Irwin House Global Art Center and Gallery takes a local approach… | Model D Media

Irwin House Global Art Center and Gallery takes a local approach to fostering arts and culture

Detroiter Valerie Irwin’s life has revolved around the arts. Her appreciation began in middle school, when she started drawing and continued into adulthood when she became an elementary school teacher. After she met her husband, Council Irwin Jr., they began collecting art together.

Irwin and her late husband, who was a social entrepreneur and owner of Irwin Travel Agency in Detroit, collected art from around the world and advocated for working artists. Together, they lived a globe-trotting life, boarding international flights and meeting with foreign dignitaries eager to boost their countries’ tourism economy. On her first visit to Africa, Irwin was struck by the art from “the homeland,” she recalls.

These experiences culminated in the opening of the Irwin House Global Art Center and Gallery in September 2018 on West Grand Boulevard, just a mile down the street from the Motown Museum. It was a project years in the making, with the vision to find a home for the couple’s art collection.


Photos: Nick Hagen for Model D Media

THANK YOU Facebook Friends!

We just wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to our Facebook campaign. It was a short, post-holiday campaign and, we had ZERO expectations so we were deeply appreciative of every penny that you donated to our cause.

That was our first real fundraising effort and, certainly, there will have to be more….But, for now, we would simply like to extend thanks for your confidence in our work!

Stay tuned as we prepare our space for Spring programming!


DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY Closing Reception 1/18

Happy 2020 and thank you #Detroit for your continued support! Please join us for a closing Open House event for the DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY on Saturday, January 18th from 4-8pm.

DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY explores those distinct moments, memories and imaginings that define our great city. If you haven’t visited, please come check us out before the show closes. If you’ve been here or been part of of some of the recent programming – including the opening reception, artist talk with Darin Darby and Delores Slowinski, M.L. Liebler’s PoetryMusicArt Jam, John Sims Detroit Art Residency and the Sorrento Project, VidaAfroLatina’s film screening or Dancing by Day with Detroit Diaspora – we THANK YOU and invite you back for a closer look and an intimate afternoon with the artists. We’ll be here all day with Serengeti artisan teas and cocktails, powerful Detroit art (much of it for sale!), and more…

Featured 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).

– Lastly, our FB Fundraiser is still on-going. Please help us to reach (or at least approach) our goal. Click HERE to learn more or donate!

<< Featured Image: “Detroitism” by Jon DeBoer from the DFH Exhibit >>

We look forward to celebrating with you on 1/18!

Happy 2020 & THANK YOU for making our first year extraordinary!

2019 was an awesome year of firsts, which started with our beloved Aretha and ends with the DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY Exhibit. Thank you to all who’ve been with us on this journey: Artists, enthusiasts, visitors, collaborators, neighbors, tourists, supporters, family members, construction workers, and the media (special shout out to the Detroit Metro Times!). See you for more rich programming throughout 2020!

We are a not-for-profit 501(c) 3. Your donations are welcome!
Thank You for your support.


Detroit Image Drive

Extended thru  the end of January , 2020, The Irwin House Gallery will be accepting YOUR Detroit images for permanent installation at our space, as an artistic record of real Detroit people, our meaningful moments, and the people, places, and experiences that shape us.  Here’s what you do:

– PLEASE SUBMIT 1-3 of your favorite images via FB Messenger or email to:

– If you’re visiting the gallery, you can also drop-off hi-quality photocopies OR bring your original images for scanning on-site. Hours are Thurs-Sun from 12-6 pm.

Your image/s can reflect the past or present, yourself, family members, friends, places, distinctly Detroit objects, icons, or heroes… There are no wrong answers as long as the images are clear, G-rated, and share some insight into YOUR Detroit.

Thank you for being a part of our space, and helping us create this document of everyday Detroit greatness!

Don’t forget the block by John Sims | Detroit Metro Times

As his residency comes to a close, Irwin House Artist-in-Residence, John Sims reflects on his time in Detroit in this heartfelt Metro Times piece with a message for us all….

Don’t forget the block

What I learned returning to my childhood
neighborhood for an artist residence

By John Sims


“As we move through the holiday season into the new year, there is much to enjoy and think about: family, friends and fellowship. This is the time to share stories, laughter, food, gifts, and to entertain the children and indulge the elders, visit loved ones, and remember the ones who have passed. And in a place like Detroit, a place in transition, where rebirth meets decay, there is an open invitation to reflect on both the past and future of stories of all sorts, connections of all kinds, and physical spaces that have anchored our memories to a sense of community and neighborly togetherness….”


Sims Detroit Residency: Closing Reception & Presentation

In early November 2019, the Irwin Gallery welcomed Detroit native, conceptual artist, writer and producer, John Sims, as its inaugural Artist-In-Residence. While working and residing on site, Sims has been developing a three-part multimedia project based on his childhood block on Detroit’s West Side. Entitled Sorrento: Portrait of a Detroit Block, the project is Sims’ deeply personal response to the decay and desolation of his home street – a reflection of many Detroit neighborhoods, and a microcosm of urban communities decimated by systemic abandonment and neglect throughout the country.

On Sunday, December 8, 2019, the gallery will host a farewell reception for SIms, who will be returning to Sarasota, FL, in the following days. The event gives the public an opportunity to meet the artist, socialize, take in the DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY exhibit, and see the work Sims has been creating on behalf of his Sorrento project.

Sorrento: Portrait of a Detroit Block  Presentation | Sunday, December 8, 2019, 4:00 – 6:00 pm. RSVP: or

Artist John Sims looks at his childhood neighborhood…by Lee DeVito | Detroit Metro Times

Artist John Sims looks at his childhood neighborhood in ‘Sorrento: Portrait of a Detroit Block’

Last year, Detroit’s Irwin House Global Art Center & Gallery opened its doors earlier than originally planned following the death of Aretha Franklin, who grew up nearby, in order to mount an exhibition dedicated to her life. Artist John Sims, a curator for that first show, is wrapping up a stint as the gallery’s first artist-in-residence, which is also inspired by the neighborhood he grew up in — in this case, Sims’ west side neighborhood at Sorrento Avenue and West Chicago Street.

RELATED John Sims, a regular Renaissance man, returns to Detroit for lecture

The three-part multimedia project, which is described as “Sims’ deeply personal response to the decay and desolation of his home street,” includes a visually enhanced “VideoPoem” (the poem is included in M.L. Liebler’s Respect, also featured in this week’s issue), a print installation that mimics the experience of walking down the block, and a book.

Closing reception from 4-6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8; Irwin House Gallery; 2351 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit; 313-932-7690; Admission is free. On view through Jan. 5.

Posted By   | Sun, Dec 1, 2019 at 9:46 am
Read the original article HERE

A Detroit Diaspora Day Party Thanksgiving Weekend…

Saturday, November 30, 2019 – Thanksgiving Weekend – The Irwin House Gallery was thrilled to welcome Detroit Diaspora for a day-party welcoming “natives, ex-pats, transplants, and those dispersed souls from the D as well as those visiting, and those who feel an undeniable, almost spiritual, desire to represent the D world wide.”

The evening featured sets from Detroit’s own Drake Phifer, Detroit via Brooklyn’s Marilyn Griffin, and Chi-town’s Duane E Powell as well as a special performance from Detroit via Chicago’s own @Angel-A. Food was provided by Kaleidoscope Catering.

Set against the backdrop of the DETROIT FUTURE HISTORY Exhibit – which highlights the city’s people, places, imaginings, and memories – Dancing By Day was a celebration of all Detroiters, and especially those of us who carry Detroit in our hearts around the globe and return home, faithfully, this time every year.

Happy Holiday Season from The Irwin House Gallery!

(Pictured above: Chicago Guest DJ, Duane E. Powell)

Below event photos courtesy of Drake Phifer

VidaAfrolatina Film Screening & Discussion

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2019 | 5 PM — Yes, we know it’s Noel Night; All the more reason to add this event to your festivities! As part of its BLACK WOMEN IN LATIN AMERICA film series, VidaAfrolatina is presenting a film screening of Antonia – a moving story of four young women in Brazil, blessed with talent and striving to remake their turbulent lives. Following the screening, students from Rio de Janeiro — Jéssica Menezes, Gabriel Ferreira and Nathalia Costa — will lead a discussion about the film and parallels between the lives of African Americans and Afro-Brazilians.

VidaAfrolatina is hosting BLACK WOMEN IN LATIN AMERICA film events tocelebrate the resilience, genius, beauty and power of women African descent, and to connect the African Diaspora in Detroit and in Latin America. VidaAfrolatina is an international women’s fund based in Detroit that supports Black women’s organizations in Latin America.

Panelists: Jéssica Menezes, Gabriel Ferreira and Nathalia Costa in discussion