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February 5, 2014

Inside|Out DIA exhibit coming to Wolcott Mill

By Sarah Wojcik
C & G Staff Writer

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Inside|Out DIA  exhibit coming to Wolcott Mill
From left, Shelby Township resident Erika Kenyon, 6-year-old Caseville resident Madison Smils and Starr Smils walk through the DIA’s Inside|Out exhibit at Heritage Garden in Shelby Township on July 5, 2013. Artwork will be coming to Wolcott Mill Metropark this spring.

RAY TOWNSHIP — For the first time, the Detroit Institute of Art’s touring art exhibit will be featured in a historic nature park setting.

On Jan. 22, the DIA announced that Wolcott Mill Metropark would be among 10 venues to participate in its spring 2014 Inside|Out tour, which brings high-quality, weatherproof replicas of masterpieces found within the museum to outdoor locations in the metro Detroit area.

Other communities on the spring tour include Auburn Hills, Center Line, Detroit, Imlay City, Lapeer, Pontiac, Romulus and Southfield. Now in its fifth year, the program has installed more than 80 rotating replicas in more than 700 individual locations in 98 communities.

“We’re really excited to have them on site,” said Wolcott Mill Operations Manager Gary Hopp, adding that the park has been in communication with the DIA for the last year or two. “Hopefully, people will experience what we have and come back for additional programs.”

Between April and July, up to five large replica masterpieces will be placed at the Wolcott Mill Metropark Farm Center, and up to five will be placed at the Historic Center. Hopp added that DIA volunteers will educate park staff about the works of art, and park staff will incorporate the artwork on walking tours at the two facilities.

“I think it will be a great addition. It’s that combination of outdoor facility in a rural community, and you’re stumbling on a replica of a masterpiece you only see in a museum,” Hopp said.

The exact placements are still being determined and, once finalized, will be featured on an interactive map on the DIA’s website, www.dia.org.

Kathryn Dimond, DIA community relations director, said the project stemmed from an idea DIA officials picked up at the National Gallery in London and then brought to Detroit in 2010 to celebrate the museum’s 125th anniversary.

“At first, we only had 40 works distributed, one per community, throughout 40 communities in southeast Michigan,” she said. The next year, based on the popularity of the program, the museum decided to cluster works into a walkable outdoor gallery setting.

Dimond said the goal of the Knight Foundation, which sponsored the project, is to provide spontaneous acts of culture; the goal of the museum is to create experiences in which people find personal meaning in art; and the Inside|Out project accomplishes both.

In order to decide which replicas to place in each community, Dimond said a representative from the DIA meets with city officials to learn about the community.

“We learn what is important to them, what they are known for, what goes on in that particular location or setting, any highlight, and try to make some sort of selection that fits, or what aesthetically looks good,” she said.

When it came to Wolcott Mill, Dimond said the DIA had been interested in incorporating the Inside|Out Program in the Metropark system. However, most parks in the system charge an admission fee, and the project is supposed to be free to the public.

“Not only does Wolcott Mill not have an entrance fee, it’s truly unique,” she said. “It’s not necessarily a neighborhood, but it’s a place where kids go on fieldtrips and families go for different event.”

She said when brainstorming which pieces to place at Wolcott Mill, her team considered a theme surrounding a historic farm, nature and animals. While they submitted a list of works of art to Wolcott Mill, Dimond said it has not yet been finalized.

Nearby Shelby Township was the destination for eight DIA replicas from July-September 2013 at the Heritage Garden on the municipal grounds, the community center and Mae Stecker Park, said Parks, Recreation and Maintenance Director Joe Youngblood.

“We really enjoyed the DIA Inside|Out Project. It brought a lot of visitors to the township grounds,” Youngblood said. “We were also really excited to have it here during the art fair in August. It was the perfect fit.”

He said that the township had to submit an application to be considered, and because so many communities liked the idea, they were on a waiting list for a couple of years.

“It just goes to show you the kind of demand for the project to come to each community,” Youngblood said.

For more information about the Inside|Out program at Wolcott Mill or Huron-Clinton Metroparks, call (810) 494-6012.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at swojcik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1029.