Henry Ford Health System plans arts destination in Detroit

Breana Noble
Associated Press
1411 Holden in Detroit. Henry Ford Health System plans to revitalize the building near Henry Ford Hospital

Detroit – Henry Ford Health System plans to turn a vacant commercial building near the Henry Ford Hospital into an arts destination.

The Detroit-based health system will revitalize the building — a former liquor store most recently used as a medical marijuana dispensary at 1411 Holden in the Northwest Goldberg neighborhood — with help from a $200,000 grant from the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation. A kick-off event is expected in mid-May.

“Henry Ford recognizes that health doesn’t happen only inside clinic doors,” said Erin Marie McDonald, senior grant coordinator in Henry Ford’s development office and the project’s co-lead. “Health happens where we work, where we play and where we pray. ... We believed that there was an opportunity to think about what that looks like just beyond our clinic doors in our community and to further engage with our neighborhood residents where we have been anchored in the community for so long.”

The project known as “ArtBlock” includes 3,700-square-feet of space and is the health system’s most significant investment in public arts and arts education, according to Mary Jane Vogt, a senior vice president at Henry Ford. It purchased the Holden Street building in February for $250,000, according to public records.

The goal, McDonald said, was to enhance the culture already present in the neighborhood peppered with art studios and programs.

“ArtBlock will bolster the neighborhood’s rich cultural legacy,” Virginia Romano, executive director of the West Bloomfield Township-based foundation, said in a news release

The building will offer youth and family programming through Green Living Science, an initiative of Detroit’s drop-off recycling center Recycle Here! It will include mural apprenticeships, workshops with local artists and perhaps yoga classes. The site also will have an education and community meeting space.

ArtBlock will feature five public art installations, including two murals on its exterior walls by local artists Fel3000ft and Michelle Tanguay. Across the street will be a woven textile installation from Amy Fisher Price and kitty-corner from the Henry Ford building will be rideable animal-shaped and pedal-powered metal sculptures made by Juan Martinez.

Inside, the building will be decorated by 10 select graffiti artists. The art installations will begin in May.

A rendering of the mural that local artist Fel3000ft plans to paint on the outside of ArtBlock.

“I think what we’re going to have is a much more interactive slice of that neighborhood,” said Roula David, chief operating officer of 1xRun, the Detroit-based arts publisher behind Murals in the Market that will curate the art installations. “It’s really fun that we get to expand the idea of what public art is. It’s an extra leg in really participating and selecting artists not only in downtown Detroit but in all of Detroit’s neighborhoods.”

The construction site of the Henry Ford Cancer Institute’s Brigette Harris Cancer Pavilion, a six-story facility due to open in 2020, is nearby. The neighborhood also is home to the Motown Museum and Tabernacle Church.

The Associated Press contributed.