DIA brings art to the city via Inside|Out program

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published April 19, 2017

CLAWSON — Art in the city abounds following the recent installation of 10 pieces throughout the community, compliments of the Detroit Institute of Arts Inside| Out program.

The installation took place April 12 at different key Clawson locations, including City Hall, the Blair Memorial Library, Evolve, Barb’s Pasties & Pizza, Phil Cavill’s Tire & Auto Service, Val’s Pet Supplies and in City Park for prominent display during the farmers market season.

“Clawson is just a natural fit for something like this because there is already such a vibrant downtown, and it’s a perfect location sort of in the middle of a lot of different things that are going on in the inner-rings suburbs, and they have been doing such a great job in the development with their downtown with all of the great restaurants and businesses,” said DIA Inside|Out Manager Jillian Reese. “So when I saw their application, it was a no-brainer.”

This year marks the eighth year for the DIA program, which brings high-quality reproductions of masterpieces from the museum’s collection to outdoor venues throughout metro Detroit. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation sponsors the program.

Mayor Penny Luebs was notified early this year that Clawson had been chosen to participate. Artwork will be on display through July.

Reese and her team thoughtfully chose all of the artwork for each location. Early in the year, she scouted locations and talked with business owners and the mayor to find the perfect fits.

“Then I take that information back to the museum and sit there with all 11 communities and start matching our 120 Inside|Out images to each location,” Reese said. “So we approach this project the same way we would approach an exhibit at the museum, making sure we do the best job that we can do and make sure that everyone is happy.”

Luebs said she is happy to have the opportunity to offer culture in Clawson. The mayor initially filled out the program application.

“I love the arts and am glad we were able to partner with the DIA,” she said.

Luebs said that in addition to the Inside|Out program, DIA Away — the traveling museum and interactive classroom — will be at the Clawson Farmers Market June 2. Other DIA activities will be offered at the market again in August.

Reese said that every year, the DIA puts out a call for participants, and this year she received about 30 applications. In total, the Inside|Out program accommodates between 18 and 21 participants during its spring and summer seasons.

“We really look at the participating communities as sort of a cohort, so we want a good mixture of diversity in the communities,” she said.

Reese explained that Inside|Out is a key component of the DIA’s community engagement efforts.

She said although it is not a purpose of the program, the museum also sees an uptick of attendance from Inside|Out communities.

Reese said the true purpose of the program is generally promoting art in public places.

“The hope is that maybe one day there would be murals or sculptures in Clawson,” she said. “So we hope it is a catalyst for other activities in the community related to arts.”

New this year, the DIA is collaborating with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to include 10 reproductions of objects from its permanent collection. This is the first time the DIA has incorporated reproductions of works from another institution in Inside|Out displays.

“Art has the powerful ability to unify, and Inside|Out allows us to bring people together outside of the museum walls,” DIA Director Salvador Salort-Pons said in a statement. “We see ourselves as more than a museum; we use art to encourage connections and improve understanding among our diverse communities.”

Over the past seven years, DIA officials said the museum has partnered with more than 100 communities and has engaged tens of thousands of residents with art in places where they live, work and play.

Anyone interested in learning more about the DIA program and seeing firsthand the pieces installed in Clawson is invited to gather for a free bike tour.

The free tour will be led by a DIA docent and will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 23, beginning at City Park. No RSVP is necessary; attendees just need to show up with their bikes.

Anyone with questions about the tour should call (248) 259-6208.