DETROIT — It was a letter-perfect evening in Detroit for the opening last week of Robert Sestok’s long-anticipated sculpture park, City Sculpture. It seemed the weather was as eager as the hundreds of people who attended the festivities to support the longtime Detroit artist and contributor to the Cass Corridor art movement in the 1960s and 1970s. The conceptual basis of this movement was inspired by the sense of destruction, rebuilding, and resurrection — concepts so fundamental to Detroit’s spirit that it is part of the city motto: “Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus” (“We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes”). Sestok, who has lived in the rapidly gentrifying Cass Corridor neighborhood since he moved to the city in 1967, engaged in a long and arduous struggle with the city to purchase four vacant lots on the M-10 frontage road at 955 Alexandrine — a typical experience for most Detroiters trying to purchase lots today, while millionaire investors seem able to navigate the process with far more access and success. Sestok spent months agonizing over the logistics of moving more than a dozen of his welded-salvage sculptures — some of which weigh half a ton — from his nearby workshop onto a grid of cement bases in the newly manicured park. It was therefore gratifying to see Sestok relaxed and happy at the opening festivities, allowing himself a rare moment of pride in this Herculean task — executed, in signature Detroit style, largely by himself and with the support of a close-knit circle of volunteers.
I also just want to say, about the L-Train article, and the Times article that just ran about City Sculpture and other public art in Detroit…they really pissed me off. You have writers coming here for a couple days, trying to cover issues that it has taken me half a decade to even begin to unravel.
You care about supporting the arts in Detroit? SUPPORT DETROIT WRITERS. Places like the Times need to accept that they may not have the access they need to report intelligently about this place. Understand that there are different forces at work here, that a NYC understanding of the status quo does not apply. Realize that the stories that come the easiest to you as an outsider are not the truest.