A Local’s Guide to Detroit with Gallery Co-Founder Anthony Curis
You've heard the news: Detroit is making a comeback. Thanks to an emerging art scene, hip new boutique hotels, and a growing roster of great restaurants and bars, in-the-know travelers are putting Motor City back on the #Jetsettering map. But knowing where to go isn't so easy. To find out, we turned to Anthony Curis, co-founder of the must-visit art space the Library Street Collective with his wife JJ. Here, he shares their top hometown picks.
An avid Italophile, Laura is always on the hunt for the next great travel trends, luxury hotels, best places to eat and drink, and hidden gems. Her writing has appeared in dozens of publications. She also co-wrote "New York: Hidden Bars and Restaurants," an award-winning guide to the city's speakeasy scene.
Eat At Flowers of Vietnam
“I’m a huge fan of chef George Azar’s Flowers of Vietnam. Located on Vernor in Southwest Detroit (a neighborhood mostly known for its vast selection of authentic Mexican restaurants), Flowers sits within a former Coney Island diner. I highly recommend the Korean-fried Caramel Chicken Wings or the mango and papaya salad.”
“On the far east side of Detroit and bordering Grosse Pointe, the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood was given National Treasure status by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The walkable district includes a surprising collection of architecturally significant buildings from the 1920s including the Vanity Ballroom, an Art Deco masterpiece designed by Charles Agree that once hosted music acts like the Velvet Underground, Duke Ellington, and the Stooges. Detroit River Sports offers kayak tours through the canals in Jefferson-Chalmers that connect a handful of the neighborhood streets to the Detroit River.”
Take in the Public Art
“Public art has always been an integral part of Detroit’s cultural identity. From the historic public murals commissioned in the early 1970s (many of which are sadly no longer intact) to Diego Rivera’s iconic Detroit Industry Murals inside the Detroit Institute of Arts, public art touches nearly every neighborhood with a heavy concentration in areas like Downtown, Eastern Market, and Hamtramck."
Explore the MBAD African Bead Museum
“Olayami Dabls started the MBAD African Bead Museum over twenty years ago and created a cultural compound at the corner of Grand River and West Grand Boulevard on the city’s west side. Inside, you’ll find everything from a vast collection of African beads to textiles, artifacts, and sculpture celebrating African culture."
Stay at the Siren Hotel
“We were pretty excited when we first heard about the plans for the Siren Hotel opening in Downtown, our neighborhood. After an extensive historic restoration of the Wurlitzer Building (originally founded as a showroom for the Wurlitzer music business), ASH NYC transformed this formerly vacant gem on Broadway Street into a boutique hotel with over 100 guest rooms. The Renaissance Revival-style building has been threatened by the wrecking ball numerous times over the past few decades so it was great to see another piece of Detroit’s architectural legacy saved.”
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Walk The Belt
"There are a number of public works all within walking distance in downtown Detroit including large-scale murals by contemporary talents Charles McGee, Shepard Fairey, How & Nosm and Beverly Fishman. Here, a vibrant alley known as The Belt features dozens of sculptures and installations from artists like Nina Chanel Abney, Carlos Rolón, and Tiff Massey. You can walk (or drive) through the Z parking garage, where there are murals by 27 international artists spread out over every floor. Less than a block away, you’ll also find Wayfinding, a public art installation and skate park by legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk and visual artist Ryan McGinness."
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