A large oil painting is propped up against a wall at the Red Bull House of Art studio in Detroit. It’s a lush work, depicting a man and woman dressed in an all-black wardrobe dining over an elaborate spread of food -- whole artichokes, red wine, and plates of two fleshy pigs’ heads with beady black eyes. The man holds a cigarette in his gloved hand and gazes in the distance; the woman seems to be whispering in his ear.
The work belongs to 24-year-old Michelle Tanguay, one of eight artists selected for the House of Art, a combination workspace and art gallery designed to inspire and energize the local art scene. Artists from around Detroit are provided with supplies to finish their works and the chance to display them to the public -- as well as the camaraderie of colleagues from a diverse art scene.
Detroit, with its expansive post-industrial landscape and raw potential, has recently attracted a gold rush of young creatives. It’s long been a hub for the arts; the evidence is found in the rich treasures found at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the city has been at the epicenter of the African-American art community for decades. “Detroit has such a rich history of artistic freedom and creation, from Motown to techno to industrial design,” says Red Bull House of Art curator Matt Eaton.
The House of Art takes advantage of this legacy and spins it forward. The space in the former E & B Brewery is situated on a cobblestone street in the Eastern Market district in what was once a prohibition hideout; it has been transformed into a 14,000-square-foot studio and gallery. The Red Bull House of Art opened its doors in late May in a show curated by Eaton; a new crop of artists’ work will be unveiled about every three months. The current exhibition debuted August 24.
The artists selected for a House of Art studio residency receive supplies and a space in the group exhibition at the gallery, where they can sell their work for 100 percent profit. (Most galleries take up to 50 percent of the sale price.)
“It’s more than exploring the local talent pool that doesn’t get accolades and recognition,” Eaton says. “It’s about finding people who have inspired others to do what they do, having people involved and passionate about making art and giving them the opportunity to work in the studio with like-minded people.”
The entire process -- from conception and creation to display -- takes a heart-thumpingly short eight weeks. Red Bull will keep the studio up and running with gallery shows for the next three years.
Check out the November 2012 issue of Red Bulletin magazine (on newsstands October 16) for more of the article. To read the magazine on your iPad, download the Red Bulletin iPad app.
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