The newest addition to metro Detroit's art scene is also one of the most anticipated. The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) delivers what it promises: contemporary art. Rather than exhibiting a permanent collection, the MOCAD acts as revolving showcase for both local and international artists. Even the museum's exterior has been put to artful use with a mural by artist Barry McGee and a neon piece by Martin Creed.
As a non-collecting institution the MOCAD is able to respond to the cultural content of the time, fueling dialogue, collaboration, and public engagement. Located on Woodward and Garfield between the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Institute of Arts, the museum is an innovative addition to Detroit's Cultural Center, acting as a hub for the exploration of emerging ideas in the contemporary arts.
The museum's cavernous 22,000-square-foot space received a simple renovation from its former life as an auto dealership, to provide flexible space for the exhibition of contemporary art. The recently opened bookstore features merchandise not available in the metropolitan area, including specialized art and culture magazines and limited-edition artists t-shirts. The museum's cafe opened in Fall 2007, with an emphasis on organic food, unique sandwiches, desserts and coffees. An ambitious series of public programs includes lectures, musical performances, films, poetry, and literary readings.
The museum hosts three to four major exhibitions each year. In Spring 2008, an extraordinary exhibition of portraits by Russian-born American painter Alexander Melamid have been showcased. An outspoken artist, Melamid once had his work dismantled and bulldozed by the Soviet government. "Holy Hip-Hop! New Paintings by Alex Melamid" features life-size portraits of 12 icons of hip-hop culture including 50 Cent, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, and Russell Simmons. The 12, dressed in their everyday clothes, are rendered with Old Master style and quality, providing a provocative visual context and an association with masterpieces of the past.
The MOCAD also promises exciting events in connection to their exhibitions. For instance, during the run of "Holy Hip-Hop!", the museum is hosting a collection of more than 1,500 hip-hop artifacts and memorabilia. Special workshops on Graffitti, Break-dance, MC demo/instruction, and a DJ performance delve into this cultural phenomenon. Workshops on Portraiture, Self-Fashioning + Recycle Fashion will also be offered.
Through Summer 2008, "Considering Detroit" is the first exhibition in a series that MOCAD is planning to explore contemporary art of the Detroit area. With a goal of documenting the recent history of the art of this region, the participating artists were selected on the merits of their work and for their various connections to the place. For the 2008 exhibition the MOCAD has chosen to highlight Ellen Cantor, Maurice Greenia, Jim Guftason, Allie McGhee, Heather McGill, Gordon Newton, and the artist collective, TIME STEREO.
The museum also hosts its annual benefit party in the spring. Held for the first time in the museum, the 3rd Annual Benefit Party, "Be In Art" promises to be both elegant and provocative. An artists-designed entrance entices attendees for what lies ahead. The party space will be overloaded with good, affordable art available through silent auction. Guests see how a group of important Detroit area artists make their art in the midst of an art exhibition in the process of installation. Food and live entertainment will set the party mood.
Museum tours are offered Wednesday and Sunday at 1 p.m., and Saturday at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Museum hours are Wednesday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. MOCAD is free and open to the public. MOCAD is located five minutes from downtown Detroit and 20 minutes from the Detroit Metro Airport.
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