The Red Children’s Art Museum, in Detroit’s North End, also known simply as The Red, is a space dedicated to displaying and archiving art by Detroit-area youth, and to teaching a new generation of artists, from free-play art ‘classes’ for children from infancy to school age, and studio spaces and even residencies for older art students.
And like most art museums, it has been closed for the summer. The website has a virtual tour, but it’s a shallow substitute for the very hands-on space.
So instead, founder Yvette Rock has been spending her summer bringing art to the children of Detroit in her own version of the Magic School Bus.
Live Coal Arts Mobile is an 18-foot-long trailer that Rock has transformed into a rolling art gallery. It isn’t new – Rock used it for pop-up exhibitions after her first gallery, Live Coal Arts Gallery, folded in 2015 and before she founded The Red in 2018. Putting art and youth together is the 44-year-old’s mission in life. “I was interested in finding ways to bridge the gap between younger, aspiring artists and established artists. I wanted to knock down some of the barriers that are put up in the art world,” said Rock, and then added with good humor: “If I don’t have a building, I’ll do it on wheels.”
In July, the Arts Mobile hosted “Detroit Popsies,” an exhibition of found-object sculptures including a half-sized bathroom made of discarded popsicle sticks, made by Rock’s daughters Cedar and Arise. In mid-August, she’s letting her sons Light and Temple take over. They plan to use legos to recreate photos submitted by visitors.
Rock hopes to reopen The Red later in the fall, Detroit’s pandemic management permitting. But whatever happens, she has this to say: “We are going to still make art. Let’s see where this goes in our journey together.”
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