Cranbrook Art Museum and Nick Cave Announce “Nick Cave: Here Hear”

Photo by James Prinz Photography. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Photo by James Prinz Photography. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York


Seven-month project includes Museum exhibition and Cave’s “Biggest, Baddest Performance Series!”

Bloomfield Hills, Mich., March 30, 2015 – This spring, summer, and fall, Cranbrook Art Museum and Detroit will serve as the backdrop for Nick Cave’s most ambitious project to date – Nick Cave: Here Hear. At the invitation of Cranbrook Art Museum, Cave will stage seven months of events throughout the city of Detroit anchored by his first solo exhibition in Michigan at Cranbrook Art Museum, opening this summer. Nick Cave is an artist and dancer, famous for his sculptures, called Soundsuits, which he often stages in public spectacle.

The events will kick off in April, when Nick begins “invading” the city of Detroit for a series of site-specific photo shoots. His first stop will be on the Peristyle at Cranbrook Art Museum at noon on April 10. Cave will be dressed in one of his iconic Soundsuits giving the public the rare opportunity to see the artist dressed in a suit himself. He will continue to “pop up” at locations throughout the city of Detroit in April and May – the Dequindre Cut, the Brightmoor neighborhood, the Parade Company, Mexicantown, the African Bead Museum, Eastern Market, The Fisher Building, One Woodward Avenue and many more. Follow Cranbrook Art Museum on Facebook and Twitter for clues about his locations and the opportunity to see Cave in action at some of these locations. The photographs will be published as a book this summer, titled Nick Cave: Greetings from Detroit, depicting the positive creativity of the city.

The exhibition at Cranbrook Art Museum will open to the public on June 20 and run through October 11, 2015. It will include a collection of approximately 30 sculptural Soundsuits in the main gallery, offset by a room of seven newly commissioned artworks surrounded by a wall-based tapestry inspired by Cave’s childhood watching the night sky. An additional gallery will feature a selection of his recent sculpture work and a projection room of the artist’s video work. Finally, the “Map in Action” room will serve as a hub for the Detroit Performance Series and display the wearable Soundsuits that will come and go to performances throughout the city of Detroit. Video footage of the performances will be added to the room throughout the duration of the show, thereby becoming a living document of the entire project.

A full weekend of celebrations are planned for the exhibition opening, including a film screening and block party performance in Detroit’s Brightmoor and Old Redford communities on Sunday, June 21 at both the historic Redford Theatre and The Artist Village.

Cave will be using his time in Detroit to engage the area in a philosophy he calls “collective dreaming.” Cave is a 1989 graduate of Cranbrook Academy of Art, and he has said the time he spent in Detroit was critical to his growth as an artist. He is returning to capture the excitement currently captivating the city. “My goal,” says the artist, “is to work with these groups and those who live in and love the city to reimagine Detroit as an always-surprising environment of creativity, excitement, and engagement. My dreams for the city are big, because I believe it is important for Detroit to be dreaming ambitiously at this moment about its own future.”

In addition to the exhibition, Cave will use the city of Detroit to stage his largest performance series to date. He will design Dance Labs in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD); work with LBGTQ young adults from the Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park to create the performance Up Right Detroit, and work with students from the Detroit School of Arts and the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy for Heard•Detroit, a procession of as many as 30 life-size horse sculptures operated by 60 high school dancers that will parade along Detroit’s riverfront on Saturday, September 26. Cave’s project will culminate at the end of the exhibition in October, when the artist will stage Figure This: Detroit, a massive public performance at Detroit’s Masonic Temple on Sunday, October 4.

Though influenced by a vibrant palette of African art, armor, found objects, and fashion and textile design, Cave’s Soundsuits are rooted in social critique. Cave first created a suit in the aftermath of the Rodney King beatings in 1991, envisioning an emotional shield that protects one’s race or gender while still expressing individuality.

“Nick Cave’s return begins with his past connection to the city, but it is fueled by an enthusiasm for the future of Detroit,” says Cranbrook Art Museum Curator of Contemporary Art and Design Laura Mott. “This ambitious project is sited in many different neighborhoods and communities throughout the city and it is part of Cave’s mission to ignite Detroit’s collective imagination. Nick Cave chose the title—Here Hear—because it speaks to both the place and an act of engagement, and together they form a triumphant cheer.”

According to Cave, “the exhibition at Cranbrook is a way to recognize and celebrate the richness in the city of Detroit. The idea of rebuilding and repurposing is very much in line with what I do as an artist.”

Cranbrook Art Museum Director Gregory Wittkopp says this project highlights Cranbrook’s plans to continue to connect its international exhibition program with the city of Detroit, and also to highlight work from alumni of Cranbrook Academy of Art. “We’ve made a special effort over the past two years to bring more emerging and contemporary artists into our exhibitions, with a focus on Detroit-based artists and graduates from Cranbrook Academy of Art,” Wittkopp says. “The Nick Cave project not only fulfills both goals, it knocks them out of the park.”

The project will also include “Nick Cave: Exploring Identity through the Arts,” a K-12 curriculum for educators that will be available online without charge. It will encourage students to explore social and cultural issues relevant to their personal and community identity through the arts. Cranbrook Art Museum will also offer costume workshops and camps inspired by the work of Nick Cave during the summer months.

This project has attracted a wide variety of sponsors and community partners who are eager to share Cranbrook Art Museum’s desire to spread creative positivity throughout Detroit. The Presenting Sponsors are the Ford Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, who through their Knight Arts Challenge Detroit initiative look to fund ideas that engage and enrich Detroit through the arts. Cranbrook Art Museum received a matching grant of $150,000 to kick-off this ambitious project. According to Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts for Knight Foundation, “Detroit’s future is being driven by the cultural creatives who have big ideas for their city. It’s an honor to help bring visual artist Nick Cave back to the Michigan, to engage many more people in thinking creatively about their lives, their neighborhoods, their Detroit.”

Leadership Sponsors include Quicken Loans with their Opportunity Detroit mission and The Kresge Foundation. The Major Sponsor is The Taubman Foundation. Supporting Sponsors include Strategic Staffing Solutions, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Masco Corporation Foundation, Maggie and Bob Allesee, and the Jack Shainman Gallery. Community Partners include the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, the Ruth Ellis Center, Detroit School of Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

The ambitious schedule of events for Nick Cave: Here Hear, includes:

April 10: Nick Cave will give a public appearance performing in a Soundsuit on the Peristyle outside of Cranbrook Art Museum at noon.
April 10-15; May 1-5: Nick Cave Soundsuit “invasion” photo shoots in Detroit.
June 19: Nick Cave: Here Hear ArtMembers and Sponsors exhibition preview.
June 20: Nick Cave: Here Hear opens to the public at Cranbrook Art Museum
June 21: Celebration and performance at the historic Redford Theatre, followed by a celebration at The Artist Village, engaging the Brightmoor, Old Redford and Northwest Detroit communities. These events will be free and open to the public.
July 2015: Up Right Detroit: a performance with participants from the Ruth Ellis Center. Conceived by Nick Cave as an “act of initiation” and a preparation of the mind, body, spirit, and selfhood, a group of African-American men will undergo a ritual of being costumed in elaborate Soundsuits, before they reenter the city, transformed. The site, date and format will be determined by funding initiatives.
July/August 2015: Cranbrook Art Museum will partner with the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) to present three Dance Labs designed by Nick Cave. He will pair three local dance companies with three groups of musicians to create their own choreographed works with his extraordinary Soundsuits. The rehearsals at MOCAD will be open to viewers, and the free public performances will be staged in locations throughout the city. Dates and times to be announced.
September 26, 2015: As a continuation of his renowned performance series, Nick Cave will present Heard•Detroit as a partnership between Cranbrook Art Museum, The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy and The Detroit School of Arts. The project will feature a procession of as many as 30 life-size horse sculptures operated by 60 high-school dancers along the Detroit riverfront. A dreamlike vision that stops everyday life for a collective transformative moment, Heard•Detroit will be performed by talented dancers and musicians attending the Detroit School of Arts, one of four magnet schools in the Detroit Public School system. The performance along the riverfront will be free and open to the public.
October 4, 2015: The culmination of the project will be Figure This: Detroit, a large-scale performance comprised of the dances and music from the Dance Labs, a presentation by children of their Cave-inspired creations, and the artist’s new artwork Up Right Detroit. This final performance will be a free event in Detroit’s Masonic Temple for an audience of hundreds.

About Cranbrook Art Museum
Cranbrook Art Museum is located at 39221 Woodward Avenue, on the campus of Cranbrook Educational Community in Bloomfield Hills. It is an integral part of Cranbrook Academy of Art, a community of Artists-in-Residence and graduate-level students of art, design, and architecture. Cranbrook Art Museum was established in 1930 and opened in its current building in 1942. The building is considered Eliel Saarinen’s final masterwork at Cranbrook. Today, the Art Museum presents original exhibitions and educational programming on modern and contemporary architecture, art, crafts, and design, as well as traveling exhibitions, films, workshops, travel tours, and lectures by renowned artists, designers, artists, and critics throughout the year. In 2011, the Art Museum completed a three-year $22 million construction project that included both the restoration of the Saarinen-designed building and a new state-of-the-art Collections Wing addition. Cranbrook Archives and the offices of the new Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research also are located within the Art Museum. For more information, visit www.cranbrook.edu.

Getting “T-Square” All Square

CRANBROOK SIGHTING #2
Sighter: Chad Alligood
Sighted: Tony Rosenthal, T-Square, 1975-76
Location: Detroit, MI
Date:  September 24, 2012

Monday morning, 9 a.m. On a typical Monday at this time, I’m settling in to my sweet Knoll-designed desk in our newly-renovated office space at the museum. “Settling in” for me means checking my calendar and email, guzzling Diet Coke, and chowing down on granola bars. But this is no typical Monday: I stepped out of the car with my three museum colleagues into a gritty, industrial corridor on Detroit’s East Side—worlds away from the meticulously manicured lawns and bubbling fountains of Cranbrook’s campus.

This is the setting for Venus Bronze Works, a local firm specializing in the conservation and restoration of outdoor sculpture. Giorgio Gikas, the founder and president of Venus, met us in his massive, hangar-like space to examine and discuss his ongoing conservation of T-Square (1975-1976), a large-scale outdoor steel sculpture by Tony Rosenthal (1914-2009) in the museum’s collection. Works of art that are situated outdoors present their own unique challenges of preservation, and T-Square is no exception: after decades of sitting directly on those aforementioned manicured lawns, the massive sculpture plainly begged for restoration and repair. Years of exposure to rain and snow had caused some elements to rust through, threatening the work’s long-term stability and preservation. Of course, Rosenthal anticipated that his outdoor steel sculptures would develop a layer of rust as they aged. In fact, these installation photographs from the object file show a lovely orange oxidation over the surface of the object in 1978—just two years after its completion!

But by the middle of the 2000s, the deterioration of the steel at the sculpture’s base had begun to compromise its structural viability. In 2004, Gregory Wittkopp, Director of Cranbrook Art Museum, contacted Rosenthal to discuss best practices for conservation and preservation of his outdoor sculpture. The artist recommended a number of steps to conserve the work, including repair of the steel tubes followed by sandblasting, priming, and painting with industrial epoxy coating to preserve the steel. Enter Giorgio, a highly skilled sculptural conservator with over 25 years of experience, and voila—we have the first step in a repaired T-Square.

So far, Giorgio has refabricated interior brackets that had rusted through and reinforced the interior sidewall and other portions of the steel tubing. The next step: sandblasting the weathered surface so that the sealant can adhere. When all is said and done, T-Square can triumphantly return from Giorgio’s workshop—30-odd miles away—back to its home at Cranbrook, where it will rest atop a newly-poured concrete pad to protect it from pooling moisture. One of the potential sites for the sculpture is just outside my window here at the museum…perhaps one Monday morning at 9 a.m. in the not-too-distant future, I can look out my window with a mouth full of granola and smile, knowing that T-Square is in better shape than ever.

Posted by Chad Alligood
2012-13 Jeanne and Ralph Graham Collections Fellow