The automobile industry was literally a mecca for highly skilled draftsmen, clay modelers, metal workers, design engineers, color experts, sound engineers and blue-collar workers with precision-driven manual dexterity. Women who spent years working with their hands on assembly lines acquired dexterity that enables them to knit afghans, gorgeous sweaters and even entire outfits with impeccable precision. Clay modelers can sculpt busts of celebrities, 100-piece nativity figurines and ceramic pots in no time. Some draftsmen can meticulously sketch exact copies of Rembrandt van Rijn charcoals, while most sound engineers can distinguish “half-flat” or “half-sharp” quarter tones in 12-note music scales. This idiosyncratic remnant of the industrial culture imbues the local culture with a phenomenal admiration for and inclination toward the fine arts. Here are some of the best local art enthusiasts to follow on Twitter to stay up to date with the ever-changing scene in Detroit.
Detroit Institute of Arts
The Detroit Institute of Arts is the reification of Detroit’s cultural values. Housing more than 60,000 objects, its most famous holding is Vincent van Gogh’s “Self Portrait.” The DIA serves as a public trust for most of its major holdings, as opposed to being the legal “owner” of the works. Graham W.J. Beal, Director of the DIA, has appeared frequently on international broadcast news this year, as creditors to the city of Detroit set their eyes on the treasures inside the Institute. His careful guardianship over the collection has made him a sort of a folk-hero to art aficionados.
Broadway In Detroit
The Nederlander family empire owns theatre and entertainment productions around the world. Its Detroit-area engagements are held at the Fisher Theatre, Detroit Opera House and other beaux-arts venues. This Twitter feed has excellent photos and videos of Broadway shows staged locally, as well as frequent contests to win free tickets to events. Catch every show that comes through town with updates from this Twitter account.
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is led by Leonard Slatkin, heralded winner of the National Medal of the Arts. Slatkin’s philosophy is focused on taking fine music to the people; his goals met triumphal success. In late September, the DSO performs a series of DTE Energy Foundation concerts. Tickets to these events are free of charge, but must be reserved. Classic concerts are recorded and available for live streaming and subsequent playback. All of the important DSO events are announced on this Twitter feed.
Art Detroit Now
ArtDetroitNow tweets events for 90-plus Metro Detroit art groups that feature contemporary art. This is a convenient and practical account to follow, as it covers a conglomeration of artists in a single Twitter feed. Groups featured include The Carr Center, N’Namdi Center, Russell Industrial Center, Live Coal Gallery and more. The writers put out comprehensive online calendars of upcoming events, making it easy to plan your evenings around art-enriching activities.
Whereas ArtDetroitNow tweets events about contemporary art, @ForwardArts covers classic events, such as exhibits of Rembrandt, Monet, Renoir, The Concours d’Elegance, Faberge Eggs, The Henry Ford Museum and any event falling within the seven arts. The seven arts are traditionally defined as theatre, sculpture, visual arts, poetry, dance, music and architecture. An annual favorite is the International Festival in Southfield, to be held October 4-6. This event will offer music from around the world, exotic costumes and dances, handicrafts made by folk artists and an array of foods representing dozens of cultures.
Romero Anton Montalban-Anderssen is the winner of the 2009 first prize in journalism from the Detroit Working Writers Organization. He has seasonal residency in Detroit Michigan, The Italian Riviera, and Honolulu Hawaii. His work can be found at Examiner.com.