a Mexican city’s complex relationship with 112 of its mummified citizens. Tonight he’s going to talk about his complex feeling for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. (Diego Rivera)  
  • Lynn Crawford is an art critic and a fiction writer. She is also a founding board member of the Museum of Contemporary Detroit. Besides her art criticism, which has been published internationally, Crawford is the author of two novels, Blow and Simply Separate People as well as a collection of sestinas inspired by art titled Fortification Resort. Her newest novel, Simply Separate People, Two, comes out this fall from Black Square Editions—Brooklyn Rail. She reads tonight from a passage of Shankus, a novel in progress, inspired by Dashell Hammett. (Giorgio De Chirico)
  • Chris Tysh is a poet and playwright who teaches creative writing and women’s studies at Wayne State University. She is the author of several collections of poems and plays. Her latest publication is the play Night Scales: A Fable for Klara K due out later this month from United Artists. It was also performed at the Hilberry Theater under the director of Aky Kadogo. Tonight she will from Molly, the Flip Side, a “transcreation” of Samuel Beckett’s novel, translating it from French to English and also from prose to poetry. (Alberto Giacometti)
  • Matthew Olzmann is poet who has worked as a writer-in-residence at the InsideOut Literary Project since 2002. He also teaches composition at Oakland Community College and is the poetry editor of the online journal, The Collagist. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous publications, including American Poetry Journal, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Salt Hill, Atlanta Review, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of many awards and fellowships, including the Oboh Prize from Boxcar Poetry Review. Tonight he will read a selection of poems organized around a fictional museum. (Willem De Kooning)

Group B:
  • Craig Wilkins is an award-winning architect, urbanist, educator, and author, and director of the Detroit Community Design Center at the University of Michigan. He is the author of the 2007 book The Aesthetics of Equity: Notes on Race, Space, Architecture, and Music, which won the 2008 Montaigne Medal for Best New Writing and the 2009 National Indie Excellence Award in the Social Change category. He is also co-editor of Activist Architecture: A Field Guide to Community-Based Practice to be published next year by Princeton Architectural Press. His design and narrative work mines the nexus between identity, the city, and the spoken, and he will read from that work tonight. (Hughie Lee Smith)
  • Rachel Harkai writes poetry and essays about memory, survival, collapse, and sometimes about the post-urban landscapes of Detroit. Her work also often deals with other art forms, including visual art, which became an inspiration after she began making regular weekend visits to the Detroit Institute of Art as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. After graduation in 2007, she was writer-in-residence with Hub City Writers Project of Spartanburg, South Carolina, before relocating to Detroit in 2008. She has written poems about a number of pieces in the DIA's collection, a few of which she will share tonight, along with thoughts on the inspiration and process behind their creation. (Donald Sultan)
  • Steve Hughes is a beer drinker with a eager ear for listening. He collects stories from people he meets at local bars. He writes them then publishes them in the format of a small magazine titled Stupor. Hughes has collaborated on the layout and design with many of Detroit's artists. The art for his newest issue titled "A Hole for Brains and Candy," was accomplished by Faina Lerman. An event celebrating the release of this issue will occur at Hamtramck's Public Pool art space on Devil's Night. Tonight Hughes will be reading stories from past, current and future issues of Stupor. (Mike Kelly)
  • Vievee Francis is the author of two poetry collections, the 2006 Blue-Tail Fly and Dark, which is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Best American Poetry 2010, and Angles of Ascent: An Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. In 2009-2010, she poet-in-residence for the Alice Lloyd Hall Scholar’s Program at University of Michigan and in 2009 received the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award. She is a Callaloo and Cave Canem Fellow and currently visiting artist/scholar at College for Creative Studies. She will read several selections from her impressive body of work tonight. (Kehinde Wiley)


  1. I got tickets for myself and others and everything, and then I got caught up hanging out with an old friend until late. Did the DIA or anyone record the event? Just wondering.

  2. The event was excellent! Thanks for putting it together. Likewise this blog. Our dailies are sorely lacking in arts coverage. Only the Metro Times does half-way decent criticism and even that is intermittent. This blog really fills a need.

  3. Cedric, As Cooper notes above the event was excellent. It was well attended, I thought the readings were all great, and you couldn't beat the setting. Becky and the staff @ the DIA were really easy to work with. Becky & I have talked about perhaps posting the readings and such on the FMCA website. She had a photographer covering it, so I think some documentation will come out of it. The Kresge fellows were well-represented. More news anon.

  4. We are looking for a reviewer to cover our Michigan made film called, The Bicyclist head lining at the Detroit International Film Fest March 12 at 8pm.

    Please come and we can get you a free ticket and tell you how this strange travel movie took place

  5. John, tell more or email the info to the address in the profile.