Blog: George N'Namdi

Metro Detroit is one of the largest contemporary art markets in the country, according to George N'Namdi, founder of the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, a visual and performing arts venue housing one of the world's finest collections of African American art. This week George writes about the guest curators and artists who are turning Detroit's Sugar Hill arts district into a showpiece of the modern art circuit.

Post 1: Sugar Hill Art District gets contemporary spice

The Sugar Hill Art District is primed to be a driving force in the rejuvenation of the city of Detroit, particularly the midtown cultural district. The area, recently designated as historic, is located between Forest Ave on the north, Canfield on the South, Woodward on the west and John R on the east.  Currently it is anchored by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art. With all of the development and rebirth, it is my belief that it will also soon be home to many artists. The opportunities for artists here in Detroit are tremendous with the region being the largest collector of contemporary art.
The district's history plays into its appeal as it was once home to a vibrant cultural and entertainment community during the '40s thru the early '60s. There were hotels, the Carver and the Randora along with numerous night clubs, Flame Bar and Sunny Wilson's, to name a few.  The district changed during the 1960s and the cultural area began to lose its luster.
Today, the district is working to restore its shine. In the coming months The Movement Project, located within the N'Namdi complex, will be home to Yvette Cobb's Yoga and Dance Center, giving the community another creative outlet. Seva Restaurant of Ann Arbor will bring its award- winning restaurant and wine bar to The N'Namdi Center and will offer patio seating along the sculpture garden and walkway that encompass an outdoor performance space and leads to many businesses and institutions and residences throughout the district.
With spaces like the N'Namdi Center giving artists a place to exhibit new works and meet with each other for educational programming along with the nearby 71 Garfield building, a green, loft style apartment building offering artists a place to live along with spaces to work, the area has much to offer the art community. Detroit has a history of being innovative, and as it is going through its current reinvention, it creates the type of environment in which artists thrive. The ability to showcase their work coupled with the world-class entertainment and dining, educational institutions and programming, and affordable housing should make artists feel welcome here. As art and cultural experiences in the city increase, it will help to draw professionals from all industries to the region.
Other conveniences like an already financed 225-car parking deck, and the planned Sugar Hill building, to be located at Garfield and John R, will be a five-story building offering retail space on the ground floor and four floors of residences, and other area institutions such as the Detroit Artist Market, The Whitney, and the First Congregational Church's Underground Railroad will also help Sugar Hill and Midtown in attracting a vibrant artistic community to the area.