Detroit – so intriguing, especially if there is a 2016 Detroit Biennial!

3.5 out of 5 stars


Robert Elmes [left] founder of the renowned Galapagos Art Space formerly in Brooklyn with Anthony Pieroni (seller of the property).

Have been incredibly curious to visit Detroit and check out the creative scene that is supposedly taking hold there. I would be lying, however, if I didn’t add how scaredy-cat nervous I am about going there alone.  But with more people and institutions moving there, my interest is definitely piqued. Three things I am especially excited about: the 2016 Detroit Biennial hosted by Galapagos (formerly located in Dumbo Brooklyn), The Shinola flagship store (love the one in Tribeca and imagine Detroit’s is even better) and the urban farming scene.

2016 Detroit Biennial @ newly founded Kunsthalle Galapagos


Over the past year, Galapagos founder, Mr. Elmes and his wife, Philippa Kaye, have bought nine buildings totaling about 600,000 square feet in Detroit’s Hubbard-Richard neighborhood and in neighboring Highland Park, paying what he described as the price of “a small apartment in New York City” for the properties.

Among the buildings is “an old power plant that looks like a little Tate Modern,” Mr. Elmes said. The centerpiece of the new Galapagos will be a 10,000-square-foot lake and he is planning about 16 months of renovation work before opening.

Preliminary plans call for converting the spaces into artist resident/studio spaces with performance and exhibition spaces.


Shinola (flagship store on W. Canfield)


Love the products and love the spirit behind the brand although must admit I have never bought a single Shinola item. I’m not a watch person but am totally in awe of their bike building prowress.

Shinola CEO Steve Bock, a four-year veteran of Fossil, says the company is on track to do $60 million in revenue this year — up from $20 million in 2013.

Also, in this West Canfield location, Northern United Brewing Co. LLC plans to open its fourth Jolly Pumpkin location in a 5,000-square-foot space. The new micro-brewery and distillery with a restaurant and tasting room will join Willys Detroit, RUNdetroit, Fellow Barber and of course Shinola in the Willys complex.


The new Jolly Pumpkin Detroit will join Shinola, Willys Detroit, RUNdetroit and Fellow Barber in the Willys Overland Building complex on West Canfield.


The Greening of Detroit/ Urban Farming

The Greening of Detroit is a well-established nonprofit resource agency with a history of successful and progressive initiatives in helping provide hope for the future of the city of Detroit. Would love to meet with them and check out what they’re doing in the communities around Detroit.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 1.04.20 PM

Burnside Farm occupies Kate Daughdrill’s yard and much of her time. The community garden she’s cultivated since moving to Banglatown produces food for her and her neighbors and serves as the backdrop to weekly community meals in the warmer months, which have steadily grown in attendance despite language and cultural barriers between Kate and the Bangladeshi families.


Kate Daughdrill in her garden in the Banglatown neighborhood of Detroit. Photo by: Mashable, Ali Lapetina

Also recently opened and on my list to check out:

Republic Tavern (1942 Grand River Ave)

Opened in February 2015 by Executive Chef Kate Williams in Detroit’s historic G.A.R. Building, emphasizing local ingredients, butchered whole animals, “extremely seasonal, nose-to-tail eating.”

So far reviews are mixed but sounds promising and the building looks amazing! Link to full article here.


Executive Chef Kate Williams


Design by Peter Gurski Design Inc.


GAR Building prior to construction


John Varvatos menswear shop (1500 Woodward, in the Wright-Kay building)

I did not realize that John Varvatos was originally from Detroit.  “It’s a very different thing, when you have your roots and your family and your friends here — and part of something that’s happening here in the city,” he said. “There’s something very special going on. I’ve been following it. I see the energy and sense the energy.”


Menswear designer John Varvatos speaks to the press and guests during the opening of the John Varvatos store in downtown Detroit on Thursday, March 12, 2015. (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)





Share this post on: