After 3-year hiatus, Dlectricity returns in September

Qline work kept Dlectricity away last year, but Detroit’s festival of light and art returns in September with 35 artists

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

Did you wonder where Dlectricity went last year, and whether it would come back?

Not to worry — Detroit’s nighttime festival of light and art will return to its Midtown home Sept. 22-23.

This year’s illuminations and performances by 35 artists will range from huge, inflatable, glowing rabbits to a musical LED project that reacts to the dancers in front of it.

Dlectricity launched in 2012 and returned in 2014, with plans to be a biennial event. Last year’s Qline construction, however, scotched any notion of a public festival focused on Woodward Avenue.

This year’s featured artist will be Brooklyn’s Rashaad Newsome, a rising star whose 2016 solo show at Harlem’s Studio Museum got reviewed by the New York Times.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am about being part of this,” Newsome said at a Dlectricity press conference Tuesday at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. “What you’re all doing here is just so cool.”

The multimedia artist originally from New Orleans will stage two performances — “Shade Composition,” which involves an African-American cast of local women, and a Mardi Gras-style “King of Arms” procession Sept. 22 that will circle the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“Every parade needs a float,” Newsome said, noting that in New York performance he used a Lamborghini. “But here,” he said with a smile, “I’m using a Ford F150, completely wrapped and tricked out.”

Also making a return will be the much-beloved “Night Bike Parade,” with tarted-up bicycles and riders creating a moving tableau of light, as well as a “Woodward Light Cruise” by the Wire-Car Auto Workers Association of Detroit.

Artists hail from as far away as Japan and the United Kingdom. Among the 15 Detroiters represented will be Cooper Holoweski, Carrie Morris, Gary Schwartz, Aaron Jones and Wesley Taylor.

Sponsored by DTE Energy and a range of foundations, from Kresge to Knight, Dlectricity 2017 will occupy a smaller area than in previous years, when it stretched over half a mile from the Wayne State Welcome Center down to Orchestra Hall.

“We’ve tightened up the footprint to make a more walkable experience for the public,” said Marc Schwartz, who heads the committee that organizes the event.

Dlectricity 2014 drew 150,000 people, and Schwartz said this year they’re hoping they could hit 200,000.

If they do, parking is likely to be a major pain. Happily, the Qline will be running, so one could stash the car downtown and ride the streetcar up Woodward.

Alternately, for those after a more private experience, the ride-share firm Lyft will offer a 25-percent discount to anyone headed to Dlectricity.

(313) 222-6021

Twitter: @ mhodgesartguy

Dlectricity 2017

Sept. 22-23

Midtown Detroit

along Woodward Avenue

7 p.m.-midnight