The city of Detroit is gearing up for today’s kickoff of its inaugural Detroit Art Week. From July 20-22, 2018, visitors will be given the opportunity to explore galleries, enjoy museum tours, visit studios of local artists, and various special programs alongside the parties, music, nightlife, and culinary experiences that make summers in Detroit so exceptionally beautiful.
DAW is produced by Olu & Company. They are a powerhouse firm that provides marketing and business consulting services to individuals, companies, and organizations in the arts. Under the vision of Amani Olu, who we featured in “30 under 30-ish,” we had to figure out how he does it all. Lucky for us, we managed to grab a few minutes of his time.
Art Zealous: Hometown?
Amani Olu: Philadelphia, PA
AZ: Currently reading?
AO: The Story of English by Robert McCrum, Robert MacNeil, and William Cran.
AZ: Detroit is becoming a global destination for experiencing contemporary art and well on its way to becoming an “art capital,” what are some of your goals for Detroit Art Week?
AO: Our mission is to promote Detroit artists, galleries, and cultural institutions worldwide. In doing so, we aim to inspire local and visiting art practitioners and professionals, help stimulate the local art economy and small businesses, and show everyone a great time.
AZ: Talk to us about “Rhythm, Repetition, and Vocab,” which will feature work from Carole Harris and Allie McGhee.
AO:“Repetition, Rhythm, and Vocab” presents Detroit artists Carole Harris and Allie McGhee together in homage to the harmony of their improvisational languages and to the city in which they found their voices. Harris is a fiber artist whose process emulates that of a painter, often revising her earlier decisions and doubling back in a medium that traditionally progresses linearly. McGhee is a painter who frees his canvases from their flatness through the kinetic energy created by using them not only as support but almost as the subject. In diverging from tradition, these two Detroit veterans have converged on common ground.
AZ: What can visitors expect from the inaugural Detroit Art Week?
AO: The work of nearly 100 artists will be on view via 19 exhibitions, seven events, six studio visits and four site visits/open studios. Happenings will take place at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Flowers of Vietnam (named one of the best restaurants in America by GQ), the Heidelberg Project, PLAYGROUND DETROIT, Red Bull Arts Detroit, Stanley Kresge Estate, What Pipeline, and at the studios of Hamtramck Ceramck, Scott Hocking and Cristin Richard, and many others.
AZ: In terms of execution, what has been the toughest part about putting together DAW?
AO:Building trust in the Detroit art community.
AZ: You moved to Detroit a few years ago, what are some of your favorite spots in Detroit?
AO: Coffee: Red Hook in the West Village and Trinosophes in Eastern Market
Restaurants: Selden Standard, Standby, and Flowers of Vietnam
Galleries I regularly attend: David Klein Gallery, Library Street Collective, Simone DeSousa, REYES PROJECTS, What Pipeline, Wasserman Projects, Bahamas Biennial and PLAYGROUND DETROIT.
AZ: You’ve done so much in your career, you were managing editor of Whitewall, authored two books, curated over 40 exhibitions, and now Detroit Art Week. How do you handle it all? What’s next for you?
AO: I have always been a “busy body.” I like working and often jump into projects without fully thinking about the time commitment. I get excited and go for it. It is the best way to build experience and prove your concepts can work. That said, none of this would be possible without the strong team at Olu & Company (shout out to Aleiya Lindsey), which makes it possible for me to work on multiple projects simultaneously, like Detroit Art Week. In terms of what’s next for me, this fall I plan to launch IMG SRVR, a file management platform for creatives. Think Dropbox, but designed primarily for uploading, organizing, archiving, searching and sharing images visually. We are still in private beta mode. Interested parties can request access at imgsrvr.net and receive up to 5GB free.
AZ: What is your advice for young people wanting to get involved in the Detroit art scene?
AO: Do your thing but do so with the understanding that Detroit is not abandoned, people live, work and raise their families here (myself included), and that the city’s population is 85% black. In other words, come correct or expect to get checked.
AZ: How can we stay in touch?
AO: Websites:olucompany.com, detroitartweek.org, amaniolu.com, imgsrvr.net
IG: @detroitartweek, @amaniolu
Register here for Detroit Art Week.
top image // Amani Olu, courtesy of Kris Graves