Lost Cultural Venues of Detroit: Social Spaces and Playgrounds.
This exhibition pays tribute to places in the city of Detroit. These include bars, ballrooms, art galleries, coffee houses, nightclubs, dives and spaces for after-hours jam sessions. They were here but now they’re gone. The same structures hold other venues or sit empty. Many have been demolished.
I’m attempting to find evidence of areas where people gathered to listen to music, lectures or poetry. Also included are venues where the music was closely tied to dancing. Then too, there are spots where we got together to watch films outside of the usual circles of “commercial cinema.”
Through books, original material and copies of original material we attempt to travel back in time. We list and remember the places we’ve lost.
I also include outdoor festivals and block parties, especially those which were held annually.
Some of these are scenes that I frequented and knew well. Others were before my time.
Then there are the buildings destroyed by freeway expansion in the early 1960’s. The Black Bottom/ Paradise Valley/ Hastings Street neighborhood was a vital part of Detroit’s cultural history. I’ll look for material connected with this.
Music is always an important part of any scene. Detroit has had a rich history in jazz, blues, soul, folk, rock, punk, classical, electronica and more. I’ll try to touch upon and remember as much of this as possible.
This collection is primarily concerned with Detroit. However, there will be some notice taken of the suburbs. Also, while the focus is on lost venues, some mention will be made of longstanding cultural spaces. There are places which have enriched our cultural life for many years. Often though, for better or worse, they’re no longer what they once were. They’re still good though.
I’ve been collecting materials since the early 1970’s. I’ve also found or borrowed other materials from the 1920’s through the 1960’s. I’ve found books and ephemera here in this library’s collection.
Thanks a lot to this exhibits supporters, including Lutz Bacher and Dave Toorongian. A collection is more valuable when it sees the light of day. If you have any especially interesting material yourself, let me know what you have. Perhaps I could borrow it or scan or photocopy it.
The exhibit will change over the next three months. I’ll take things out and add other things. I’ll open books to different pages. It will get denser and more complex. Get by if you can.
At the Library of the University of Detroit Mercy, McNichols Campus.
June 15 through September 10, Summer 2016
It’s open Monday through Friday. The Summer hours are Monday through Thursday 9AM to 6PM. Fridays, the library is open from 9AM to 5PM. It’s closed weekends until September.
I’ll usually be there myself, but not always. Eventually, I’ll do a paper handout.
If you come see this show, note that it’s in two parts. There are a series of showcases when you first walk into the library. Then there are two more showcases far off to the side.
The location, directions and other information:
Take One is the physical exhibit itself: Lost Cultural Venues of Detroit: Social Spaces and Playgrounds.
Take Two will be an essay or two that I’ll write on the history of Detroit’s past cultural venues. I’ll post it here or on my Adventures and Resources blog. Then I’ll have paper copies to hand out too. I’ll also do a post just listing as many names as I can, breaking them down by categories.
Take Three is a facebook page. This is now active. It will continue, even after the exhibit is dismantled. Other people can put images or links on there too, so long as it relates directly to the subject at hand. If you’re interested in it, here’s link to it. It includes further information, including images, web links and related material:
Thanks to Dave Toorongian and Lutz Bacher for loaning items for this exhibit.
Thank you to library at the University of Detroit Mercy for continuing support of this and other exhibitions.