A deeply personal tribute to John Sims in the Detroit Metro Times

John Sims was a personal friend to the gallery, and one of our staunchest supporters. Like anything he believed in strongly, he fought for it fiercely. And, when John fought, the opponent was not likely to win. He was going to be bigger. He was going to be louder….He was probably going to be smarter (but that doesn’t mean he was always right). Either way, he was going to win. He was a good person to have in your corner and it felt good to be on the receiving end of his activism.

With that, Sims was also a frequent subject of Detroit Metro Times coverage. They understood the value in his voice and later, as Sims became an arts and culture writer for publications around the world – “Yeah, I’m doing that now, too,” he said, as though it were something he just woke up that day and decided to do – that included the Detroit Metro Times.

Metro dubbed John a Renaissance Man in 2017 and encouraged us to dance to Sims’ Pi-Day Anthem. In 2018 they covered our Aretha tribute exhibit, in which Sims co-curated, as well as his video-poem, Hurricane Aretha. In 2019, they twice looked at his Detroit background, including publishing Sims’ own summary of the residency project, Don’t Forget the Block. Over the next couple of years, Sims covered the Aretha movie, Greg Tate, Pi Day for the publication, so it was only befitting that MT allowed us to share this heartfelt tribute to John, the man, the towering figure who brought so much life and enlightenment to us all….


A memorial celebration of the immense and inspired life of John Sims will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023 at Irwin House Gallery; 2351 W. Grand Blvd. (between LaSalle & Linwood) Detroit; 313-932-7690. An interment ceremony will follow, at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023 at the historic Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery East, 4280 E. 13 Mile Rd.