Murals in the Market – what a beautiful scene!

In collaboration with the Eastern Market Corporation and Knight Foundation, 1xRUN and Inner State Gallery curated and delivered a 9-day mural festival that thrilled locals and visitors to Detroit. There were series of events that activated the whole footprint of the Market which organizers believed will leave an everlasting impression on the Eastern Market.

Detroit’s 2016 mural festival was huge; it was a triumphant return to the city for the second year of its only international mural festival and more than 50 local and international artists were invited to add new arts throughout the city. You can check out the full list of artists on their website.


Over the last 5 years, 1xRUN and Inner State Gallery have produced more than 75 murals in the Eastern Market, with over 100 murals throughout Detroit city. On 2016 alone, 50 new murals were added to the city’s gallery.

Artists from as far as Paris, Singapore and Australia crowned the festival with breathtaking murals. New York’s Cey Adams, a renowned graffiti artist came along to exhibit his work alongside notables such as 1010 from Germany and Britain’s Mr. Jago.

Visitors had the chance to get up-close with the artists and culturally significant photographers during discussion panels. Cey Adams said he acknowledged the mass population that dropped by, inspired by what he does, that a city like Detroit is putting on a festival like Murals in the Market.


Mexican Victor Quinonez, famous as Marka27 said he really enjoyed the city and the culture. Some of his works are on at hot spots such as Belmont Tunnels, L.A, and Hall of Fame in Spanish Harlem, N.Y and Five Points in Queens, New York.

For the native artist Pat Perry, who lives about half a mile from his mural in Eastern Market, the festival was an opportunity to use his artistic talent to inspire the enthusiasm of his neighbors. He thinks when people walk by the mural every day, they feel more value than if the wall is just an abandoned building.

What’s the impact?

With the production of these murals, every location has had a significant visual impact on the surrounding neighborhood. Not only that, there’s an increase in traffic to the areas, economic boom as well as increased security.


Even more interesting, all events were free and open to the public as both the local and international artists looked to extend their artistry markets. And it was more than just artwork; from multiple art exhibitions, installations, children’s workshops, community events and live music, it was a great way to portray the spirit of Detroit. The festival brought more energy to Eastern Market and encouraged people to connect with each other and their city as well.

Visitors to Eastern Market are now treated to a batch of bright murals on every corner. And that was the goal of the organizers – to encourage people who have never visited the century-old Eastern Market and seen the renovated sheds in the area. It’s more exuberant today than it has ever been thanks to the public art that has expanded the footprint and the district at large.


Artist Sues Detroit for Mural Protection

Detroit has long been known as a city with some fight in it. Whether it’s the blue collar reputation it received in its automotive heyday, the prominent music scenes that emerged from it over the decades, or the people who refuse to leave even now, when the city’s bankruptcy has made it more decay than growth. But Detriot and its proud residents continue to soldier on every day, including a very famous visual artist, Katherine Craig.

Back in 2009, before much of the problems that have made Detroit headline news around the world, Katherine Craig painted one of the city’s most defining murals: a piece that many call “bleeding Rainbow” but is officially titled The Illuminated Mural. The piece has become synonymous with Detroit itself, appearing on postcards and other memorabilia, and has been featured in many articles and pieces about Detroit’s graffiti scene. The Illuminated Mural itself takes up a single wall of a nine-storey building and looks like a melting series of colours. The Detroit Free Press even called it “maybe Detroit’s most drop-dead gorgeous mural” in a recent article.

The owner’s of the mural’s building, however, are looking to tear down the piece in a redevelopment project, effectively destroying the mural in an attempt to build some condo buildings. It’s a move that much of the city opposes, but almost no one more so than Craig herself. She believes the piece, besides the fact it’s the cornerstone of her career, deserves a place in history, and to stay alive no matter what the building’s owners decide to do. She believes this so much, in fact, that she’s suing said owners.

Craig is invoking an often forgotten piece of legislation called “The Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA)”. The act protects artworks of “recognized stature,” such as murals and street art,from destruction. This includes destruction that’s either “intentional or grossly negligent.”

So far, the move has stalled any action by the developer to the building, and the high profile nature of the case could make them reconsider their plans, but Craig’s lawsuit stands for something much greater than just her own mural, even though the gorgeous piece deserves to be around for more than a mere seven years. What Craig’s case is arguing is for the preservation of history, of the tangible value of street art. Since so many murals are made and consumed outside of the traditional capitalist structures, it becomes something with an undetermined value. Compared to paintings in a gallery with price tags on the corners, a mural has no price, just intrinsic value, and Craig’s case is arguing such a value is not only real, but worth preserving. Whatever the final decision, Craig’s brave actions are another example of street art’s value.

Shepard Fairey: Wanted by Detroit Police

Legendary graffiti artist Shepard Fairey is currently wanted by Detroit police for work he recently did in the beleaguered city’s downtown core. Fairey, probably most famous for his OBEY and Andre the Giant graffiti in the eighties and of course the iconic HOPE poster from President Obama’s 2008 campaign, was in town to paint the largest legal mural he had ever undertaken. Apparently the Detroit Police Department, famously underworked in the currently booming metropolis of financially stable Detroit, is coming after Fairey for his “extra-curricular” activity.

Detroit police are currently investigating Fairey’s alleged crimes, including two counts of malicious destruction of property, for graffiti that has appeared in downtown Detroit since Fairey arrived in the city. The crimes aren’t too severe, but can lead to jail time and hefty fines, so Fairey is going to have to lawyer up to defend the charges.

Of course, for an artist as famous as Fairey, he could make a couple of unique arguments about his various alleged graffiti activity around town, including the fact a bonafide Fairey original on any piece of property is actually a way to increase a property’s value, not devalue it, as the law requires, and that could lead to some problems on the Detroit police’s side of the case. But either way, Fairey’s original mural is now proudly being displayed in downtown Detroit, and that has many different people taking note, and either complaining or complimenting the artist’s contribution to the city skyline.

Fairey was in Detroit doing the largest legal mural he has ever undertaken in an effort to add some colour to Detroit’s beleaguered downtown core. The city, most famous recently for having to file for bankruptcy, has looked to private companies for ways to rebuild and attract new people to the area. Of course, the various projects, including Fairey’s own mural, has been met with a chorus of both approval and disdain. For Fairey’s work, some praise the initiative as a way of using art to attract young people, while others argue it’s a way to cover up the creeping gentrification of some neighbourhoods. Fairey himself is frustrated by the divisive opinions, telling Animal via email, “I’m either accused of being a vandal or a gentrifier depending on who you ask. Realty has more nuance. I think art is a good thing in public spaces…for the most part.”

Many legal experts have weighed in on Fairey’s current prediciment and, besides having to assess the devaluing of properties to make the case, the Detroit police will also need to prove it was Fairey, and not someone else, who did indeed do the graffiti they’re mentioning. And in a city with a myriad of closures and resource scarcity, and many other things they could be focusing on, retroactively proving a specific person did certain graffiti will be almost impossible. Fairey may never even have to take the stand.