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Is It A House … Or Is It Art?

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The Art House (WWJ/Sandra McNeill)

The Art House (WWJ/Sandra McNeill)

sandramcneill Sandra McNeill
After graduating from the University of Michigan, Sandra McNeill...
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DETROIT (WWJ) – There’s a lot of activity these days in midtown, where crews are finishing construction on a new ranch house across from the Whitney.

The home next to the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is drawing attention from passersby, according to the museum’s Founding Director Emeritus Marsha Miro.

“It’s funny, because they can’t figure out what we’re doing,” said Miro, “building a house in the middle of midtown Detroit.”


Marsha Miro, the founding director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit talks about Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead.

But it’s not just any house. This is a work of art by the late Mike Kelley, an internationally renowned contemporary artist. Kelley replicated the exact home he grew up in on Palmer Street in Westland in the 1950’s. So how is that art?

Miro said it’s a home taken out of its original environment. “An artist can say this is art,” said Miro. “And then it becomes art. It’s as simple as that.”

Contemporary art, Miro said, is meant to evoke feelings and make people think. Not just about the time period Miro is recreating, but about their own memories and lives as well. “When you come here, you will see that being inside that house makes you feel like you’re back in the 50’s in a small subdivision house. And it helps you think about your past.” Miro said. “It’s not just about how it looked, it’s about how it felt. And why we felt that way.”

The top floor of the house will feature a lending library and exhibits for the public. The basement, though, is a bizarre maze that will be for artists to work only. The design, said Miro, is almost disorienting. There are no windows or doors, and the artists will have to climb ladders on the walls to get from room to room.

What will go on down there? “Well, we’re not asking,” Miro joked. “Those two floors still belong to Mike and his foundation and they’re overseeing what goes down there.”

The museum will have a free barbecue for the public on May 11th to open the house, featuring live music.  Details on the house can be found at mocadetroit.org.

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