Art X Detroit to spotlight virtual artwork and performance Wednesday

Michael H. Hodges
The Detroit News

Pandemic or no, Art X Detroit will spotlight virtual artwork and performance Wednesday of art, literature and performance in — you guessed it — a Zoom presentation. 

Art X Detroit has always been about showcasing the creative work of Kresge Artist Fellows, Gilda Award recipients and Kresge Eminent Artists. AXD 2020 is the successor to the original Art X Detroit festivals that ran from 2011-2015 in venues throughout Midtown.

On Wednesday, AXD will present the work of 22 creative artists, from abstract sculptor Robert Sestok to the delightfully unhinged dramatic work of The Hinterlands, all of whom created pieces focusing on the changing narrative and landscape of Detroit and its neighborhoods.

Bassist Rick Robinson's multidisciplinary "Phantom Detroit" will be part of this year's Art X Detroit virtual festival Wednesday.

This pandemic year, of course, presented unique challenges.

"When we first thought about how to pivot, given current circumstances," said Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of the Kresge Foundation's Detroit program, "it was a challenging exercise to sort through – how do you ensure that the power of the in-person performance comes through in a virtual format?"

So this year AXD has several parts. A Zoom presentation open to the public (registration required) will run Wednesday from 6:30-8 p.m., with hip-hop artist and musician Sacramento Knoxx, a reading by Marsha Music,  discussions with painter Senghor Reid and The Hinterlands, as well as a film trailer from Julia Yezbick.

At the same time, AXD will release an eight-episode "Living X" podcast hosted by Ryan Myers-Johnson, executive director of Sidewalk Detroit, that will include observations by artists and others who were part of AXD 2019.

"Freeways and Sidestreets" from The Hinterlands is one of the more playful parts of this year's Art X Detroit virtual festival.

Participating artists include, among others, playwright Shaun Nethercott, multidisciplinary artist Robert B. Jones Sr. and poet Natasha "T" Miller.

All episodes will be available for streaming on Simplecast, Apple, Google and Spotify. A limited-edition catalog of AXD will also be available in digital and print formats.

This year AXD was curated by Cézanne Charles from the arts consultancy and hybrid design studio rootoftwo.

"This catalog and the accompanying AXD podcast just got started as Michigan, most of the country and the rest of the world went into lockdown" because of the pandemic, Charles said. "This is a moment or reckoning, where community-based movements are working resolutely to demand and deliver progressive social transformation."

Also included in this year's Art X Detroit is "Freedom School" from the Detroit collective The Tetra.

Added Jackson, "Through AXD, the artists are bringing us closer together with an eye to how our neighborhoods are interconnected through arts and culture in Detroit."


6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19

Register for the Zoom event

(313) 815-6410

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy