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Detroit Artists Market: The First 80 Years, Now on View at Detroit Historical Museum

Since its start, The Detroit Artists Market has played a critical role not only in fostering Detroit’s art scene, but also in challenging public perception of art with its history of controversial, trendsetting exhibitions. Marking the DAM’s eightieth anniversary this year, The Detroit Historical Museum is hosting the exhibition, “Detroit Artists Market: The First 80 Years.”

Paintings and drawings hung salon-style on the walls of the Museum’s Community Gallery show a chronological history of the Detroit Artists Market. In keeping with the true spirit of the DAM, the exhibition features work from all sorts in the visual field, from folk art to pieces by internationally-recognized, Detroit-based artists. After all, the Detroit Artists Market was created as an organization where younger, lesser known artists could display their work. And to this day, the DAM readily accepts works from artists of all backgrounds, be they classically trained or not.

In addition to the hanging work, informative panels and display cases full of ephemera—event flyers, newspaper articles, photographs of past exhibitions—depict the rich relationship the Artists Market has had with the Detroit community. Since its founding, the DAM has featured works by more than 3,300 artists and has been home to many innovative—and controversial—exhibitions. In 1952, The Detroit Artists Market organized “Abstract Art is Real,” a daring exhibition at the time, given that abstract art was still widely misunderstood and unappreciated by the general public. Following Detroit’s race riots in 1967, while the Civil Rights movement was unfolding throughout the country, the DAM hosted a groundbreaking exhibition, “Seven Black Artists.” The exhibition, curated by acclaimed artist Charles McGee, sparked a dialogue on the state of race relations, and gained attention nationwide.

Detroit Artists Market: The First 80 Years” features work from all eight decades of the DAM’s history. The exhibition, curated by Maureen Devine, runs through May 24 at The Detroit Historical Museum. The cost is free with museum admission; visit The Detroit Historical Society’s website for more information.