In September 2018, The Irwin House Global Art Center & Gallery opened in West End Detroit with a grassroots exhibition in honor of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Still under construction, the gallery pushed for an early opening to provide a space for Detroit local artists and invited creatives to reflect on the spirit of Aretha through visual, literary, and performative arts.
The resulting exhibition – SuperNatural Woman: Tribute to the Queen – has been curated by Gallery Director, Omo Misha, with conceptual artist and writer, John Sims, and features the work of Amber Doe, Amir Bey, Artis Lane (courtesy of N’Namdi Center for the Arts), Cyrah Dardas, Donald Calloway, Ingrid LaFleur, Jason Phillips, John Sims, Lorna Colin Braxton, Makeba Rainey, Marsha Music, Noreen Dean Dresser and Steven Lopez. Using a range of media, these artists have shared memories and explored Franklin’s life, music and impact as a woman, matriarch, activist, and die-hard Detroiter.
Artis Lane’s rare rendering was culled from a series of drawings she executed for Franklin’s 1985 “come-back” album, Who’s Zoomin’ Who . Among other things, the show also includes a glass mosaic portrait by Detroit local, Lorna Colin Braxton and Hurricane Aretha, a video poem performed and produced by Sims, which compares Franklin to a force of nature. Poets Kim Hunter and Mahogany Jones performed at the September opening, with remarks shared by Marsha Music. The gallery also launched ArethaSuperNatural.com – a permanent home on the web for Aretha fan art from all over the world. Artists
everywhere are invited to submit their work to the site.
Throughout the Fall, the Irwin Gallery welcomed art-enthusiasts, Aretha-lovers, students, and tourist groups to the exhibit, while continuing work on the building. “While we would have preferred the gallery to be more complete before opening, it felt critical to carve out a place to honor Aretha in her community,” states Omo Misha. “It has been heartening, for us, to welcome company as we approach the end of a long and hard-fought rehab process.” The gallery and exhibition opening was covered by The Detroit News and the Metro Times, gaining the cover of its Fall Arts issue.
The closing of SuperNatural Woman on Saturday, January 19, 2019 will be marked with a ‘60s style house-party fête in honor of Aretha, the music of Detroit, and the pride and beauty of the era that delivered so much iconic soul and style to the world. Native Detroiter and co-host, John Sims, will be in-house from Sarasota. The soundtrack for the night will be curated by cultural activist, Drake Phifer. And, guests are encouraged to don their funkiest ‘60s, Aretha-inspired attire.
The ‘60s Themed Closing Reception takes place at The Irwin House Global Art Center & Gallery on Saturday, January 19, 2019 from 8:00-11:00 pm. There is NO COVER but a suggested $10 donation helps to support the not-for-profit gallery and its programs. Guests wishing to preview the exhibition may arrive between 5:00-8:00 pm for personal or self-guided tours.
Irwin House Gallery & Global Art Center, 2351 West Grand Blvd. Detroit, MI 48208 | RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org or via Facebook | 313.932.7690 | http://irwinhousegallery.org | IG: @irwinhousegallery