Tag Archives: street art

African-inspired art lights up Detroit

Driving eastbound on I-96 through Detroit, you might see it out of the corner of your eye — a brief burst of light and color as you pass West Grand Boulevard. That fleeting flash of brilliance is Detroit’s African Bead Museum, a remarkable but unheralded collection of outdoor art on the city’s west side.

Started ten years ago by the artist Dabl, the open-air exhibit celebrates African language and culture through an exuberant display of broken mirrors, beads, colorful paint, and found objects. The collection consists of two brightly adorned buildings, a found art exhibit (“Iron Teaching Rocks How to Rust”), a community garden, a sidewalk mural featuring the scripts of African languages, and a small shop, Dabl’s Perette’s, which is filled to the brim with gorgeous African beads and jewelry.

It’s truly a sight to behold, and further evidence that Detroit deserves to be a national arts destination. You can check it our for yourself at 6559 Grand River Avenue, Detroit, MI 48208. It’s near the junction of W. Grand Boulevard, Grand River Avenue, and I-96, right across from Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church and Northern High School. Be sure to stop into the store, too, to meet the artist and peruse his fabulous collection of African beads.


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Street art in the New Center

Detroit’s not often pegged as a beautiful city, but art is pervasive here, if you just look. Hand-painted signs, community murals, and street art seem to adorn every building or the ruins that remain. As I walked through the quiet streets of the New Center today, along Second and Cass between I-94 and Grand Boulevard, I noticed some stunning pieces amid the grit.

First, I came upon the murals adorning the Detroit Children’s Museum:

Then I wondered alongside the train tracks. Much like the Dequindre Cut, the walls between the two sets of tracks function as an ever-changing gallery for graffiti and street art, visible only to the passengers of the Amtrak trains that pass by every few hours.

When a feral dog began to bark in the distance, I turned back toward Woodward. There I found a colorful youth mural, tagged over in parts with graffiti, that had been organized by the New Center Council. And in the distance stood the newest addition to Detroit’s skyline looking north: a bright blue, 9-story mural splashed across the side of a building on Grand Boulevard.