Posts Tagged ‘wall art’

There are some interesting portraits on a couple of old, historic buildings in Detroit. They are big, beautiful, colorful paintings of historical, influential, political, and literary Detroiters.

I first noticed them about a year ago on a 3-story building on Grand River Avenue near I-94. The portraits on the building caught my eye as I was riding my bicycle up the avenue. The old turn of the century brick building is home to 16 impressive portraits that include Chief Pontiac, former mayor Hazen Pingree, community activist Grace Boggs, former Detroit city council member Maryann Mahaffey, Rosa Parks, Jazz composer Yusef Lateef, and many others. They are installed in the window openings of the building.

Grand River Avenue portrait gallery

Grand River Avenue portrait gallery

Maryann Mahaffey - former Detroit City Council member

Maryann Mahaffey – former Detroit City Council member

Helen Thomas, Yusef Lateef, Michael Alston (Wheel Chair Mike) and Tecumseh

Helen Thomas, Yusef Lateef, Michael Alston (Wheel Chair Mike) and Tecumseh

Now I see that a few more have gone up on a vintage 2-story boarded-up building that is home to a liquor store on the first floor. That particular building is on Trumbull Street at the I-94 exit/service drive in the city’s historic Woodbridge neighborhood. Ten portraits are on that building and they cover the boarded up windows facing Trumbull. All of the individual portraits are Detroit literary figures. They include Naomi Long Madgett, Bill Harris, Lolita Hernandez, Terry Blackhawk, Melba Joyce Boyd, Philip Levine, Mick Vranich, Dudley Randall, Robert Hayden, and Sixto Rodriguez.


Trumbull Street portraits

Trumbull Street portraits

The portraits are all the work of Nicole MacDonald, a Detroit based artist. They are part of an ongoing project called The Detroit Portrait Series. The current portraits found on Grand River and on Trumbull streets are truly some of the finest public art in Detroit, especially from a historic perspective. It will be interesting to see what comes next (and where) in this series of portraits.

Kudos to the artist Nicole MacDonald, nice work!



Read Full Post »

Over the years, Detroit’s Historic Eastern Market has been a hot spot of colorful wall murals. Much of their visual content builds on the market theme of fruits, vegetables and meats. Others themes have been created by local and international street artists, and they feature a variety of strong graphic elements, dreamy caricatures and cartoonish looking characters. Also found on the walls are murals featuring highly stylized letters and striking abstract designs and illustrations.

Building on the market’s rich heritage of street art, the Eastern Market Corporation (in conjunction with a local art gallery, various sponsors and partners) has created a week-long street art event called Murals in the Market. Over 45 Detroit, out-of-state and international street artists have been invited to paint murals in a range of styles on many of the buildings throughout the market. The event got under way on September 17th and runs through the 25th.

Below are a few early photos I took of some of the incomplete murals while riding throughout the market on my bicycle over the past weekend. Many of the finished wall art pieces will soar 20 to 30 feet, and they’ll be at least that wide. Look for final images of the pieces featured below in an upcoming blog entry.

Nosego Woes_2586

Fel3000 E Mkt_2568

Beau Stanton E Mkt_2572

Outline on white bldg E Mkt_2575

Rick Williams E Mkt_2578

Sydney G Games E Mkt _2579

It was quite interesting to see how the artists worked the walls one small section at a time, and it will be exciting to see how their pieces evolve into the final stage.

Stay tuned!

Read Full Post »

There is an old, historic industrial neighborhood on the city’s northeast side called Milwaukee Junction. It was established in the late 1890s as a manufacturing hub. It’s a place where a series of railroad junctions all came together in support of the expanding automobile manufacturing industry. In that area is an old four-story, unassuming, brick factory that has recently gone through a huge change.

The modest, vintage building is now home to some of the city’s best outdoor wall art. One side features an engaging, colorful, collaborative mural by street artists RSK, The YOK, Sheryo, PHYBR, and others. Another wall is home to a work by Malt. It is one of many in his Acid Forest series. One other piece, the largest on the building, was recently completed by one of Australia’s most progressive street artist, David “MEGGS” Hooke. That expansive mural is entitled “Rise Up”

Collaborative mural on an adjoining wall

Collaborative mural on one of the walls

Some of the detail within the piece

Some of the detail within the piece

Malt's Acid Forest

Malt’s Acid Forest

Rise Up is the largest piece of wall art MEGGS he has ever taken on, and it’s probably the largest in the City of Detroit. The amazing, colorful, highly detailed mural covers over 6,000 square feet of wall space. It spreads across four stories of the old factory wall. A major focus point of the artwork is a huge head of a tiger. The head is two stories tall, which equals at least 30’ in height.


Finished piece by MEGGS

The tiger head is at least 30' tall

The tiger head is at least 30′ tall

I was fortunate to discover this piece on Russell Street at Trombly while MEGGS was working on it in its early stages. At that time the content was being sketched out on the brick wall. Watching the progress, I was amazed at the speed in which this giant piece of art was created. He managed to sketch it out and complete it in about 10 days. I caught the early stages of the mural around October 17th and was blown away when I saw the final, completed piece on October 27th.

Early stages

Early stages

Close to the finish. Note the hydraulic lift

Close to the finish. Note the hydraulic lift

Another view of the finished mural

Another view of the finished mural

Considering the size of the project and the limited reach offered from a mobile lift MEGGS was working from; the scale, proportion, and use of color are incredible. I don’t understand how the street artists can create something of this magnitude with a few rollers and paint from spray cans, but it is impressive.

I also like the pieces along the base of the wall, just below Rise Up. They are the work of Detroit graffiti artists Tead, Elmer and RAWR.

In a recent social media posting MEGGS describes the Rise Up piece as “an iconic symbol of the city and past glory for over a century, it is now a symbol of future hope; to rise up against great odds”.  Beautiful!

Read Full Post »

I see plenty of wall art on my bicycle rides. Some of the many pieces found on the walls of Detroit are colorful, abstract in design, and the execution can be flawless. Others incorporate monsters, birds and historical figures. I’ve also seen lively cartoon characters that cover the sides of walls.

Recently I revisited a site to show a friend a specific piece of wall art on an adjoining building. While poking around that area I spotted a set of painted dancers that I had completely forgotten about. They were painted about a year ago on a couple of interior cement block walls of a roofless building that is in major disrepair. On those walls are five well done paintings of ballet dancers.

Looking at them I was reminded of how captivating they are. They feature well-proportioned flowing lines of the bodies, which seems to create motion and movement. Their legs are well-toned, elegant, and positioned much like a dancer you’d see on stage. The wall paintings also feature long, thin flowing arms that create the look of a graceful maneuver found in a sophisticated dance routine or ballet pose. One of the wall pieces is a side view portrait of a dancer’s head that is simple in design, yet realistic in appearance.

Portrait of Dancer_1819

One of the things I really like about these wall paintings is the emotion and lifelike movements the pieces seem to deliver. I also like that they are all two-color paintings. Looking at them, it is easy to imagine the hard work, training, concentration, and effort real dancers must go through on a daily basis during their careers. Everything about them expresses movement, excitement, and elegance.

B:W Dancer on white background_1817

Blk:Blue Dancer_1816

Blk:Purple Dancer_1814

B:W Dancer on Red Background_1818

Kudos goes out to the talented artist that created these engaging dancers on a wall in Detroit.

Read Full Post »

In last week’s entry I highlighted some of the large, colorful graffiti murals that can be found in the city of Detroit. Many of the huge, multi-colored pieces I’ve seen (and presented in that blog entry) have extraordinary detail considering they are created from nothing more than the nozzle of a spray can. A number of the pieces I highlighted have graced the walls of outdoor galleries for years, while others have been added to walls within the last month or so.

Fel 3000 Rabbit_8373

SolomonFish Mural _9964

Two Ladies on Wall_9749

Lately, there seems to be a plenty of new murals being created on the sides of buildings and elsewhere. Although most are designed and created by talented Detroit artists, it isn’t unusual to spot a piece by a painter from Los Angeles, New York or elsewhere.

Meca and others wa;;_6259

E Mkt German Artist_6998


This is the second in an occasional blog entry on the city’s imaginative graffiti murals. Since the works can vanish overnight, or change and evolve rapidly into something completely different, I hope to roll out more entries featuring the interesting street art I see on my bicycle travels across the city. In the meantime, keep your eyes open because you’ll never know what you’ll see on a wall in Detroit.

RSK Russell St_0925

D Cut B/W_9377

Horse and Lady Wall_1000

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »