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Like love or elegance, art is a cultural construct and not a commodity that is designed to be bought and sold. It is an essence to be experienced and shared, like Thanksgiving togetherness or Christmas joy. Its hallmark lies in its uniqueness. Think of the meaning of art as analogous to the meaning of Christmas minus all the materialism and the commercialism. Those who seek to find the pure essence of local art in Detroit for less that $100 may find it in the following.

Midtown Detroit Cultural Center Area
3939 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 420-6000

For music to be art, it needs to be experienced live, and when scrutinized in its most minute detail, it must be unique. Canned music doesn’t pass the bar. Noel Night 2012 is on December 1st, and on this night, over 50 institutions in the University-Cultural Center open their doors to the public, free of charge. Here you can enjoy local string quartets, concert choirs, minstrels and featured soloists devoting their passions in a unique setting of time and space. For $35, you can experience the splendor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra with special guest Al Jarreau, the only artist ever to win Grammy Awards in three categories.


Detroit Institute of Arts
5200 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 833-7900

Even if you had $300 million lying around in a desk drawer, you’re not likely able to buy a Vincent van Gogh or Pablo Picasso piece because fine art in this category is simply not for sale. Moreover, as world treasures, their value is considered priceless. There are four paintings by Vincent van Gogh held in trust at the Detroit Institute of Arts: “Portrait of Postman Roulin,” “Bank of the Oise at Auvers,” “The Diggers” and “Self Portrait.” Technically, they are simply stretched canvas and some oil paint worth about $35, but their value as art is not in the cost of their components but rather in the esteem regarded to them by the cultured elite. Residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties have free access to the DIA, so “buying” the experience is really a matter of what it costs in gasoline to get there.

Related: Best Casual Art Classes In Detroit


“A Visit from Saint Nicholas” by Clement Clark Moore is one of the most beloved poems recited during the holiday season. Gathering the family around a fireplace and reading poetry is an exceptional way to enjoy this literary art. You can peruse poetry at Classic Poetry Aloud to discover which poems you like the most. The Poetry Society of Michigan coordinates numerous poetry events and many are provided for free.


Fisher Theatre
3011 W. Grand Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 872-1000

The best dramas in the metro area are produced by the Nederlander Organization, which operates nine Broadway theatres, three West End theatres in London, a constellation of venues throughout the country and its Detroit base, the Fisher Theatre. The Fisher is home to Nederlander’s ongoing series, “Broadway In Detroit,” which brings in the big stars like George Hamilton and Richard Chamberlain.

Related: 2012 Detroit Holiday Theater Preview


Detroit Institute of Arts
5200 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 833-7900

Yao-Fen You, assistant curator of European sculpture and decorative arts at the Detroit Institute of Arts, recently opened an exhibit of treasures sculpted by Karl Fabergé, renowned as the purveyor of fine art to the Imperial House of Romanov and European aristrocracy. “Fabergé: The Rise and Fall” features 225 pieces which includes six of the Imperial Easter Eggs and dozens of pieces executed in gold and encrusted with diamonds. The most fascinating piece is the “Peter The Great Egg,” which houses a miniature golden sculpture of Peter the Great’s statue mounted on a base of sapphire. At the end of the exhibit are ornate souvenirs and a special selection of dark chocolate candy bars from Russia. Tickets to this tour cost $15.

Romero Anton Montalban-Anderssen is the winner of the 2009 first prize in journalism from the Detroit Working Writers Organization. His work can be found at Examiner.com.