Russell decided to stay in Detroit, in part, because he felt a certain energy there, and in part because it is so affordable. After living for a few years in Brooklyn, he knew how ridiculously expensive living the New York City artists’ life had become.
As always, Russell has a pretty good set of antenna for a developing trend. A few days ago the New York Times carried an article about how NYC artists are moving to Detroit for the same reasons Russell has long articulated. Why not? Detroit is a cosmopolitan city. There is still a lot of art-buying wealth there, as well as space galore and buildings available at prices that New York City artists couldn’t even conceive.
There’s a certain vibe to Detroit, too. The article linked above refers to “ruin porn” — an apt phrase that captures the kind of slack-jawed wonder at the decaying cityscapes that we have noticed in our visits there and reported from time to time on this blog. The dereliction not only makes you ponder how a great city fell so far, but also what can be done to raise it back up again. Part of the allure of Detroit for young artists and other risk-takers is the chance to be part of what could be a great story of urban renaissance. For an artist, that sense of frontier-like opportunity not only is bound to stoke the creative fires, but it also gives the city’s art scene a certain cachet that may well attract attention — and art sales.
I’m rooting for Detroit.