For the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority and West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority, City Hall ArtSpace Lofts was over a decade in the making. The project has helped rebuild the image of Dearborn, create a more cohesive community, and attract visitors.
The three-building campus was designed as a mixed-use arts center with more than 50 units of live/work spaces for artists and their families. Completed in 2016, the project is 100 percent occupied with creative entrepreneurs. The location features apartment spaces, art galleries, as well as an Arts and Tech Lab.
Metromode spoke with multi-media artist Monica Cavacece Feliciano, who has lived in City Hall ArtSpace Lofts since 2017, about how her home in this artists' community has impacted her art and her life. Cavece Feliciano has been a seamstress for 50 years. She creates multimedia art out of fabric and textiles.
Monica Cavacece Feliciano.Let’s talk about living in the building, how has it affected your art?
It’s the feeling in the building, its a very architecturally beautiful building when you walk in, so it kind of inspires you there. The high ceilings, huge windows… and being around other artists is constantly inspiring. It’s nonstop fun. If I get blocked, I can stop and go talk to another artist and then it just kind of opens things back up for me again. We are all very supportive of one another and we critique one another’s work all the time.
What kind of art do you work on?
I do several things. I am a multimedia artist. I do a lot with fabric and textiles. Hangings, costumes. I recently did a sculpture out of material. I also paint, I’m into acrylics right now. I have those starting to pile up. I also do some sculpture out of natural objects, branches, and recycled things.
I just finished a sculpture here with a group called Dearborn Sculpture Fest, it’s called “Nature’s Door,” and we went to a junkyard that gave each group of artists up (who else) to 500 pounds of scrap metal, and we had to take it out of there and make something out of it.
My art is very diverse and I can go from one thing to another. Being here and living in my studio, I can change my mind. I can get up one morning and work on a painting and put it aside for a moment and then go back to it. I can leave everything out and not have to pack it all away every night and pull it back out the next morning.
What inspired you to be an artist?
I started sewing when I was 11 years old. I just loved the colors and the feel of the fabric. I could sew for myself and for my mother, and then I realized that I could do multiple things. I could make costumes, and I ended up making costumes for all my grandchildren, and then for my son who is an actor.
Then I went through a divorce, and I started going to college at Macomb Community College and just taking all the art classes I could take. My mentor was David Barr, a sculptor from the Detroit area, he influenced me and showed me different aspects of art, and how to build and have a real studio, and that’s what this is. It’s part of my everyday life. It’s actually the best part of my life right now.
How did you find out about City Hall ArtSpace?
I found out through a friend of mine who said she saw it on Facebook, and I thought, ‘Whoa… that’s exactly what I’m looking for…’ It’s in a beautiful building, it’s right next to a park, it’s a community of other artists.
We trade… like we barter. I’m fixing some things and creating some things for a friend who is traveling to Bermuda, and she’s gonna do some facials for me and eyebrow sculpting. It’s kind of fun in that way too. We are still evolving here as a community. It’s sometimes difficult, it’s always interesting, and there’s never a dull moment.