UPDATE: Crain’s is changing the title of this piece, which was originally, “How artists can be assets” – I deeply appreciate the decision by my editor to hear me out, because it really broke my heart to imagine artists all over the city reading it and thinking I do not see them as assets. Whether there is a good business case for artists or not, I think artists are a crucial part of society and I value them as humans and their work to the deepest extent imaginable. (I know why you do it. Never stop!)
Thank you to Crain’s for hearing me out. I grant them the point that it is my opinion that the city should better support the linchpin community members who have held Detroit in trust and intact for many years when business people wanted nothing to do with this place.
I remain proud of this article, and hope you enjoy!
“This is a tale of two skate parks,” said Gina Reichert, one half of the Power House Productions/Design 99 duo, along with her husband, Mitch Cope.
In an interview, Reichert outlined their ongoing struggle with their long-term community development project Ride It Sculpture Park, an open-to-all recreational playscape that has become a neighborhood gathering point since its first phase of production in 2012.
Reichert described Ride It as “an incremental, slow-build, community-based, made-to-last, permanent concrete rolling landscape, providing space for creative freedom of expression and fully embracing skate culture.” The park occupies eight properties owned by PHP in a no-mans’-land where the Davison freeway’s east end trails off into street traffic. In the midst of this stretch, Ride It has become a neighborhood gathering point since its first phase of production in 2012.
But now, as PHP attempts to execute further phases of the project, including new ramps, extended seating and featured art by Nari Ward, they are experiencing impediments and pushback from the city — even as the Bedrock-sponsored Wayfinding Skate Park is welcomed with open arms in the middle of downtown. Cope and Reichert are concerned with what they see as obstruction tactics on the part of the city, including short-notice requirements that they “register” every piece of art around the park, including works by practicing street artists who may also create unsanctioned works around the city, and are prime targets for the city’s controversial Graffiti Task Force.