Detroit Art Scene Shines Every 3rd Thursday

By Kate Opalewski

DETROIT - When a handful of Detroit gallery owners and Art Detroit Now came together to brainstorm, a monthly art event known as 3rd Thursday was the result.

The goal is to showcase Detroit's expanding art scene and connect the diverse art community and businesses among the city neighborhoods, according to Art Detroit Now, an organization formed in 2006 by 11 leading members in Detroit's contemporary arts community.

"We want to get people out to these galleries, and really take down the barriers between the Detroit neighborhoods and art venues to come out and experience the richness of our art scene and engage in what is happening here, on a regular basis in an assessable way," said Milana Duthie, managing director of Art Detroit Now. "It really gives galleries a way to experiment with things like one-night shows, and it gives people the opportunity to visit many different galleries in one evening with a synchronized schedule of events every month."

"We've talked about doing all kinds of fun things in future months, like having musical entertainment or book signings - all different kinds of things to go along with the shows that we have up," said Nancy Sizer, Director of the Detroit Artists Market, who is on the planning team for Art Detroit Now. The organization also includes the College for Creative Studies, Cranbrook, Detroit Institute of Arts, N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, MOCAD, Oakland University and Wayne State University.

Duthie noted that neighborhoods such as Downtown, Midtown, Eastern Market, North End, and Corktown are thought of as being separate. "But when thinking about them on an urban geographic scale, these communities are so close. One Thursday evening can make a difference, as it offers that additional window of time to encounter that great art experience people cannot fit into their already busy weekend schedules."

The event, which started in Feb. 2012 on the third Thursday of every month, extends the hours of more than 45 participating venues until 9 p.m. for special programming, shows, and offerings. This includes fall new comers like Ellen Kayrod Gallery, Spread Art @detroit contemporary, and Sugar Hill Clay Studios. Besides galleries, small and specialized boutiques, artist studios, cafe's and coffee shops participate to support and cross-promote one another. The number of attendees, Duthie said, has grown steadily from approximately 400 to about 1000.

For Whitdel Arts on 1250 Hubbard St. in Detroit, 3rd Thursdays has been quite successful, according to JenClare Gawaran, President and Board of Directors at the gallery.

"It can be a bit more difficult to get people over to Southwest Detroit, where the cluster of galleries isn't so centralized. We usually have limited open gallery hours every week. On 3rd Thursday, we've found that a good amount of people will come in to see the exhibitions. For us, the number can range between 12 to 20 people. It may not sound like much, but we consider that a positive turnout and expect that number to increase as people continue to be familiar with the whole 3rd Thursday programming," she said.

The events held at Whitdel Arts are focused on topics and information they feel active artists should know. "Many of us here are artists ourselves, so we understand the importance of having regular critiques, as well as workshops to further your skills in the studio or helpful advice about your artistic career."

"An event like this is a great opportunity for Detroiters to see Detroit art as well as experience the swell of community cohesiveness that is growing and thriving all throughout Detroit," said Erik Garant, Operations Director at 555 Nonprofit Gallery and Studios on 2801 W. Vernor Hwy in Detroit.

"To me, Detroit is an art city, besides many other great things. Art lives and breathes in our work, our personal lives, our cities' buildings, our schools and our homes, as well as the history of the city and its people. I feel that 3rd Thursday is casual enough that it attracts artists and non-artists alike and that is a great thing," said Garant. "All and all, I truly feel that it's crucial to participate in order to create bridges and fill the gaps that sometimes exist from community to community, gallery to gallery and even artist to artist."

Duthie said, "Every month, new and interesting offerings and events will take place so no 3rd Thursday is similar."

For a list of participating locations and for more information, visit, and their Facebook and Twitter pages for regular posts and updates.

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