Travel Recap: Detroit, The Motor City
Back in February, Carolina (one of my besties) and I found out about an exhibit that highlighted Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's short time in Detroit and we knew we had to go. I first learned about Frida in a painting class, back in Oklahoma City. She's become sort of a "icon" for a lot of no b.s. individuals, folks who pave their own path, but she's also become over idolized. In the art world, she is everywhere, on tees, bags, stickers, posters. It's not my place to say this is bad or not, because I myself happen to own a few things with her image on it, but over time I feel like the world has forgotten who Frida is, who she really was. She's no longer an artist, but a marketing point. I get the feeling she'd really, really, REALLY hate that. I heard the exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum would be a little more raw, giving us a glimpse into her miscarriage, and the sadness that stuck with her for the rest of her life. Stories of her that we rarely ever hear about anymore.
We told a good friend of ours, Kevin, about our plans and the duo became a trio. A little background on my two friends: they were both born in Detroit and still have so much unconditional love for Detroit, the same love Detroit showed Diego. Regarding art and views and life, I myself love Frida more. I connect with her as an artist and as a woman. It would be a shame not to visit an exhibit dedicated to them in a city that changed them so much, so...we started planning.
Carolina, Kevin and I megabused to Detroit one cold April Saturday and arrived just in time to start the tour at the DIA. There were a quite a few Frida pieces on display, including one of my favorites, her "Self Portrait with Monkey." The exhibit detailing Frida's time in Detroit definitely ended on a sad note, despite her journey starting out positive. Her last few pieces in Detroit were extremely saddening. It's not unknown that Frida didn't enjoy Detroit so much. I, on the other hand, was just beginning to fall in love with Detroit. After going though the exhibit, I proceeded to spend half my savings (of course) in the gift shop. I love souvenirs, but I love Frida even more and the DIA seemed to understand. I was literally like, "Please, just take all my money."
We left the DIA with our hearts full, seeking food for our empty bellies. A good walk revealed a ton of fun places we wanted to try and we decided on some delicious pizza at Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery, and for dessert, we had pie at a little place called Dangerously Delicious Pies. It was located in the back of a bar, which was at first a little confusing, and hard to find, but we enjoyed the adventure. We really had to work for our dessert this time around. ;) Our next stop was the Z Lot, a massive, art filled parking lot, totaling 10 stories! Sadly, we were only able to explore the very top floor, as the sun had already started to set. We have definitely put it on the list of places to visit when we make another trip back to Detroit. Our night officially ended at the Airbnb, where I climbed into a bottom bunk (yes, BUNK BEDS!) and fell right to sleep.
The next day, we headed to a Big Boy for a big, and cheap, breakfast and then headed to Belle Isle. The Aquarium was beautiful! Now named the oldest continually operating public aquarium in the US (the title used to belong to one in D.C.), the Belle Isle Aquarium is run solely by volunteers and donations. The entire island itself was in bloom, and we just ran around everywhere, shooting and enjoying nature. I loved every minute of it.
One of our last stops was The Heidelberg Project. I love gigantic public art places that are forever there for the public to enjoy, like Philadelphia Magic Gardens and Salvation Mountain—they're also on my bucket list! I love artists who can create from everyday objects and mosaic them together to create art that can withstand mother nature. The Heidelberg Project is eerily beautiful, just like the rest of the city. I hope Detroit and the beautiful souls who live there continue to work and rebuild. I'm rooting for them and I'm sure so is the rest of the world. In about 24 hours, we saw so many amazing bewitching parts of the city, and that isn't even the tip of the iceberg. Ya'll, Detroit's ready for a comeback.