Forward Arts hosted their first “Art Ride” along with an exhibit opening, clothing swap and more at Anna Scripps Park Aug 13.
The ride, which began at 1 p.m., took biking enthusiasts on a 12-mile public art tour throughout Detroit and Hamtramck. Stops included Disneyland Hamtramck, Heidelberg's Street Folk 2, several installations by Recycle Here! and Design 99.
After the event, attendees were invited to view a performance piece by composer James Cornish and dancer Lisa Lamonte and partake in a clothing swap organized by Clare Fox. The afternoon also boasted fort-building and book-making workshops and a chance to grab lunch from The Pink FlaminGO! food truck.
While the art exhibit at Scripps Park has been a work in progress for months, Forward Arts' founder and WSU alum, Dominic Arellano, said that a bike tour had also been an idea for a while.
"One of our mottos at Forward Arts is that if we come up with an idea, we have to do it within the year because there are a lot of things popping up, we can't do everything but we really wanted to be the ones to do this," Arellano said.
As far as Art Ride and the Scripps exhibit opening on the same day: "It's all about public art, so it made sense," he said.
After Forward Arts participated in several events earlier this year, the organization chose to emphasize both Art Ride and the park's exhibit as an effort to make Scripps a gathering place for the community and a public art venue. By bringing energy to Scripps for the event, Arellano is hoping that the space will remain clean and celebrated long after the exhibit is finished.
"The city isn’t a blank slate like some people say, there's history here and we're just a part of it," Arellano said.
The exhibit, which will be up for two weeks, features more than seven installations by local artists. The opening day festivities also featured additional public art workshops and the work of students from Access Arts' education program headed by Louis Casinelli. A graduate of WSU and Detroit native, Casinelli defined his program as a possibility for how public space can be engaged.
"It is an exercise in re-shaping perception about our roles as individuals and as a loose collective with relatively corresponding ideals," Casinelli said.
Both Arellano and Casinelli said that artists, projects and programs all need strong leadership and organizational infrastructure to succeed long term.
Arellano, a resident of Detroit for almost a decade, says that there are people in the city who are cautious of this revitalization. She says the reasoning being, that most of the change is coming from people who have lived in Detroit for less than a few years or from those who don’t live in the city at all.
"Too many people call themselves a 'Detroiter', without really earning the title,” Arellano said.