Happy Endings: Detroit Gets the Summer Show Treatment in Chelsea

(From the collection of The Henry Ford Museum)

When I tell someone my family is from Detroit, the person will respond by saying, “Oh, Detroit!” in one of two ways: the first is suspicious, as if I had said that I was just released from prison the day before; the second, now that Detroit has become a national buzzword for either hopelessness or high expectations, is the inauthentic enthusiasm reserved for the perennial stories in the national media about the city’s so-called “renaissance,” many of which focus on the small pocket of Corktown, a white enclave that is the site of the popular Slows Barbecue restaurant. “[T]he area is now a vibrant community of passionate restaurateurs, stylish shopkeepers, meticulous coffee connoisseurs and craft cocktailers,” went one article in The New York Times, from June, which argues implicitly that the area is good because it doesn’t resemble Detroit at all.

Such optimism tends to ignore details like a city of 700,000 being run during bankruptcy proceedings by an emergency manager, a non-elected lawyer from Ft. Lauderdale named Kevyn Orr, and city officials turning off water for thousands of residents with delinquent accounts, which has drawn the attention of the United Nations. All of these realities in turn give way to apocrypha mongering such as: droves of helpless souls dying of thirst in their houses while the city callously hoards precious fluids, or residents frantically swimming across the Detroit River to escape to the safe haven of Canada. Detroit, like anything else, is never as bad or good as people make it out to be. Read More


Philanthropic Organizations Pledge $330 M. Toward Detroit Pensions and Protecting DIA Artwork

The Detroit Institute of Arts.

U.S. Chief District Judge Gerald Rosen announced today that several foundations have pledged a total of $330 million to help Detroit’s unpaid pensions and to further prevent the de-accessioning of the Detroit Institute of Arts. The Detroit Free Press cautions that “the pledges do not by themselves mean that pensions and DIA art are now beyond the reach of creditors,” but will work toward “an overall balanced settlement of disputes in the bankruptcy.” The organizations themselves released a statement this afternoon, which you can read in full below.

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Detroit’s Emergency Manager Is Making $275,000 a Year

Kevyn Orr. (Courtesy

As we count our blessings this holiday season–I, for instance, ate a bag of Peanut M&Ms for dinner last night–let’s take a moment to consider Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency manager and the man who started the ball rolling on the argument that the collection of the Detroit Institute of the Arts was not immune to Read More


D.I.A. Director Responds to Media Maelstrom

Graham W. J. Beal. (Courtesy Youtube)

In a letter to The New York Times, Graham W.J. Beal, the director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, has a swift and rational response to the media’s quite sensational take on the possibility of the museum selling its collection to help pay off Detroit’s multibillion-dollar debt. It’s worth reading in full, but here’s the kicker:

“After two months of hectic coverage, I call upon journalists to resist the temptation to jump to disaster scenarios or to make the D.I.A.’s singular and highly complicated situation part of a broader story about the structural challenges faced by museums in general.”

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Hyperallergic Thinks Peter Schjeldahl Should Be Fired

Detroit Institute of Art. (Courtesy

There’s been a lot of ink spilled in the last few weeks over Detroit’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, discussing the hypothetical sale of the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts to pay off the city’s estimated $18 billion debt. The discussion has become slightly more heated since Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy one Read More


Michigan House, Governor Are in No Rush to Protect DIA Collection

John Singleton Copley's 'Watson and the Shark,' 1782. (Courtesy DIA)

Even if the Michigan State Senate passes a bill that aims to shield the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection from being sold off in the event of a bankruptcy hearing, the state’s House of Representatives is unlikely to take up the issue until the fall. The House’s spokesperson tells the Detroit Free Press that the body has no plans to vote on the issue until after its two-month recess, which begins later this month. Read More