Murals as cultural expression
Most journalists, when explicating Detroit gloom, forget to mention the Detroit Institute of Art and its massive and magnificent Rivera Court frescoes – 27 Diego Rivera murals in all – or that Diego and his petulant wife, Frida Khalo, lived in Detroit for 11 months as the art- work progressed. In 2015, the Art Institute presented an exhibition titled “Diego and Frida in Detroit” and described the two as an explosive couple. The museum PR writer said he (Diego) carried a pistol and she, a flask. The text also said that Diego romanticized Detroit while Frida rejected it.
Another positive aspect is that Detroit’s downtown comprises a vast collection of Art Deco architecture, which adds to your reasons to visit, along with, of course, the nearby Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village and Rouge Factory in neighboring Dearborn. However, on your way to Detroit, stop in Toledo to see its excellent collection of civic murals, including the Old South End murals shown here.
Find Toledo’s Old South End neighborhood murals by setting your GPS for Broadway Street and Crittendon Avenue, an intersection that lies adjacent to an I-75 overpass just south of downtown. Arriving from downtown, the first mural emerges on a wall beneath the overpass and, unfortunately, it’s difficult to view because of traffic and shadows. This one displays portraits of Emiliano Zapata, Cesar Chavez, Frida Khalo and Toledo community leaders Aurora Gonzalez and Sophia Quintero, plus a representation of a migrant worker family and a United Farm Workers flag. Next, a visitor emerges from the underpass to see a bright collection of building fronts and sides decorated by local, visiting and student artists under leadership and economic assistance from Bowling Green State University, (BGSU), Toledo’s Quintero Center, la Galleria and other organizations. In all, some 30 artists designed and painted the murals, including those from the Organization of Latino Artists.
The muralists applied Nova Acrylic paint overcoated with varnish. For more information on Toledo murals, contact the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo via theartscommission.org.
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