Local Detroit artists are an exemplary reflection of how intertwined the community, culture, and history are. Not to mention, the current artists echo matters deeply rooted in Detroit’s past to help bring new perspectives for future change. Detroit art gets the people talking and working together. These artists have an eye for capturing what’s on their minds and melding it with current important topics, some of which include: racial and social justice, black brilliance, beauty, and history in Detroit, all through a modern lens.
Detroitisit rounded up a list of key artists in Detroit with a passion for contemporary art and true storytelling. You can also support Detroit artists HERE & find upcoming events.
This highly-regarded artist was one of 2022’s influential artists to watch by the Detroit News, which means you’ll want to keep an eye on his progress in 2023. Detroit native, Jonathan Harris, debuted his exhibition, “Pledge Allegiance” at the Nicole Tamer Art gallery in the David Whitney building in downtown Detroit back in July. This show consisted of photographs Harris captured of diverse Detroit residents. Social and racial justice narratives are a continuing thread throughout this collection as they have in Harris’ past collections, including his acclaimed painting “Critical Race Theory.” Click HERE to stay updated on Jonathan’s work.
Have you seen “The Girl With The D Earring” mural by Detroit artist, Sydney G. James? This 2020 modern take of the Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer is adorning Milwaukee Junction in Detroit, east of New Center. Other significantly stunning pieces by Sydney James: are “Our Issue” and “Black List” in Eastern Market, as well as the “Malice Green”. She co-organized Detroit’s first-ever, BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival in the city’s North End neighborhood in the summer of 2021. Don’t miss her next mural project from the “Girl Raised in Detroit”! Click HERE to find her on IG.
Featured on Local 4 News in October 2022, Marlo Broughton is a contemporary Detroit-based artist who also goes by “marlobro”. His work was featured around Motor City when he created movie posters for the 2017 film “Detroit”. His latest works include a striking mural that can be proudly seen downtown at the Monroe Street Midway. His solo exhibition called “LONG DAYS, NO DREAMS” in homage to Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech that debuted during Black History Month 2022. Marlo’s murals and other works are on his website HERE. You can purchase from his gallery HERE.
Moore Moore lives and works in Detroit Michigan, pulling inspiration into the studio from what people are going through. His subjects are contemporary Detroiters as well as historical figures in Detroit. Moore’s captivating realism and naturalism oil paintings merge the past and present. This unique strategy allows viewers of all types to better access history to keep it fresh in everyone’s minds! Although Mario doesn’t have any projects coming up, you can support his art journey on his site HERE and IG HERE.
Award-winning Detroit-based artist, Desiree Kelly’s vibrant, fun murals abound in Detroit. Drive around to Meijer’s relatively new Rivertown Market on East Jefferson and you’ll see what we mean. She painted a cool mural that depicts her young daughter. There’s also one in front of the Wright museum that she painted of Jennifer Hudson portraying The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Check out the West Bloomfield Henry Ford Health System that displays a series of painted portraits by Kelly. Click HERE to shop Desiree’s storytelling through her oil paintings. Look closely at each portrait, and you’ll find bits of artifacts & phrases that contribute to the historical narrative!
Kaitlin (Kate) Dodson is one to watch and visit in person! She paints custom pieces from her home studio in Hamtramck, Detroit. Dodson welcomes a diverse community of shoppers by offering an obtainable gallery of quality paintings for all who are interested in learning more about art. Find her creations on IG HERE. You’ll find cute pet portraits and amazing Hamtramck illustrations.
MATTHEW (“MATTIE”) ARMSTRONG
Artist and military veteran, Matthew Armstrong, 52, was always an artist at heart. However, his path to self-valuing his talent was riddled with all sorts of mental and physical pains as a result of his traumatic years in the Marine Corps.
Armstrong enrolled in art school at Wayne State University ― with a focus on painting ― and took a job at a bar in Detroit. He failed to graduate and ended up holding a position as the bar’s manager for 20 years, which was a toxic environment for his alcoholism. In 2020, he met art agent Nicole George, who put him on a path to becoming a professional artist. Mattie Armstrong grew up in Grosse Pointe and has lived and worked in Detroit for the past 20 years. Click HERE to view Mattie’s website.
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