Artists to Help Revitalize Historic Livernois Avenue

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DETROIT — More than 20 artists from as close as the local neighborhood to as far away as England have been selected to participate in REVOLVE Detroit’s “Art + Retail on the Ave” program to revitalize  Detroit’s historic Livernois “Avenue of Fashion” into a premiere shopping and cultural destination. The artists will work alongside twelve Detroit–area retailers who were selected to open new permanent and pop-up businesses on Livernois Avenue. The winners can be found at revolvedetroit.com.

The new art installations and businesses will debut Sept. 20, when Livernois Avenue hosts the Detroit Design Festival that day.

REVOLVE Detroit issued a call for entries for artists and retailers in June and received nearly 100 proposals. Winners were selected based on interviews, feedback from the community, and expert reviews from a panel of 28 Detroit leaders in art, business, local universities and community organizations.

“We received a huge response from artists, and proposals came in from countries like France, Austria and Romania, as well as cities here in the United States, including New Orleans, Baltimore, New York and more,” said Michael Forsyth, REVOLVE program manager at the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

“We received many strong proposals from both pop-up and permanent businesses based in Detroit. Some of the strongest proposals were from residents right here in the community. All of the entries were excellent, making the selection a difficult but exhilarating process,” Forsyth said.

The temporary and permanent art installations will include a variety of media, such as painted murals; projections of “living” paintings in ink and oil; metalsmithing; and photography.

Michael Owen, a contemporary painter from Baltimore, Md., will be painting a mural on the wall of Jo’s Gallery on Livernois that honors the legacies of African American musicians from Detroit.

“I’m honored that my proposal and the quality of my work led the committee to believe I’m the right candidate for this project,” Owen said.  “My plan is to talk with the galley owner and others in the community to hear who they feel should be on the mural.”

Native Detroiter Mandisa Smith and her business partner Najma Wilson will open Detroit Fiber Works, a cooperative of artists who work in a variety of fiber techniques and offer classes as well as sell their work, with a focus on community service.

“I grew up in the neighborhood. My parents both shopped on Livernois, and one of my favorite pastimes was walking up and down the street, looking in the windows. Najma and I remember how wonderful Livernois used to be, and we really want to be a part of the transformation. We know it’s going to be great,” Smith said.

The permanent and pop-up businesses will include street wear, women’s fashions, books and gifts, specialty bakery, coffee shop and more.

Katrina Studvent, who with her husband Donald owns 1917 American Bistro on Livernois, will be opening Social Ice Cream Bar.

“It will be a social gathering place for a play date, a first date or a meet-up. Our goal is to engage the community to get out of their house and meet for a cone and conversation. The families in the neighborhood work so hard, and we want to offer a space they can walk to and enjoy being with their friends and family,” Studvent said.

There also will be art programming and events, such as:
• “Word,” an eclectic workshop series in screenwriting, song writing and novel composition;
• “Side Bar Black Art Theatre,” audience participatory storytelling events; and
• “Just Speak,” spoken word and jazz series on trauma and coping, and prevention of teen dating violence and child abuse.

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