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Filtering by Tag: artist

New Changes at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Mario Moore

The Detroit Institute of Arts is a place I consider my second home. I grew up exploring the galleries as a kid. There’s excitement and familiarity when I walk into the Grand Hall and make my way to the Diego Rivera murals. I had one of my first jobs at the Detroit Film Theatre, which is a part of the museum. I have worked many different positions in the DIA—from the education department to inventory control. I have seen the in-house storage as well as the off-site storage building for the institution and I can tell you the collection is massive. The DIA has always been a part of my life, which is why I am closely watching when any new announcements are made regarding the museum. As a former employee and an artist who has benefited from the museum's programming, I have an interesting perspective of the DIA.

 Big changes are announced in news stories every other week. It feels like the DIA’s new Director, Salvador Salort-Pons, is taking the museum to new heights and I’m pretty optimistic about its direction—the recent 5 million dollars that’s been allocated specifically for purchasing African and African American art; the new Contemporary Art Curator, Laurie Ann Farrell and two new assistant curators, Lucy Mensah and Taylor Renee Aldridge (I already know Taylor is going to bring her knowledge to this gig).

 These changes have made me hopeful that the museum will move forward in ways that introduces new work to the public. I’m not talking about something that is self-beneficial; I’m talking about the possibility of what can happen at the DIA. When the recent funds for African-American Art were announced, the first purchase made was a David Hammons piece that cost somewhere between $1 million and $1.5 million dollars. 

Don't get me wrong, I believe having Hammons in the museum is truly amazing, but what happens next is more important. I like to think of the museum as a place of excitement, learning and reflection. If you walked through the current Contemporary Art galleries, it would look and feel like you were stuck in the 20th century. Of course there are staples like Warhol, Alex Katz and others but these galleries have been pretty stagnant since the reopening of the museum. Upon hearing that the new Contemporary Art curator wants to have a Yoko Ono show, I wasn't impressed. I'm tired of seeing the same names being presented by museums. Sorry not sorry. I believe this museum can take a new direction and include artists that are bringing new experiences and voices to Contemporary Art.

Now I know I am talking about two separate departments and I haven’t a clue what the funds are for the Contemporary Art department but I believe this department is in a position to bring home some of its contemporary greats. As a museum, I totally get that it has to collect and show artist that have long arching careers but what about those artists that are currently changing the way we see art and ourselves. I believe it would be dope if the DIA considered artists from Michigan that are killing the art world game right now.

Dana Schutz–an artist born in Livonia, Michigan—is someone to consider. While I was in grad school at Yale she conducted studio visits and we had a chance to speak. She told me that the first artist studio she visited while in school was the Detroit great, Gilda Snowden. Now for those readers who are not from Detroit, look her up. For those who are familiar with the Detroit art world, you already know Gilda was an art giant and her passing left a void in the city. How great would it be to have such an amazing painter, who said Gilda Snowden's studio visit made her open her eyes to the possibilities of art, in the collection of the DIA.

Dana Schutz,  Presentation,  2005, Oil on canvas, 120 x 168 in

Dana Schutz, Presentation, 2005, Oil on canvas, 120 x 168 in

Another name I’ll add to the mix is Titus Kaphar, a Kalamazoo, Michigan-born artist. Both Schutz and Kaphar are relevant, exciting artists that would reflect the city and surrounding areas of Detroit, Michigan. These are big names and as a museum, you have to have the staples—the standards the art world approves of but the DIA could move in another direction in collecting new, young contemporary artists. 

Titus Kaphar,  Behind the Myth of Benevolence , 2014, oil on canvas, 72 x 60 inches

Titus Kaphar, Behind the Myth of Benevolence, 2014, oil on canvas, 72 x 60 inches


All the artists don’t have to have a connection to the city, of course, because when thinking about a museum like the DIA, it has a responsibility as one of America’s greatest museums to present the world of art to the citizens of Michigan. But just for the sake of showing how much talent has come from and is still inside Detroit here are two young artists to consider: Kevin Beasley, who currently lives in New York, who attended the College for Creative Studies in Detroit for his undergraduate degree and has shown at MOMA and the Whitney Museum. Tiff Massey, an alum of Cranbrook Academy of Art, recently received a Kresge Grant and creates amazing sculptures and jewelry. Their work would be great additions to the museum collection or even curated shows. Other exciting rising and established artists that would be an asset to the DIA: Erick Mack, Jennifer Packer, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Senghor Reid, Patrick Earl Hammie, Anita Bates—the list goes on.

Kevin Beasley,  Unititled (shrink),  2016,  Resin, house dresses, kaftans, wood, 66 × 64 × 20 in

Kevin Beasley, Unititled (shrink), 2016,  Resin, house dresses, kaftans, wood, 66 × 64 × 20 in

Tiff Massey,  Vanity

Tiff Massey, Vanity

Like I said, a museum has to think broader. I hope that the DIA’s GM Center for African American Art, which represents one of the first curatorial departments dedicated solely to African American art at any major art museum will not just load up on artists comparable in cost to David Hammons but that the new changes happening in the museum will also consider new, young artist with powerful voices that are creating exciting work. 

You don't have to be rich to buy art

Mario Moore


Many people collect art for different reasons. I collect art because I'm an artist and I know other dope artist's work that I appreciate. An art collection is like an extension of yourself-- things you admire, things that challenge your thinking and things you can't live without.

Collecting art is not just something for the rich. Last year, I went to the 30 Americans private opening at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The show is a part of the Rubell collection and has been exhibited at several museums across America.

The Rubells have a private museum in Miami where their art collection is housed. They own the kind of art you see in the news or listed in Christies’ latest record-breaking auction. But their collection didn't begin that way. They started small like many collectors do-- usually during their college years. As the Rubells became more established and successful, they expanded their collection but always bought what they could afford.

During the talk they gave for the exhibition, there was a woman who wanted to know if she could buy a Kehinde Wiley painting on the low-low. I'm not knocking her hustle; she wanted to see what the prices were for something super small. She held her hands together really close and said, "How about this small?". If she was able to buy one of his pieces for the price I think she was aiming for, I probably would have been next in line.

 The thing about this artist is that most of his pieces-- even the smallest ones-- start off in the tens of thousands of dollars, probably more. The Rubells told the woman that Wiley was now out of their reach and that she should consider local and emerging artists to begin her collection. That was the best advice they could have given her. 

The Rubells and curator during their talk at the Detroit Institute of Arts

The Rubells and curator during their talk at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Opening reception for 30 Americans

Opening reception for 30 Americans

Most people believe you have to be wealthy to buy works of art. They see it as excess, but I believe it is a necessity. When you walk into any home, you will find pictures hanging on the wall. Photos of family and friends, and plenty of framed posters, knock-off prints from street fairs, or corny "art" from stores, like Walmart. 

If you fit easily in the category of folks that have framed posters of the man holding the earth on his shoulders with his queen sitting on top or the one with the black woman pregnant with earth and many more I could describe-- if those images somehow compel or interest you enough to purchase and place on your wall, you should definitely consider buying work from an emerging artist.

 Yes, you may have to pay a little more, but this work of art can be seen as an investment and will be more affordable for you, considering the artist has not yet made any huge sales. You will also be supporting a living, working artist. Hello, people.

Most people don't know that some galleries and artist are open to putting you on a payment plan. It might sound crazy, but get that joint on layaway. It's much better than the Walmart wall art plan you had in mind.
The Rubells built their collection using this type of payment. The Rubells said they once asked an artist if they could pay 40 dollars for the month during one of their art-a-way plans and the artist agreed. My point: ask and you may receive. 

So if you are searching for some interesting work to buy, ditch that print you were looking at of the man and woman chiseling one another out of rock and check out your local art galleries, go to art openings and search the papers for art events. The best way to get in on the ground floor is to go to open studios where artists allow the public to come into their creative spaces and see what they have been working on.

Opening reception at Red Bull House of Art

Opening reception at Red Bull House of Art

Me working in the studio

Me working in the studio

 These are the places where you can start and in a few years, you will have an amazing art collection of original work from dope, living artists. Trust me. The walls of your home will thank you.



Check out some Art

Mario Moore

What's up art enthusiasts,

I will be contributing to the BMG's Art page. Taking you to some of the most amazing art openings and showing you the world of contemporary art. As an artist myself and a resident of New York I will make sure you get a wide view of art curated through my unique perspective. Introducing you to some of the hot up and coming artist and convincing you why that art print you bought from Walmart was a bad decision.

I will talk about the importance of art as cultural content and how collecting art can be valuable for personal reasons as well as an investment. Some people see it as excess or a want, I view art as a need. From early cave paintings, Egyptian Hieroglyphs to contemporary art, these art histories all carry the human story forward.

So from private art openings, museum shows, to studio visits, you will be seeing some pretty dope stuff. There will be a focus on Black artist killing the game and plenty of visual stimulation to keep you looking.

Until next time check out some dope artist that have been in the game for a while:

School of Beauty, School of Culture. Kerry James Marshall, 2012

Carousel Form II. Sam Gilliam, 1969

Aesthetics of Funk. Xenobia Bailey, 2011

Four at Sea, Shirley Woodson Reid, 2006

You Became Playmate to the Patriarch and their Daughter. Carrie Mae Weems, 1995

Mario Moore