Creative Time and NYPL present a collaborative venture, In Situ

Creative Time and The New York Public Library (NYPL) are proud to present a new collaborative venture, In Situ, a site-specific series of conversations pairing leading artists and public intellectuals to address critical topics of our time. The series premiered on March 16, 2017, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, with future events taking place at other iconic locations throughout New York City. With a half-century of expertise presenting landmark events between the two institutions, this collaboration between The NYPL and Creative Time presents dialogues that engage large and diverse audiences. 

Creative Time has a long history of connecting artists, sites, and audiences. Likewise, NYPL is renowned for its engaging public programs, featuring a who’s who of art, literature and culture. Together, we address today’s most pressing issues in locations that resonate and transform those ideas. 

The inaugural In Situ talk featured artist Janine Antoni and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižekexploring “How to Reasonably Believe in God.” The conversation was moderated by Sister Helen Prejean. A performance by Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir kicked off the event.

The second installment of In Situ focused on the theme of “How to Construct a 21st Century Feminism.” The conversation featured poet Eileen Myles, with founder, Anna Holmes, followed by a performance by JD Samson of MEN and Le Tigre along with members of The Lower Eastside Girls Club.

The third In Situ event, “How to Make Living Sustainable,” takes place September 23rd at Sims Municipal Recycling in Brooklyn with artist Mel Chin and attorney and environmental and climate justice leader Elizabeth Yeampierre in conversation, moderated by GrowNYC’s President and CEO Marcel Van Ooyen.

Stephen Ross, Ford Foundation to invest in Platform projects throughout city

Billionaire developer Stephen Ross and the New York-based Ford Foundation are teaming up with The Platform LLC to make a $27.5 million investment in bringing housing to Detroit neighborhoods.

Ross, a Detroit native and New York real estate developer who also owns the Miami Dolphins, announced a $7.5 million investment and the Ford Foundation a $10 million investment during the Detroit Homecoming event Thursday night at the Detroit Film Theatre at the DIA.

Their investments add to $10 million from The Platform, a development company formed by Peter Cummings and Dietrich Knoer.

The Platform Neighborhood Initiative is bringing affordable housing, plus market-rate apartments, to areas outside of the significant development that’s already taken place in the downtown and Midtown areas. Neighborhoods targeted for the projects include Islandview, Brightmoor/Old Redford, Live6, New Center, TechTown, Milwaukee Junction, North End, Eastern Market and the Riverfront.

“If you have a real estate personality as prominent as Stephen Ross and an institution like the Ford Foundation making these kinds of commitments, it says as much about the city of Detroit as it does The Platform,” Cummings said.

He said Ford Foundation CEO Darren Walker and Ross met a few weeks ago on other business and began discussing Detroit Homecoming and potentially making an investment. Ross agreed to call Cummings, and the deal was set in motion. Ross is the nephew of the late Detroit businessman Max Fisher, and Cummings is married to Fisher’s daughter, Julia Fisher Cummings.

“It’s an expression of his confidence in the kind of work we are doing and the dynamic market we have in Detroit,” Cummings said.

“Stephen Ross is one of our country’s most successful entrepreneurs and I’m glad he is coming back to his hometown,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in an emailed statement.

The partnership is also “yet another example of the commitment Darren Walker and the Ford Foundation have to Detroit.”

Cummings and Ford Foundation CEO Darren Walker engaged Ross in a conversation about the special moment Detroit is in, said Xav Briggs, who is vice president of economic opportunity and markets and oversees the foundation’s Mission-Related Investment Fund.

“The city is resurging. (But) by the same token, not everybody is a part of that.”

Each of the three investors bring something, Briggs said: Platform with the neighborhood development plan, the Ford Foundation with its mission-related investment and broader strategy to support equitable revitalization in Detroit and Ross with a connection to his hometown and the ability to influence future investment.

Ross “knows well, as do we, that an investment by Stephen Ross sends a signal to the marketplace,” Briggs said.

“The opportunity to be a part of his hometown’s comeback using his expertise and then (to leverage) his reputation as a real estate investor was too good to pass up.”

After the event, Ross had little to say about his decision to invest in Detroit real estate.

“I mean, hey, it’s where I’m from,” Ross told reporters. “I want to see the city come back. It’s all about that.”

Ford Foundation’s $10 million investment in the neighborhood development is the among the first mission-related investments it’s made since its April commitment to invest $1 billion of its $12 billion endowment over the next decade to mission-related investments that produce a market-rate of return while also doing good.

It comes in addition to the foundation’s annual philanthropic grants and its commitment to the so-called “grand bargain” that helped shore up Detroit pension plans to help the city emerge from bankruptcy, while also preserving the Detroit Institute of Arts collection.

The investment in the Platform Neighborhood Initiative is a “two-fer,” Briggs said. “It aligns with the foundation’s intent to focus investments on affordable housing in the U.S., an urgent need in so many parts of the country, while also supporting the broader revitalization of Detroit, particularly beyond the downtown and Midtown areas.”

In making mission-related investments, foundations are required by law to evaluate both financial and social return.

“This is not for us about making out-sized financial return, but earning a decent financial return while doing an awful lot of good is possible here,” Briggs said.

“That’s because of all the leadership in Detroit, to make smart bets, to include a wider range of partners over time.”

What’s especially exciting about this investment is the foundation didn’t create the concern for equity and inclusion it’s focused on, Briggs said. “Platform brought it, to their credit.”

There’s a tendency in American cities to treat every dollar invested as a positive, he said. But investments that displace people from a place they call home are anything but positive.

The Platform will report out the impact of the investment over time. The company has large-scale developments surrounding Grand Boulevard and out into the neighborhoods with project costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Among them are a renovation of the Fisher Building, a new apartment development at Third Street and Grand Boulevard and others peppered throughout places such as Brightmoor/Old Redford and the Islandview neighborhoods.

Cummings “intends to be quite transparent about where this is going, to what kinds of partners, to focus on a real equitable approach. That is a compelling factor for us,” Briggs said.

The foundation is looking at a range of investment opportunities for additional mission-related investments in the future, he said.

He declined to say if any others are in Detroit but said, “We remain very open to building on the grant investments in the recovery organizations like Develop Detroit and many others … to bring this particular investment tool to bear.”


Joakim Noah and the Drop of Consciousness Movement

Uniting Chicago youth through arts programming & peace awareness inspired by the Drop of Consciousness to create positive change in our communities.

Noah’s Arc Foundation and After School Matters are uniting forces to inspire peace in Chicago communities through arts programming and the Drop of Consciousness movement. With both organizations’ deep connection to the city of Chicago, its communities and its youth, the Rock Your Drop on the Block event provides a platform for Chicago’s youth to have their voices heard. Youth draw inspiration from the pillars of Noah’s Arc as well as the Drop of Consciousness to develop visual and performance art that will be showcased at the Rock Your Drop on the Block event as well as peace flags that will be carried by hundreds of youth and community members as they march to the event.

Throughout the summer teens participating in the arts programming throughout the city of Chicago will be discussing, reflecting, and creating artwork that is influenced by the pillars of Noah’s Arc including awareness, consciousness, unity, and gratitude as well as the Drop of Consciousness movement for peace.

When you Rock Your Drop, you pledge to help end violence, take responsibility for positive change and commit to spreading the message.


Detroit House Music Takes a Swaggering Step Out of the Darkness

Frank Ocean, Solange and A Tribe Called Quest have top billing at the Panorama Festival on Randalls Island in New York next weekend. Squint a little, however, and the finer print farther down the poster reveals another vital expression of contemporary African-American popular music: a showcase of some of today’s finest and funkiest Detroit house producers and D.J.s.

In clubs and record stores around the world, the names of Detroit house luminaries are uttered in hushed tones, their self-released vinyl lining shop walls when available and fetching eye-popping prices online when not. For devotees of Detroit’s distinctly syncopated, uniquely swaggering sound, Friday at Panorama will be an opportunity to see a handful of the scene’s most important artists do something rare in the United States: share a stage outdoors in the light of day instead of near dawn in a dark club.

The story was quite different in the late 1990s, when the Detroit house music producer Theo Parrish played his first New York D.J. gig at the Chelsea megaclub Twilo, long since shuttered. At the time, Mr. Parrish was a resident D.J. at Better Days, a tiny, no-frills sweatbox with cinder-block walls and minimal lighting in Detroit where D.J.s could intimately connect with a predominantly African-American community of dancers and fellow musicians. Twilo, on the other hand, was a gargantuan playground replete with lasers and smoke machines, home to a monthly residency by the British trance music titans Sasha and Digweed. The difference between the Motor City and Big Apple dance music cultures could hardly have been starker.

After a seemingly endless set by the night’s mediocre headliner, Mr. Parrish took to the decks and began with some jazzy tracks including Hugh Masekela’s “Mama,” which spurred a migration from the dance floor to the exits. The exodus deepened when Mr. Parrish played the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar,” and shortly after he spun Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy,” club management yanked him off the turntables. “They gave me the Apollo Theater cane,” Mr. Parrish said over the phone from Detroit, chuckling at the recollection. “That was a learning curve. But I really thought they were going to go for it, that’s the truth.”

Like his Detroit colleagues, Mr. Parrish, 44, finds his largest audience abroad, particularly in Europe. His coming appearance at Panorama is not only his biggest New York booking, but his largest potential audience in the United States to date. On Friday’s bill, he’ll be joined by Omar-S, as well as two other Detroit producers, Marcellus Pittman (a member of the Detroit house supergroup 3 Chairs, along with Mr. Parrish, Moodymann and Rick Wilhite) and Jay Daniel. It’s the kind of stacked lineup aficionados would find at an after-party for the dance-music festival Movement in Detroit rather than a big-tent pop event outside of the genre’s home base.

When the organizers of Panorama — a three-day extravaganza presented by Goldenvoice, the producers of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival — created a dream roster of D.J.s to play the Point, Panorama’s new electronic dance music stage, Mr. Parrish’s name topped their personal wish lists.

David Prince, one of the bookers at the Point, called Mr. Parrish’s D.J. work “very versatile and very tasty.” Referring to his boundary-pushing 2014 album, “American Intelligence,” Mr. Prince added: “He’s also really far out. I think that’s what we were looking for. This is not the kind of music that you would expect at any other festival in New York that has the kind of main-stage bands we do.”

Detroit house’s signature sound is “as specific a musical imprint as our fingerprint,” Mr. Parrish said. Warmer than Chicago’s late 1980s acid house, rawer than New York’s slick, Latin-influenced garage house, and more subtle (and certainly more groovy) than the kind of EDM that has become a blockbuster enterprise in Las Vegas and on radio and streaming services, Detroit house is more thoroughly rooted in the continuum of black music than other schools of electronic music.

“What you hear in the records more than anything else is tradition,” Mr. Parrish said. “What you’ll find with most Detroit producers is that we typically don’t follow the rules of the standard ‘four on the floor’ basic house pattern, we don’t really mess with that.”

The D.J. and producer Jay Daniel, at home in Highland Park, Mich. Credit Laura McDermott for The New York Times
Mr. Daniel said the sound comes from the city being “like a bubble.” “It’s very authentic, whether you call it Motown, like Stevie Wonder, or Dilla or techno, it all comes from a true place,” he said. “We have our own perspective on things. It’s like a way that you flip something. Like New York has with hip-hop and Biggie Smalls, his use of language and everything, Detroit has that in our ear and instrumentation.”

Over the last two decades, Detroit’s house music community has flourished despite existing in the shadow of the city’s more celebrated techno scene and innovators like Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Carl Craig. Mr. Parrish and the nearly two-dozen Detroit-based producers on the international club circuit have succeeded on their own terms and playing by their own rules, embracing a resolutely independent ethos that, to outsiders, might seem impenetrable.

Moodymann and Omar-S largely avoid interviews, and Mr. Parrish’s frequently idiosyncratic productions and penchant for playing whatever he wants, whenever he wants to, during his D.J. sets — regardless of how packed the dance floor might be — have given him a somewhat imposing image. In the D.J. booth, however, deep in the mix, the charismatic Mr. Parrish oozes an infectious exuberance, expressively contorting his face while he adjusts the EQ knobs and passionately moves to the music.

While some earlier Detroit recordings bring exorbitant collector prices, it’s lately become easier to track down their work. Mr. Parrish’s own Sound Signature label keeps most of his back catalog in circulation, and his first two albums, “First Floor” from 1998 and “Parallel Dimensions” from 2000, were recently reissued on vinyl. In the last year, Moodymann released a praised entry in the DJ-Kicks mix series, was sampled by Drake on the “More Life” track “Passionfruit,” and played a four-hour set of Prince rarities that was one of the highlights of the recent New York edition of the Red Bull Music Academy Festival in May.

Competitive juices help fuel a high standard. In Detroit, “you’re not playing to people who are just fans, you’re playing to people that are fans and studiers and practitioners and who are a lot of times badass in their own right,” Mr. Parrish said. “We’ve got monsters around us, and it’s hard to impress them with basic music.”

Omar-S comes to Panorama after building up his career while toiling for more than a decade at a Ford Motor Company plant, using the same felt marker from his day job certifying parts to scrawl the handwritten labels on the early releases of his FXHE label. His brash confidence is conveyed in album titles like “It Can Be Done but Only I Can Do It” and “The Best!” but his productions have backed up the hype. In 2009, he used the opportunity of a mix record on the British label Fabric — where D.J.s typically show off the breadth of their record collections — to instead compile a scintillating survey of his own work.

Omar-S, like Mr. Parrish and many of his contemporaries, is a D.I.Y. record company entrepreneur who has kicked off the careers of younger artists, including Kyle Hall. Likewise, Mr. Daniel has benefited from the strong support network that fosters up-and-coming Detroit talent.

His mother, the vocalist Naomi Daniel, sang on two 12-inch singles produced and released by Mr. Craig in 1993. Mr. Daniel was 3 when they came out, and remembers listening to them “and being mesmerized, like, ‘Yo, that’s my mom’s voice, over music and everything.’ That was my introduction to recorded music.”

It wasn’t until Mr. Daniel was 19 that he was introduced to the current house scene by Mr. Hall and actually began At a 3 Chairs party, he handed some demo recordings to Mr. Parrish, who surprised him by offering to release his music, which Mr. Daniel said “seemed far-fetched to me.” The resulting “Scorpio Rising” EP in 2013 on Sound Signature immediately provided Mr. Daniel with the opportunity to begin touring as a D.J. and playing overseas.

Now 26, he has traveled to 15 countries; started his own label, Watusi High, issuing one EP with another coming this fall; and released a debut album, “Broken Knowz,” last year on the Ninja Tune-affiliated label Technicolour, using his own live percussion for songs like “Knowledge of Selfie” and “Paradise Valley.” (The latter title refers to the entertainment district of Detroit’s most historic African-American neighborhood, which was demolished in the 1960s to make way for expressways to the suburbs).

But an opportunity like Panorama, when American bookings like this are still rare, is a thrill. “With this being such a big event held in the States, I don’t even know if this would have been possible a few years ago,” Mr. Daniel said. “It all just goes to show how far I’ve come.”


Letter of Recommendation: Detroit Techno

In the early ’80s, the Roland Corporation, a Japanese electronics company, developed two machines that would soon become obsolete and change the world, in that order. The TR-808 Rhythm Composer and the TB-303 Bass Line — synthesizers with built-in sequencers — were designed for musicians to practice with at home, by programming artificial accompaniment. They used voltage-­controlled oscillators to generate sound waves intended to resemble an acoustic drum set and an electric bass. Sonically harsh and rigid, they were considered largely unsuitable by serious musicians, and they trickled into thrift stores, garage sales and pawn shops. Eventually, they were discovered by D.J.s in the Midwest, who used them to create sounds that no existing instrument was capable of making.

People often forget that the most visionary musical styles to come from America in the late 20th century — house and techno — are not from the coastal capitals of modern culture but the perennially neglected Rust Belt. House was born in Chicago and got its name somewhat incidentally, from a club at the center of the scene called The Warehouse. But the word ‘‘techno’’ was chosen by design: Juan Atkins, a Detroit musician who put out the genre’s first records, named it after a section in Alvin Toffler’s book ‘‘The Third Wave,’’ called ‘‘The Techno-­Rebels.’’ Toffler was describing what we might now refer to as hackers — those who refused to limit their uses of machines to the intentions of their manufacturers.

Roland’s engineers couldn’t have anticipated the mutant synthesis of funk, disco, post-punk and electroacoustic music coaxed out of their machines by Atkins and his first collaborators, two friends from high school named Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. Theirs is such an all-­American story that it could be a Bruce Springsteen song: teenagers from the outskirts of an industrial town, united by music, ambition and cars. The three formed a D.J. crew named Deep Space Soundworks, upstaging competitors by mixing in a live TR-808. The next step was to start making records of their own.

What the uninitiated always notice first is the beat. Most techno uses the ‘‘four on the floor’’ rhythm it got from disco and shares with house — the thump of the bass drum on every downbeat. Traditional instruments like pianos and strings make occasional appearances. But more often than not, synthesizers and sequencers are used to form sound waves from scratch. I like to imagine what the instruments making these sounds would look like were they to take physical form — maybe some fleshy contraption from a David Cronenberg movie, capable of mutating, with the twist of a knob, into a completely different shape right before our ears. Or maybe the sound of a star shooting past your windshield as you drive up the freeway into outer space.

‘‘The music is just like Detroit, a complete mistake,’’ May said in the liner notes to a seminal techno compilation, 1988’s ‘‘Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit.’’ ‘‘It’s like George Clinton and Kraftwerk are stuck in an elevator with only a sequencer to keep them company.’’ Perhaps it’s Kraftwerk’s legacy that led techno to become such a huge success in Europe. Unfortunately, that trajectory has overshadowed the other half of May’s equation. Despite its heartland origins, techno gets a bad rap in America. We associate it with party drugs, velvet ropes, glow sticks. Rave culture in England, club culture in Germany and a string of Scandinavian superstar D.J.s have made black artists like Atkins, May and Saunderson appear to be an anomaly in electronic music.

‘It’s like George Clinton and Kraftwerk are stuck in an elevator with only a sequencer to keep them company.’
This erasure might have something to do with Detroit techno’s complicated relationship with the black musical tradition — in particular, Detroit’s. Atkins has said, somewhat heretically, that he’s ‘‘more interested in Ford’s robots than [Berry] Gordy’s music.’’ The radical act of Detroit’s techno rebels was that they entered an inhuman network of machinery and found a voice within it — which aligns them with a different Detroit legacy. The city’s first independent black autoworkers’ organization was called the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement — or DRUM. Members chanted the word while marching, as though keeping a beat.

The same wave of technological advancement that brought the world the TR-808 and the TB-303 was also supposed to bring Detroit’s industry into the future; instead, it facilitated the calamitous undoing of its economy. These conditions gave techno an urgent relevance. The refusal to allow machinery to dictate human activity unites the shop floor and the dance floor. When I listen to techno, I don’t just hear the electronics; I hear the hands operating them.

This quality is evident on my favorite techno track, ‘‘The Cosmic Courier,’’ which Atkins made alongside two European musicians in 1992, as the sound had started its trans-­Atlantic journey. It begins, like music itself, with a beat, the forward motion of time, following our orbit through the swirling clouds of the cosmos. Other components enter one by one. A bass line as tangible as a body, reminding us of the riddle of physical matter. An insistent chordal vamp, searching for some kind of harmony, trying to make sense of it all. Then, suddenly, a melody emerges, a small but unmistakable voice, both earthly and alien, of its environment yet distinct within it. The clouds part, and everything falls away but the unyielding beat and the delicate presence of melody. In it, I hear nothing less than the human spirit, somewhere in a vast, inscrutable universe, daring to exist.


Art-Deco Half-Pipe Inside an Iconic 1920s Skyscraper

Everard Findlay brought an extreme sports installation to Albert Kahn’s landmark Detroit architecture, the Fisher Building.

It’s a sight Fisher Building architect Albert Kahn couldn’t fathom in 1928: a five-foot mini-ramp packed with skateboarders in one of his greatest architectural achievements. In Detroit, such a brash juxtaposition is becoming the norm. As the city’s creative class grows, it’s spilling into Detroit’s historic building stock. It’s a trend in post-industrial cities with space to spare, but Everard Findlay’s extreme sports vision set inside of Detroit’s largest art object (the Fisher Building’s oft-quoted nickname) still manages to make a bold statement.

The installation stretched across four days and attracted an array of architecture nerds, extreme sports fans and youthful faces from the nearby neighborhood. Members of legendary techno outfit Underground Resistance provided the soundtrack. The entire project was completed in under two weeks—two days for construction (led by Detroit-based Ramped Construction), and less than 10 days for the paint job.

It’s a swift timeline familiar to the building’s history. The 1.1 million square foot skyscraper was completed in just 15 months and boasts 430 tons of bronze, a stunning three-story arcade with a mammoth fresco finish and over 50 types of marble from around the globe (nothing like breaking your arm skateboarding on the fine Italian marble of the Fisher Building).

A trio of local artists—Miranda Wedge, Brian Oscar and Hillary Butterworth—designed the mini-ramp’s vivid tribute to Géza Maróti’s stunning Fisher Building fresco.

Hand-painted in just two months by Maróti and five immigrant painters, the stunning fresco stretches across the entire arcade and recently underwent a $500,000 restoration. A flora and fauna theme dominates with pearly white, redheaded cherubs frolicking among evergreen and hemlock needles.

Maróti’s work was rooted in Hungarian tradition but modern for America in 1928. The homage created by Wedge and her cohorts would be considered revolutionary if unveiled in the same era. “When we came together, one of the main things we discussed was the figures in the fresco being some of the most important overall,” says Wedge. “Instead of it being another white woman, we wanted to represent a whole community that isn’t represented in the building at all.”

Wedge updated the flora and fauna theme to represent the wildlife of Detroit’s neighborhoods today—a pheasant, a squirrel and a pit bull round out the design.

The project was funded by The Platform, the current owners of the Fisher Building. While they declined to disclose the cost of the installation, it’s part of a $100-million restoration and investment into the property with the goal of creating a hub for culture, arts and music that attracts new tenants. Next up for the Fisher Building is a full-blown, festival-sized production of homegrown indie darlings Flint Eastwood’s record release show on April 14.

Read on the Vice


Watch skateboarders inside one of Detroit’s most opulent Art Deco buildings

The brainchild of global brand strategist Everard Findlay, the project seeks to create common ground inside one of the city’s most illustrious buildings. “I envisioned putting a halfpipe in the Fisher Building to celebrate community cohesion in the city of Detroit,” Findlay tells Lonely Planet. “Skating—a sport which embodies diversity in every way, has the unique ability to draw together radically different people.”

Read on the Lonely Planet


You’ve never seen the Fisher Building like this

When we heard that the Fisher Building arcade would be activated more often as the restoration of the art deco building continues, we never thought we’d see this.

From April 3-6, a halfpipe is set up in the lobby of the Fisher Building. It’s an incredible sight, and open to the public to watch from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. each evening. The event also includes live music and food. You should see this.

The halfpipe was built by Ramped Construction and the design was painted by local artists Hillary Butterworth, Miranda Wedge, and Brian Oscar. Their instagram posts, linked in their names, show their progress as they painted the halfpipe. The colors and designs were clearly inspired by the frescoes in the Fisher Building.

Read on the Curbed


Halfpipe draws crowds in Detroit’s Fisher Building lobby

A BMX and skateboarding halfpipe has been set up right in the middle of Detroit’s magnificent Fisher Building.

The “Fisher Halfpipe” kicked off Monday night at Fisher Building. Professional and semi-pro skateboarders, inline skaters and BMX bikers will ride four at a time on the 26-foot-long, 16-foot-wide ramp. The half-pipe is surrounded by historic 1920s Detroit architecture in what’s widely considered the most ornamented gallery in the city.

The state-of-the-art halfpipe is located right in the middle of the building’s lobby. Artwork on the halfpipe mirrors the new artwork on the Fisher’s ceiling with a modern twist.

“Skating has this really powerful and unique way of really being inclusive, of being a cross-cultural platform,” says creator Everard Findlay. He says the project meshes old Detroit with the new.

Thousands of people showed interest in using the halfpipe. About one hundred people were pre-selected to use the equipment.

The halfpipe won’t be in the building forever, as much as some of the skaters would like that. It will be open from 6-9 p.m. every day this week until Thursday, April 6, 2017.

Skating registration is closed but it’s still open to the public if you want to come out and watch the skaters.

Read on Fox

Everard Findlay