A Few Flix from the Exhibit

We had no official photographer in the house for the September 28th opening of the The DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY Exhibit, or the October 6th artist talk, but here are a few photos we’ve managed to round up from guests and cell phones. For the best views, come to see the show yourself through January 5, 2020!

More to come, I’m sure….

DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY Artist Talk with Darin Darby and Delores Slowinski

Saturday, October 6th, we held our first public program for the DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY Exhibit: An Artist talk with two of the featured artists from the exhibit, Darin Darby and Delores Slowinski. Both shared insights into their creative process and the meanings, inspiration, and Detroit connections within their work. Portrait photographer, Jeff Cancelosi, captured some thoughtful and expressive photos of the afternoon.
Detroit-born Darin Darby discusses his unique Laypuzzim® (layered puzzled image process). He creates this work by cutting textured card stock paper, mat board, or wood; each individual value in the art piece is hand-cut, layered, and puzzled together to create an image using negative space. Much of Darby’s current artwork is inspired by childhood events that took place in the city of Detroit. (Photo: Jeff Cancelosi)

Artist, Dolores Slowinski grew up in a white, Polish, Roman Catholic ghetto on the West Side of Detroit in the 1950s. Armed with Detroit census data, Slowinski uses needle and thread to dispel childhood myths and document the neighborhood’s changes in race and population over a 50 year period.  (Photo: Jeff Cancelosi)

DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY artists include Brian Nickson, Carolyn Thompson, Damon Chamblis, Darin Darby, Dolores Slowinski, James Charles, Morris, Jeni Wheeler, Jonathan Harris, Jon DeBoer, John Sims, Kathleen Rashid, Lance Johnson, Melissa Vize, Robert W. Clark III and Waleed Johnson with special contributions by Eric’s I’ve Been Framed, M.L. Liebler, and the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN).

New exhibition at Irwin House Gallery reflects on Detroit history…by Jerilyn Jordan | Detroit Metro Times

Thank you Detroit Metro Times for shining a light on our new, sophomore exhibition: DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY. The exhibition features twelve local artists, one New York-based artists, and introduces our Artist-in-Residence program with native Detroit artist and writer, John Sims. The Metro Times entry ran on September 25, 2019. You can view the full piece HERE.

New exhibition at Irwin House Gallery reflects on Detroit history — and what it means for the future


Staff Pick | Posted By  on Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 3:09 pm

Is Detroit a comeback city? Or does it take more than another Starbucks and a streetcar to bring a city back from the brink of destruction? While the global conversation toggles between these polarizing narratives, one thing remains true: all eyes are on Detroit.

But what does that mean for its future and the future of its people? Detroit Future History will display works from more than 15 artists, all of whom have additional perspectives of the city’s past, present, and, in some cases, projections of the future. Brian Nickson, Jon DeBoer, Kathleen Rashid, Melissa Vize, Damon Chamblis, Darin Darby, and Jeni Wheeler are among the featured artists, along with artist-in-residence John Sims, who will display an interactive oral-history inspired by his childhood neighborhood. Work will be on display through January 5.

Opening reception begins at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28 at Irwin House Gallery; 2351 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit; 313-932-7690; irwinhousegallery.org. Event is free.

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Featured image: Darin Darby, Route to My Past 


DETROIT: Who are we? Where have we been? Where are we going? These are some of the questions this exhibit seeks to answer through the lens of Detroit local artists.

What the city is and what it was are two very different things to most Detroit locals. Those who have lived the difference find themselves measuring the distance from there to here, recounting steps, and gazing off into an unfamiliar that may seem clouded for some and crystal clear for others.

With an eye towards what Detroit has been for so many of us – those distinct moments and qualities that define our city – and a vision for its future, the Irwin Gallery presents DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY – an exhibition that invites present, past and foreseeable imagery from local artists and documentarians. The exhibition additionally features the gallery’s first official Artist-in-Residence, conceptual artist and writer, John Sims, who will develop Sorrento: Portrait of a Detroit Block – a multi-media, interactive and oral-history project based on his West-side Detroit childhood street, neighbors, and memories. Sims will reside and work on-site during the exhibition, building and integrating segments of the project throughout his Residency.

Featured Artists include Brian Nickson, Damon Chamblis, Darin Darby, Dolores Slowinski, James Charles, Morris, Jeni Wheeler, Jon DeBoer, Kathleen Rashid, Lance Johnson, Melissa Vize, Robert W. Clark III and Waleed Johnson.

Darin Darby uses a distinct three-dimensional process to render connections between his childhood memories and his son’s present Detroit experiences; Kathleen Rashid employs clothing to capture dramatic neighborhood perspectives, Dolores Slowinski embroiders racial movement in her West-side community; Photographers Jon DeBoer and Melissa Vize crystallize Detroit urban-scapes in time while James Charles Morris celebrates the strength of Black Detroit, and; Waleed Johnson paints the fire of young city-dwellers. “While our space and resources do not allow us to capture the full breadth and complexity of Detroit with this exhibit, each artist brings a bit of their story, their eye, and their experience to the story,” says the Irwin Gallery’s Director, Omo Misha. “One thing that I’ve learned is that Detroiters are, and have always been, having wildly different relationships with the city.”

Exhibition programming will include a reading from the new anthology, Respect, and musical experience with ML Liebler and his Coyote Monk Poetry Vans; a screening and discussion of Pam Sporn’s Detroit 48202: Conversations Along A Postal Route; a discussion on Detroit urban agriculture and food justice with the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN), and; John Sims will stage public events in connection with his Sorrento project throughout his residency. Dates and additional programming TBA.

The Irwin House Gallery was founded by Valerie D. Irwin and her late husband, Council Irwin, Jr. to engage the community through the arts, support local talent, and invite the global art world to experience and contribute to the cultural wealth of Detroit. The gallery opened last year, amid construction, for the city’s first visual art exhibition celebrating The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. As part of the DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY Exhibition, the Irwin House unveils new developments, including the completion of its main floor gallery, the 2nd level of the building, and its Artist-In-Residency (AIR) program.

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 28, 2019 from 5:30 – 8:30pm. RSVP: irwinhousegallery@gmail.com or https://www.facebook.com/events/2376303815823478/.

Exhibition runs through January 5, 2020. Gallery hours are Thurs-Sun 12-6pm. Open by appointment other times. Irwin House Global Art Center & Gallery, 2351 W. Grand Blvd. (Between LaSalle & Linwood), Detroit, MI 48208. Ph: 313.932.7690 | http://irwinhousegallery.org | IG: @irwinhousegallery | FB: /irwinhousegallery

IMAGES FROM TOP TO BOTTOM:  John Sims Sorrento: Portrait of a Detroit Block, video still (multi-disciplinary project); Jon DeBoer DetroitismDolores Slowinski Detroit West Side Patterns, fiber on paper; Waleed Johnson Look Me In The Eye, oil on canvas; Kathleen Rashid Shirt (Views from the window) oil on fabric;  Darin Darby Route To My Past, mixed media on board. LEFT: Gallery Director, Misha McGlown, with artist Damon Chamblis and his featured Greyscale Self-Portrait.

























DETROIT: Who are we? Where have we been? Where are we going?

Opening September 20, 2019, DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY is a group exhibition featuring a collection of artworks, objects, and installations that paint a portrait of Detroit – from the past and present, into the foreseeable or imagined future. This may include any representations of Detroit memories, people, places, architecture and landscapes, lifestyles, events, or any things the artist finds to be distinctly Detroit.

John Sims, Interdisciplinary artist, writer and producer

The exhibition also encompasses an interactive oral history project with our first official Artist-In-Resident, John Sims – a Detroit native conceptual artist and writer who will be with us from Sarasota, Florida.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: Please submit up to 5 images to irwinhousegallery@gmail.com along with artwork info, bio, and brief artist statement (if you have one available) through August 17, 2019.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Thank you!


Who are we now? Where have we been? Where are we going?

With the City of Detroit holding tightly to one end and an auspicious developer grasping the other, the Packard Plant bridge started this year by laying itself to rest in the middle of East Grand Blvd. Despite robust re-imaginings for the fabled Packard campus, perhaps the bridge demonstrates that our affections are no match for constructs that have long outlived their utility. What we believe should and will be can, in an instant, become something else: Heroes become criminals; bustling temples of engagement become piles of rubble leveled to sprawling green acres; city-dwellers and suburbanites switch places, and; a wave of enterprise descends, envelops, intermingles, arouses, and reshapes the city. In the face of our attachments, expectations, and carefully drafted plans, for better and worse, the future of Detroit is writing itself.

What Detroit is and what it was are two very different things. Those of us who have lived the difference find ourselves measuring the distance from there to here, recounting steps, and gazing off into an unfamiliar that may seem clouded for some and crystal clear for others.

With an eye towards what Detroit has been for so many of us – those distinct moments and qualities that define our city – and a vision for its future, the Irwin Gallery presents DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY – an exhibition that invites present, past and foreseeable imagery from local artists and documentarians. The exhibition will also feature our first official Artist-in-Residence, conceptual artist and writer, John Sims, who will build an interactive and oral-history project based on his West-side Detroit childhood street, neighbors, and memories. Sims will reside and work on-site during the exhibition, and integrate developing segments of the project throughout his Residency.

September 20- December 20, 2019
Opening Reception: TBD

New Kiva Crowd-funding Loan: We Need Your Support!

If you’ve followed any of our posts, then you probably know that we received an interest-free Kiva loan which helped us to complete some of the work on the gallery, and which we’ve recently paid off. (Yaaaaaaaay!)

You may have even contributed to that loan. If so, we thank you!

Well, we’ve recently reapplied and been approved for a $10,000 loan and, in order to jump-start this process, we need 25 lenders to loan us just $25 each over the next couple of weeks – the sooner, the better, actually. This is not an easy task, so we really DO need your support.

This is called the “private fundraising” stage and once we’ve passed this stage, the loan opens up to the entire Kiva global community, and lenders from all over the world can contribute to the campaign. This part is pretty amazing and magical!

You can lend (or learn more) by visiting our loan page at: https://www.kiva.org/lend/1800061

You’re welcome to contribute more if you wish (smile!) and you DO get this money back – every cent of it!

This loan will help us to complete work on the 2nd floor of the building and serve as a fully-functional arts institution!

As always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We thank you in advance for being a part of this exciting process!

Irwin House Welcomes Award-winning Graphic Designer Scott Stewart

Starting Fall 2019, the Irwin House Gallery will roll-out an Artist-in-Residence program designed to welcome out-of-town and global artists to Detroit and invite them to contribute to and be a part of our local, creative landscape. This program begins as funding and our second-floor multi-use, residential space becomes available.

As we work toward these ends, we welcome award-winning Graphic Designer, Scott Stewart, to Detroit to explore our great city and share his branding and design expertise with local businesses and entrepreneurs while helping us pre-launch our A-I-R program.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Stewart’s design career has evolved in Washington DC and New York City, where he attended Pratt Institute. Some of his notable accounts have included FAA, PBS, BET, Mississippi State University (MSU), Adidas, and a host of small businesses and independent artists.

While assisting the Irwin House Gallery with its own developing needs, Stewart endeavors to provide branding and design services for Detroit area businesses and will begin this process via the gallery’s Residency Program – working with selected West Grand Boulevard Collective start-ups and established businesses to develop and enhance their branding while exploring the greater needs of Metro Detroit. If you are looking for great design, please know that he is also looking for you!


IMAGES (Top to bottom): BAMI Products web design by Scott Stewart/Moyo Design; Designer, Scott Stewart; BAMI product packaging design; Mama’s Pizza Kitchen logo/branding; REVEAL MedSpa logo/branding.

To view more of Stewart’s designs visit http://moyo9.com. Detroit area businesses, artists, and entrepreneurs, feel free to contact us to find out more!

Thank You Kiva Lenders!

On June 21, 2019 the Irwin House Gallery fully repaid its $4000 Kiva Loan! This loan was pieced together by sixty-one (61) personal friends, new acquaintances, and trusting supporters in $25 applications. Amazingly, the loan was fully funded within one week, Kiva disbursed the funds and we were able to begin putting those dollars to use immediately (yaaaaaaay!). Kiva is a magical little platform that demonstrates how much we can empower each other with very little. We have been able to witness and experience this, firsthand, and proudly pay it forward!

The loan helped us to complete our primary gallery space, including electrical and lighting, construction of walls and ceilings, exterior improvements, and more. With these developments, we actually opened the gallery and were able to host our inaugural exhibition – Aretha SuperNatural: Tribute to the Queen.  The work continues, but we have remained open  to serve the community and the West End Detroit neighborhood in the process. Sixty-one small votes of confidence helped to make this happen!

Thank you so much to Kiva for creating a space for global entrepreneurs to receive support and also help each other (while repaying our loan, we helped fund eight other Kiva campaigns!). We would also like to extend a special thanks to NYC Business Solutions – Harlem Center for endorsing this effort from New York to Detroit. And thank you lenders, far and wide, for believing in and contributing to our project. We encourage you to continue to visit the Kiva site and search for borrowers throughout the world  who need your support, and whose lives you can change with as little as $25!

In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of what our Kiva loan helped us to accomplish:

Thank you again! We look forward to keeping in touch!

The Irwin House Global Art Center & Gallery

WGBC and Henry Ford Health Systems Sign Agreement

Robinson on Historic Henry Ford Health Systems and the West Grand Boulevard Collaborative Community Benefits Agreement

Posted Friday, April 12, 2019 by:

DETROIT — Today, at the Irwin House Gallery, State Rep. Isaac Robinson (D-Detroit) joined West Grand Boulevard Collaborative (WGBC) President Mildred Robbins, former City Council Member JoAnn Watson, Sam Butler, Jeffery Jones and Adrienne D. Warren of Doing Development Differently in Metro Detroit (D4), and Attorneys John Philo and Tonya Phillips of the Sugar Law Center to sign a Letter of Understanding with Henry Ford Health Systems. The letter details a number of community benefits negotiated in connection to the construction of the new Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion in Detroit.

“I am pleased that this long negotiation has come to such a successful conclusion,” Robinson said. “History was made again for the second time. It shows how development can be done when neighborhood, business and government leaders sit at the table, respect each other, find common ground and work together. The unwavering and principled leadership of Mildred Robbins and her WGBC team, in partnership with Council Member Mary Sheffield, former Rep. Rose Mary C. Robinson, D4, the Sugar Law Center and representatives from Henry Ford Health System, has been invaluable and our community at large will benefit from this ongoing collaboration and teamwork. This historic private community benefit agreement with Henry Ford Health Systems and long-time residents is already putting more Detroiters to work.”

The West Grand Boulevard Community, founded in 2004, is comprised of 29 community organizations, institutions and businesses in the Northwest Goldberg, and West End Detroit communities. In 2014, the WGBC negotiated the first Letter of Understanding with Henry Ford Health Systems around their Cardinal Warehouse facility. With tremendous assistance from then State Representative Rose Mary C. Robinson (D-District 4), it was the first privately negotiated community benefits agreement in the City of Detroit at the time.

Today’s signing marks the second privately negotiated Letter of Understanding reached between the West Grand Boulevard Collaborative and Henry Ford Health System.  Some of the provisions put forth in the Letter of Understanding relate to supporting place-based workforce development activities for neighborhood residents, designating preferred routes for construction traffic during and environmental mitigation to remediate negative impacts on the neighborhood and its residents.

More than a gallery…

As we continue to work on the transformation of our space, we are envisioning that the Irwin House Gallery will grow up to be, not just a venue for art, but a hub for community growth and empowerment as well. We are proud to host many West Grand Boulevard Collective (WGBC) special meetings, and we invite local businesses – large and small – to consider our safe, creative space for your next meeting, gathering, or think tank.

We look forward to seeing you soon!