Empowering Detroit’s Graffiti/Calligraphic Art Movement

Feb 28, 2018

Awesome Graffiti Art abounds in Detroit, Michigan
Credit Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent, Tom Wilmer reports from Detroit, Michigan for an exploration of street murals and graffiti/calligraphic art.

Tom visits with Matthew Eaton, co-owner of Library Street Collective Gallery, and Derek Weaver, founder of Detroit’s Grand River Creative Corridor and the 4731 Gallery.

Matthew Eaton and co-owner Anthony Curis, showcase cutting edge artists from around the world in their Library Street Collective Gallery in downtown Detroit. The duo are also passionate advocates for public art, starting in the alleyway directly behind their gallery.

What was once a gritty, dingy alley, where the highlight was dumpsters and trash, has been transformed in to an inviting outdoor walkway of mural art installations.

And on the far side of the alley, dubbed "The Belt" in homage to its past as the heart of Detroit's garment district, there is a multi-story parking garage that’s now graced with mammoth murals by internationally known artists on each floor level, with more installations in the planning stages.  

Matthew Eaton shares his passion and insights in to the worldwide phenomenon of urban street art also known as graffiti art.

Detroit Grafitti art along the Dequindre Cut--a below-grade pathway, formerly a Grand Trunk Western Railroad line, located on the east side of Detroit, Michigan
Credit Thomas Wilmer

Eaton traces the unbroken lineage of street painters to their ancient ancestors, the prehistoric cave painters.

Grand River Creative Corridor was the brainchild of local real estate investor Derek Weaver who saw opportunity in one of Detroit’s most blighted neighborhoods.

Grafitti art along Detroit's Creative Corridor
Credit Thomas Wilmer

This is the neighborhood that’s ground zero for national media whenever they want to show footage of blighted, abandoned houses surrounded by empty fields where a thriving neighborhood once stood.

Weaver purchased an abandoned four story commercial building and has transformed it in to the ground floor combination art gallery and performance center for music, poetry readings and more, and dubbed it the 4731 Gallery.

Upstairs there are 31 studio spaces for artists and non-artists alike, all seeking affordable start-up workspaces.

But Weaver also sought out graffiti artists to adorn his exterior walls with stunning murals and graffiti art. 

This is how Weaver came to loggerheads, and an eight thousand dollar fine, from the city of Detroit for creating urban blight…intervention by the mayor sorted things out.

Weaver has convinced neighboring building owners to also invite illegal street artists to paint legally on their buildings.

Today the Grand River Creative Corridor touts more than 100 murals. As a parochial school marching band practiced on the tarmac across the street, I met up with Derek Weaver out front of his 4731 Gallery.

Detroit Creative Corridor graffiti art
Credit Tom Wilmer

* This show was originally published in 2016, but due to many requests we are re-airing the show.

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