Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Island beautiful: art on Detroit's Belle Isle

(originally published 6/21/11 in KnightBlog)

Belle Isle is spectacular. The Detroit island park is home to dense woods, weeping willow-lined lakes, vast fields, dramatic views of the skyline and passing freighters, and some truly inspired architecture. The contemplative tranquility of its natural and man-made beauty also makes it a perfect place to encounter art, as the folks at Access Arts Detroit know. They’ve hosted outdoor art exhibitions on the island for the past four summers. The fifth just opened last Saturday and will only be on view until June 24. I urge you to print a map, head to the island for a few hours, and go looking for art. You’ll find some remarkable work, and, along the way, you’ll have the singular pleasure of spending time on Belle Isle, a place metro-Detroiters are lucky to call our own.

It’s an ambitious show, featuring work by more than 15 artists and stretching from one end of the 1.5 square mile island to the other. A few pieces are well off the beaten path. (Map in hand, I felt like an explorer hunting for treasure as I worked my way around the island.) I recommend seeing it by bike if you can (Belle Isle's streets are some of the few in the city with bike lanes), but a car will work and walking will, too, if you have plenty of time to spare. 

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