By Scott Boberg, Detroit Institute of the Arts
The Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) Inside|Out program, now in its third year, brings 80 reproductions of masterpieces from the DIA’s collection to the streets and parks of metro Detroit, pleasantly surprising residents of the participating communities. Where possible, the works are clustered within walking or biking distance of each other in a grand, open-air gallery. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is sponsoring the 2012 and 2013 Inside|Out installations. Scott Boberg is head of interpretive programs at the DIA. He assists in developing Inside|Out programs and events in each participating community.
I love to explore a community for the first time and meet the people who live there, discovering the social character of that particular place. As head of interpretive programs for the DIA, I love to find ways to reconfigure how art can fit into our everyday lives. How perfect, then, that I get to brainstorm ideas with each Inside|Out community and encourage them to develop events that amplify the surprise at the heart of this program.
One of the strongest community-based epiphanies I have had while working on Inside|Out took place last fall as I toured the town of Holly. When I was told that Holly is the self-proclaimed most haunted town in Michigan and then saw the book that includes one of their spirited stories, well, that was it, we had to organize a full moon tour! We had expected a nice turnout of perhaps a couple dozen, but more than 60 people showed up, flashlights in hand, and our undaunted teaching volunteer did two back-to-back tours that stormy evening in October. The success of that event led us to program similar tours in Farmington on a recent Friday the 13th (for an ever-growing group that by the end of the tour extended nearly the length of a city block) and Mount Clemens, where we are offering a series of full moon tours leading up to a Summer Solstice celebration. (The next full moon tour is on June 4 at 10 pm; yes, you read that correctly, ten in the evening).
Theme is just one way we approach programming for Inside|Out. In many cases, it’s simply based on the best mode of transportation for each city or township. Some of the communities have beautiful, concentrated downtowns, such as Wayne and Clarkston, which are perfect for a strolling tour. In Clarkston, for example, we recently celebrated Historic Preservation Month by combining an Inside|Out walking tour with a discussion of the historic buildings that had reproductions on, or were located near, them. Some communities, such as Livonia, St. Clair Shores, and Farmington Hills, have beautiful expansive parks, the distance between which lends itself to exploration by bus. Belleville and the Grosse Pointes have championed the fine art of dog—walk art appreciation, while Armada celebrated its reproduction of The Nightmare with a 5K zombie run/walk/shamble as part of last fall’s Armada-Geddon festival. Two-wheeled programs in Rochester, Romeo, Detroit, and the Grosse Pointes combined two things that people love but which they have never really considered together before: bicycles and looking at art. The response was uniformly enthusiastic.
So far we’ve guided folks by foot, by bus, by bicycle, by trolley, and by leash (who’s leading who on those dog walks, anyway…). But what about the mode of transportation that made Detroit famous? At the moment, I am working with one of the current communities on a soon-to-be-announced car tour. Mechanics of a Masterpiece, anyone? Details coming soon on the DIA Inside|Out Facebook page.
Now if we can only find a way to tour by airplane, skateboard, and kayak! Hmmm, I wonder…