Artinfo today has a story about Kunsthalle Detroit, the motor city’s latest art venture, billed as the “first museum of light-based arts in the country.” The museum was started by New York-based art consultant Tate Osten, who left her job in 2009 to found Kunsthalle Detroit based on a television news report about the “poverty-stricken Midwest city.” After seeing Detroit firsthand (she was reminded of old Berlin), Ms. Osten purchased an old abandoned bank with $60,000 of her own money. The first exhibit, “Time and Place,” which opened June 10, includes artists Jesper Just, William Kentridge, Hans Op de Beeck and Bill Viola (they all participated for free, according to the piece).
The Observer, who happens to be a Detroit transplant, is happy to see the museum being taken seriously, but the article sounds a bit like someone whose experience with Detroit is limited to New York Times headlines. “America’s Most Blighted City!” “Crime-riddled neighborhoods!” “A museum in one of the most dangerous parts of a lawless city!” People coming from “as far as Ann Arbor” for the opening! Sorry, but that’s like saying people came from as far as Park Slope to an opening in Chelsea. It’s Detroit, Artinfo, not the apocalypse. People still live there. Despite those kernels of judgment, it’s nice to see Detroit being talked about for something other than population decline.