Detroit Art Week Billboards to Splash Local Artwork Around City

A collaboration between SaveArt Space and Playground Detroit is giving art big visibility on billboards during Detroit Art Week, July 16-21, 2019 – and beyond.

Two billboards depicting artwork

SaveArtSpace and Playground Detroit are partnering to cover the Detroit streets with more art. During Detroit Art Week – which falls July 16-21, 2019 – select artists will be displayed around the city on billboard space.

The idea for displaying artwork on billboards started in the summer of 2015 in Brooklyn. Co-founded by artists Travis Rix and Justin Aversano, SaveArtSpace noticed that along with the redevelopment of Brooklyn also came more advertisers. The advertisers covered the murals that made the neighborhood unique.

Refusing to let the history and creativity be wiped out from the art district of Brooklyn, the artists knew they had to “save space for art.” They chose billboards to display the art because “there are no walls” or restrictions. Anyone is free to experience the public art.

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Our version is curated by Detroit multimedia and installation artist Ellen Rutt. “I feel like it’s my responsibility as an artist to uplift artists who aren’t getting attention and deserve it – or people who have less visibility than I do,” Rutt says.

Here’s a look at the timeline for the billboard artwork:

  • An open call for art invites all backgrounds, skill level, ages and artwork. Submissions are welcome through May 28, 2019.
  • The artists will be announced the week of June 10, and the billboards will start going up July 8.
  • An opening reception will showcase the original artwork in its original form at Playground Detroit from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17.
  • The artists will have their artwork displayed July 16-21 during Detroit Art Week.

The billboards will be placed in walking distance, so after the July 17 reception, guests can follow the map of artwork around the city.

“Art shows that spaces are cared for,” Rutt adds.

Her team is dedicated to representing a wide range of media too. “I am looking for people who are saying things that are important and relevant to this time,” Rutt says. “I am looking for people who are taking creative risks.”

Artists can submit their artwork for consideration on the SaveArtSpace website. There is a $10 donation with each photo submission. All donations go towards producing art for the public.

SaveArtSpace will continue to display art on billboards throughout the year. Every three to four months, artists can expect another open call for art. The billboard opportunities also will open to other cities in Michigan, too.

The goal is to have the billboards around the area where the artists live.

“I’ve seen people stop and just stare at our billboards,” Rix says. “We’ve had people walk up to us, unknowing that we put it there, saying, “Have you seen the artworks in this area?'”

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