This spring, New York is celebrating Detroit. The two cities, both with their backbones of industry and bustle, can be considered close cousins despite the several hundred miles between them. And in the heart of Chelsea, New York City’s artistic epicenter, the Rush Arts Gallery is making sure Detroit comes alive for New Yorkers.
The exhibition is called “The Detroit Grind” and it’s a group show by six emerging artists from the Motor City. The artists were chosen by Inner State Gallery art dealers Roula David and Jesse Cory, who have made efforts before to make sure that the world sees the creative power of their home city.
The title “Detroit Grind” comes from a mural that is the centerpiece of the show, painted by featured artist Sydney G. James. The painting, which is sited in the Eastern Market in Detroit, takes the form of the 1996 cover of Vibe Magazine.
The original cover featured rappers Suge Knight, Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg. In place of those musical celebs, James painted Rashaun Rucker, Tyllon J. Sawyer, Tiff Massey, and herself, all with the same forceful gazes. Those three artists are all in this exhibit with her, along with Nic Notion and Olayami Dabls, also Detroit natives.
Grind is my brand,” says James. “It’s an acronym for Girl Raised in Detroit. It’s a one-syllable word like Vibe, to make. We all grind as artists. We had to grind to get here.”
Like James, Sawyer and Notion are painters. Dabls and Massey work in textiles and jewelry. Rucker captures his city with photograph and pencil. All of them create art that reflects the Detroit of today, the politics and life and grind of the city and the country.
“Detroit Grind” will remain at the Rush Arts Gallery through May 19th. It is supported by the Rush Philanthropic Arts Organization, which furthers the artistic efforts of artists of color.