Detroit’s Murals in the Market goes 3-D

Like a Detroit Stonehenge: "Seventeen Shitty Mountains."
Like a Detroit Stonehenge: "Seventeen Shitty Mountains." Scott Hocking

Big things are in store for this year's edition of Murals in the Market, the Eastern Market street art festival thrown by print shop and art gallery 1xRun, now in its fourth year.

It's a good year to switch things up. Last month, Smithsonian magazine ranked it as one of the top five murals festivals in the world. This year, the fest is a big part of Detroit Month of Design, a group of separate arts events now formally united under a common banner to celebrate the City of Design designation Detroit earned from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 2015. And this year's fest is also the first since 1xRun has relocated its headquarters from Eastern Market, where it had been since 2013, to a new location near the Heidelberg Project — expanding the footprint of the festival somewhat.

Festival organizer Jesse Corey says this year's festival has two major changes in store. For one, there's more of an emphasis on local artists rather than bringing in big-name national or international ones.

"We've leaned really heavily on the local community," he says. "Our local community is really aware and conscious and they're presenting ideas that are much more dynamic than what we had in the past."

An example: This year, the festival has a number of 3-D works, with sculptural installations by notable local artists Robert Sestok and Scott Hocking set to be unveiled.

Sestok will install a sculpture in front of Eastern Market's Shed 5. (On the other side of the shed, artist Carlos Nielbock will unveil a windmill made of upcycled materials that will be able to be used by Eastern Market visitors to charge their phones while they shop.) Meanwhile, Hocking has already been quietly at work arranging discarded sewer pipes behind the vacant (and graffiti-covered) former Water Board building at 3500 Riopelle St. into a massive Stonehenge-like installation dubbed "Seventeen Shitty Mountains." Like the murals, the sculptures will be "semi-permanent," and will be a part of Eastern Market landscape for the foreseeable future.

Of course, the festival is Murals in the Market, and it will still feature plenty of the wall murals it has become known for throughout the years. This year's roster includes names like Camilo Pardo, Bisco Smith, Ellen Rutt, Phil Simpson, Sheefy, Sabrina Nelson, Charles "Chazz" Miller, and Hygenic Dress League, among others.

The festival kicks off from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 12 with an artist's welcome barbecue at 1xRun's new headquarters at 2905 Beaufait St., Detroit. From 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, the festival has a grand opening with an exhibition at the Murals in the Market HQ at 1550 Winder St. Detroit, which includes a large-scale second-floor exhibition from tapestry artist Amy Fisher Price, an "interactive" exhibition from Chris Turner and Dave Krieger, a collaborative series by Michelle Tanguay and Pardo, and limited-edition prints for sale featuring participating artists' work.

The festival will host the Family Reunion Block Party from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15 on Division Street between Orleans and St. Aubin streets for a night of food trucks, art vendors, and music from DJ Jazzy Jeff; tickets are $20. There's also an artists' meet-and-greet from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at the High Dive, a new bar owned by Murals in the Market alumnus SharkToof, located at 11474 Joseph Campau St., Hamtramck.

A closing party will be held from 6 p.m. to midnight on Thursday, Sept. 20. at Murals in the Market HQ as part of Detroit Month of Design's Eastern Market After Dark. Guided walking tours of the festival are also available.

The festival, as part of the Detroit Month of Design, is a "celebration of Detroit's creativity," Corey says. "There is so much going on across the city that hits all different types of people that are interested in creativity, whether they're interested in architecture, or communication design, or illustrated arts."

Murals in the Market is from Sept. 13-22. The full schedule of events can be found at

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About The Author

Lee DeVito

Leyland “Lee” DeVito is the editor in chief of Detroit Metro Times since 2016. His writing has also been published in CREEM, VICE, In These Times, and New City. He once asked porn star Stormy Daniels to spank him with an issue of Metro Times. She obliged.

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