DETROIT – Henry Ford Health System’s newest investment in the city of Detroit features just about every color on the color wheel. The artwork on the walls is splashy and spirited and the floor is the original – scruffy and worn – from days of a bygone era.
Welcome to ArtBlock, a 3,300-square-foot community arts building brought back to life to boost the bustling arts community in the Northwest Goldberg neighborhood.
Supported by a $200,000 youth and family grant from the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation, ArtBlock is Henry Ford’s most significant investment to date in public arts and arts education. Fourteen local artists working more than 150 hours over roughly 14 days created the splashy, spirited art work.
An open house and exhibition will be held from 4 – 9 p.m. Friday to introduce ArtBlock to the neighborhood. The free public event will include refreshments, entertainment and food trucks.
“We couldn’t be happier with what’s been done here. To take what had been a vacant property and turn it into this vibrant art destination and gathering space is just incredible,” says Mary Jane Vogt, Henry Ford’s senior vice president of Development, which oversees ArtBlock.
“We’re grateful to the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation for their support and to the local artists and the artwork they created.”
ArtBlock is located at 1411 Holden and Lincoln, an area west of the Lodge Freeway and north of I-94. The Northwest Goldberg neighborhood is home to Henry Ford Hospital, Motown Museum and Tabernacle Church. Coming to the neighborhood in 2020 are two other major Henry Ford investments: the Brigette Harris Cancer Pavilion and a laundry facility to be shared with two other Michigan health systems.
Henry Ford donated an assortment of furniture to fill out the building. In a nod to nostalgia, sitting on the floor at the front of the main gallery is a metal sign with the name Lincoln Express, a popular convenience store that was once a fixture in the neighborhood years ago.
"Vera and Joseph were profoundly committed to advancing opportunities for youth and family within their hometown," says Virginia Romano, the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation’s executive director. "ArtBlock's multitude of partnerships bolsters the neighborhood's rich cultural legacy, creating a gathering space with accessible youth programming."
ArtBlock features five public art installations including two exterior murals, a curated interior display stylized graffiti, a textile installation and two interactive rideable hippopotamuses created from fabricated metal. 1xRUN, the Detroit-based arts publisher behind Murals in the Market, curated the art installations in collaboration with Henry Ford.
“We have collaborated with all of the artists that have made this project come to life over the years and to see them all work together has been an inspiration,” says Roula David, executive director of 1xRun. “Working across civic, public and commission art projects like the ArtBlock is at the core of our mission at 1xRUN. We’re excited to see the impact this project will have.“
ArtBlock will offer youth and family programming, with a focus on inclusive, accessible and high-quality workshops. Green Living Science, a community partner that works with students and families in Detroit, will coordinate monthly artist workshops and provide environmental education.
MEDIA CONTACT: David Olejarz / David.Olejarz@hfhs.org / 313.874.4094
EDITOR’S NOTE: Participating artists in ARTblock are:
- Bad Dad 907
- Juan Martinez
- Amy Fisher Price
- Kobie Soloman
- SW Freddy
- Michelle Tanguay