Roosevelt Park in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit is part of the Roosevelt Park Revival, an effort aimed at improving both the park and its immediate environs, all fronting the Michigan Central Station, which is both one of the city’s most distinct architectural landmarks and one of its most prominent ruins.
These photos are from last November, when the park hosted a reproduction of Syria by the Sea by Frederic Edwin Church as part of Inside/Out, an outreach program that brings art from the permanent collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts to area communities.
What’s interesting about Inside/Out isn’t just finding art in unusual places, but also the fact that the specific works have been selected to suggest relationships between the sites and the DIA’s permanent collection. In this case, the majestic ruins in the painting echo the long-abandoned station, and even the sunlight I captured is similar.
The park itself is an interesting case of what might be called grassroots urban planning. The revitalization is happening in stages as funding and volunteers become available, and the plan calls for an eventual amphitheater, skate park, and a play area for kids. The completed “reflective garden” makes smart use of rusty edging around regularly planted grasses for a bit of Rust Belt-style high design. It’s clean without being overly slick, and the “tailored prairie” looks wholly appropriate in front of the massive Beaux-Arts structure.
Details of the 2011 Inside/Out program are here, and tons of photos of the current and past installations are here. Also check out the recent Free Press article “DIA’s Inside/Out Program Brings Fine Art to the Masses.”