It Isn’t What You Think…….No, Really!

Photo by Kenneth Justice - All Rights Reserved (2013)

Freelance Graphitti Artist – Photo by Kenneth Justice – All Rights Reserved (2013)




I live a couple miles from downtown Detroit…A city that has been given quite a black eye by the national media.
Many of the criticisms of Detroit have been deserved, yet what the national media ignores is the thriving art scene in Metropolitan Detroit – Photo by Kenneth Justice – All Rights Reserved 2013


This is a major element of the culture here that is largely ignored.
I took these photo’s at the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, a scattering of houses that local artists have recreated – Photo by Kenneth Justice – All Rights Reserved (2013)


So, where documentaries like Detropia leave with a sinking feeling about Detroit….when you consider the thriving art scene in the area, you’re given a good dose of encouragement…..


To be fair….the local media pretty much ignores the art scene just like that national pundits. The reason being; the average person in the U.S. just doesn’t give a flying s*** about art. That’s the honest to goodness truth. Art is irrelevant. Statistically, the average person has never been in an art museum – Photo by Kenneth Justice – All Rights Reserved (2013) 


So while there are definitely budgetary and crime elements that still need to be dealt with in Detroit. Living in Detroit is hardly a sad experience, quite the opposite. It isn’t what you think…..No, Really….Detroit has some of the coolest cultural elements of any major city. – Photo by Kenneth Justice – All Rights Reserved (2013)


What do you think about art? Have you even ever thought about it before? Most people don’t….yet art is all around us. – Photo by Kenneth Justice – All Rights Reserved (2013)

 “It isn’t what you think…..No, Really….Detroit has some of the coolest cultural elements of any major city”


Art is all around us; in the movies, billboards, advertisements, magazines, but most of us take it for granted. Art is an elements of our culture that we don’t really think about very much. – Photo by Kenneth Justice – All Rights Reserved (2013)


However, art is a spice of life. Without it we are left with blandness. When you go on vacation do you go to the suburbs or the city? Of course, we as humans love to travel to oceans and mountains as well. But if we are going somewhere that was built by humanity…we are going to beautiful cities, artistic creations of imaginative minds. – Photo by Kenneth Justice – All Rights Reserved (2013)


Don’t get me wrong……I’m definitely not postulating the idea that Detroit has re-emerged. No….the city has a long way to go. BUT……to ignore the artistic elements that the Metro Detroit area oozes with would be a pretty big misstep. – Photo by Kenneth Justice – All Rights Reserved (2013)


Art makes us think. Mark Rothko taught that Art is a way in which the artist expresses his view of the world – Photo by Kenneth Justice – All Rights Reserved (2013)


When we build suburban areas where every single house looks the same….what is that saying about our view of the world? – Photo by Kenneth Justice – All Rights Reserved (2013)


Billy Joe Armstrong said the highlight of his young life was hanging out at the 7-11 because in the suburbs, there just isn’t anywhere to go……- Photo by Kenneth Justice – All Rights Reserved (2013)

Adding artistic expression to our cities brightens peoples lives, it gives a greater dimension to society, and it challenges us to think bigger and beyond our normal, limited viewpoint.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Photography

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30 replies

  1. My friend BASK does shows up there pretty frequently.

  2. BASK? Is he an artist or musician?

  3. Wow! I had no idea. The American media has never shown the artistic side of Detroit.

    • When you consider that Motown played a massive force in music back in the day, and in recent years the most popular rap/hip hop artist is Detroit’s own Eminem, and also my friends like to constantly remind me that Techno originated out of Belleville, Michigan , so musically speaking; Detroit has always had strong artistic elements…..its just; because the economy did so poorly in the 2000’s, all that the local and national media has focused on is jobs and housing….

      it also doesn’t help that the media doesn’t really care much about art a whole lot either.

  4. I grew up in Detroit in the late 60’s. I remember there was this ‘creative intensity’ always just below the surface and every so often broke through. It didn’t matter what race or creed — it was everywhere.

    • Yea….it is still there among the younger crowd…the only problem is the hipster crowd seems to becoming more predominate and they are very exclusionary which doesn’t make for good art.

  5. Thanks for liking my post!

    I always ignorantly thought of Detroit as the ghost town that used to have GM. But these pictures are really something different. Definitely not what I thought.


  6. Wow, my apologies. That is what I meant to say. Thanks for the clarification 🙂

  7. I love this post. It’s so important to highlight the positive stuff, the creative stuff. You’ve already started to change my opinion of the city.

  8. Great pictures and amazing artwork, I am glad artist envision their city as more than what is conceive in the media and as an opportunity to create.

  9. Baltimore is like that too. It seems pretty awful as portrayed by the media, and trust me, it can be, but it also has a thriving art scene. The city is filles with “arts districts” all with their own unique artists, galleries, and public works.

  10. Glad you posted this. I have not had a chance to make it up Detroit way, but it is actually a city I want to visit for just these reasons.

  11. Very creative decorations.
    I live in a subdivision with a “Homeowner’s Association” (HOA).
    Creativity has to be approved, so it’s rather stifled.

  12. What a beautiful tribute to a “step-childed” city.

  13. I’ve been hearing about the strong Outsider Art scene in Detroit for years now. Thanks for the great photos!

  14. Wow, what an eye opener. All I’ve ever heard is the Mainstream media mantra about jobs/car jobs… crime. That’s what’s so awesome about the internet and blogging. We’re going to learn more from each other than all the “major” newsources could ever teach us- or pull the wool over our eyes, is more like it. I really like the dot house, I’d totally live in a dot house.

  15. First, thank you so much for reading our stuff over at the everyday poetry project. Second, thank you for plumbing the depths of art and culture so often left un-plumbed by the shit-storm that is American (/”western”/European) media. Your efforts will be appreciated by all who appreciate plain faced truth in the face of lies.

  16. I’m an art teacher in the UK and these photos look really inspiring – I’d like to visit this area, it looks like a thriving scene.

  17. This is amazing-what a testimony to the creative spirit-This must be fantastic to see in person. Thank you for writing about it-

  18. Great post. Poetry and art are our birthright as humans. The urge to create runs deep in all of us and rewards us with endorphins when we tap into it and somehow express ourselves. These pictures make the point. Thanks!

  19. This is brilliant! both the photography, and the social context in which you embed your photos. So glad to see this

  20. I absolutely LOVE these photographs. They are wonderful!

  21. I’ve never been to Detroit and don’t know much about it; I will certainly find out, the art is truly original, from the heart and inspirational!

  22. Often the changes in a city are reflected in its graffiti. Your beautiful photos are a testament to this.

  23. wonderful! thanks for posting

  24. house + vinyl records = “house music”

  25. I am nominating you for the Sunshine and Versatile Blogger Awards. I really like your blog and I wanted to share my experiences with your blog with everyone else on WP. It’s a small token of my appreciation for your contributions. Believe it or not you inspire me! You can find the awards on this link:
    One Love,
    Fahdah Away (Humble Mouths)


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