Berkley to participate in DIA’s Inside|Out program

Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge also slated for summer session

By: Jeremy Selweski | Woodward Talk | Published April 16, 2013

 This is the fourth year for the Inside|Out program, which puts high-quality reproductions of the DIA’s collection outdoors.

This is the fourth year for the Inside|Out program, which puts high-quality reproductions of the DIA’s collection outdoors.

File photo provided by the Detroit Institute of Arts

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BERKLEY — This summer, Berkley will help the Detroit Institute of Arts achieve its goal of bringing the museum to the masses.

Now in its fourth year, the DIA’s Inside|Out program takes nearly 80 high-quality reproductions of artistic masterpieces from “inside” the DIA’s collection and transports them “out” to the streets, parks, business districts and other public places in metro Detroit. And wherever possible, the pieces are clustered within walking or biking distance of each other to form an open-air gallery that can be viewed for free at any time of day.

According to Joan Walton, project manager for Inside|Out, “The program has gotten so popular that we’ve developed a waiting list for all the communities who are requesting to be part of it. There are very few communities in the tri-county area that we haven’t visited yet, and we are even revisiting some of them now. After they’ve been selected, the first words out of a lot of people’s mouths are, ‘How can we apply for this again next year?’”

The 2012-2013 Inside|Out program is funded by a $250,000 sponsorship from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The spring session, which began on April 1 and runs through June 23, includes pieces of art in 13 southeast Michigan communities: Ann Arbor, Dearborn Heights, Fraser, Hazel Park, New Baltimore, Novi, Pontiac, Redford Township, Rochester Hills, southwest Detroit, Utica, Walled Lake and Westland. While details of the summer session have not yet been revealed, it will run from July through September and feature three of the four Woodward Talk cities: Berkley, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge.

The Berkley City Council discussed the program April 1 and unanimously approved the placement of DIA works of art outside the city library, Public Safety Department and Public Works Department this summer. According to City Manager Jane Bais-DiSessa, the city’s participation in Inside|Out was made possible because of her assistant, Darchelle Strickland Love, who applied on Berkley’s behalf.

“I’m very excited about this program,” Bais-DiSessa told the council. “Darchelle and I have talked a lot about the effect that art has on communities … and how important it is that art is part of our lives and part of our everyday being, and what it does to improve a community.”

And as Love stated, it also helps that the DIA’s collection is second to none. “Growing up in Detroit, if you wanted to look at the really fine pieces of art, you had to go to the DIA,” she said. “And as a former city of Detroit employee, I know that their art collection is fabulous — it is absolutely fabulous. … What’s really cool about this (program) is that, when you think about all the masterpieces that are behind walls that people have to go to a building to see, what the DIA has done is they’ve selected specific works of art and weatherized them and winter-proofed them … so they can set them outside for people to view. These pieces are of the grade that will endure rain, snow, sleet and hail.”

According to Walton, Inside|Out was inspired by public art displays that DIA Director Graham Beal saw while visiting London. He was so taken with the idea that he decided to bring it home to metro Detroit. With its launch in 2010, Inside|Out became the first program of its kind in North America, Walton said, and since that time, it has been imitated by museums in Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, Kansas and more.

The most difficult part was accurately duplicating these priceless works of art.

“It took a little while for us to get it right and come up with a process that could copy these images to our high standards,” Walton explained. “These pieces don’t just look like big posters — they capture all the texture of the paint, too.”

Bais-DiSessa agreed.

“These pieces are exact replicas and they are quite beautiful, so I encourage everyone … to please come out and see them,” she said. “It’s as if you’re going to the museum to look at these pieces of art.”

Councilwoman Lisa Platt Auensen recommended that the city get the Berkley Environmental Advisory Committee involved with Inside|Out by hosting bicycle tours of the Berkley locations. Because of the close proximity, she also suggested that the BEAC team up with Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge to organize tours that could take people to see the different art installations in all three communities.

Other members of council were on board with the idea, as well. “I don’t think we want people to just accidentally stumble upon these pieces of art,” said Mayor Phil O’Dwyer. “We need to have them publicized … somewhere that people have access to the information so that they can maybe decide on a Sunday afternoon to take a ride on their bike and just see them all and know where they all are.”

Love pointed out that something like this is already in the works. “One of the most important things for the people at the DIA,” she said, “is that the city, itself, promotes these works of art and encourages people to go and look at them, and actually creates events so that people can go and look at them. It’s one thing to hang a painting on the wall of your house where nobody sees it, but these pieces are actually going to be on the street.”

Walton noted that Inside|Out also serves as a reminder of the many treasures that the DIA contains behind its doors. The program has helped increase attendance at the DIA in recent years, as many art aficionados have journeyed through the museum to locate their city’s Inside|Out works of art and discover some new inspirations along the way.

“These replicas are terrific, but nothing quite compares to the originals, so of course we still encourage people to visit the museum,” Walton said. “But the real goal here is to engage people in their home community with these beautiful works of art. Even if they don’t come out and visit the museum, then at least we’ve made that initial connection.”

Councilman Steve Baker put it more succinctly: “This is great,” he said. “You just gotta have art!”

For more information about the DIA’s Inside|Out program, call (313) 833-7900 or visit www.dia.org and click on “Exhibitions & Events,” then click on “Inside|Out.”

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