Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit gears up for spring season with film series on underground party subculture

Work by Charles McGee, Gilda Snowden also planned for exhibits opening in April

click to enlarge MOCAD. - Kevin Chang, Flickr Creative Commons
Kevin Chang, Flickr Creative Commons

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit will re-open for its spring season of art shows on Friday, April 8. One of the first exhibits waiting for visitors is a film series looking at Detroit’s underground art and party scene.

A Look At is a series of films by Stableheed, a Detroit-based multi-disciplinary artist collective that aims to highlight Detroiters who make creativity a full-time hustle. The first two films in the series, Cyphers and Parties, will run at the MOCAD from Friday, April 8 to Sunday, June 12.

If you aren’t familiar with Stableheed, they’re home to creatives like Jabriel & Nabeele Najjar, the brothers behind the popular hip-hop DJ night House Party Detroit. What started out as literally a house party has now transformed into regular events at Spot Lite, Deluxx Fluxx, and other venues.

The films include sit-down interviews with Detroit musicians, poets, and visual artists to give insight into their lifestyles and the city’s luxe creative underground. Influential poet and event producer Joel Fluent Greene is one prominent Detroit artist featured in the series.

Stablehead founder and curator Brian Oscar says he feels like sometimes Detroit’s art world is “too underground” and hidden, so he wants to give local artists more spotlight.

“Oftentimes, when I look at my creative peers, everything they do is all so low-key,” he says. “It’s good for us who are involved because it’s like an inside thing, but all of Detroit’s creatives deserve praise for the things they’re doing to push the city forward... They create space, they create experiences, and they create art. That’s what draws people to this city.”

Another exhibit debuting on the MOCAD's opening day is Ground Up: Reflections on Black Abstraction, a private collection of work by famed Detroit artists like Charles McGee, Shirley Woodson, and Gilda Snowden, among others.

“Participating artists make a conscious break from figurative traditional forms of making, diving deep into the realm of abstraction as a means of storytelling and cultural preservation,” a description of the exhibit reads.

Ground Up: Reflections on Black Abstraction will be on view until Aug.14.

Seems like the museum is steadily forging ahead after the firing of its former executive director in July 2020 over allegations of a toxic work environment.

After a lengthy search for new leadership, the MOCAD named Cara Courage, the former head of the Tate Exchange art space in London, as its new executive director in February of 2022. Former MOCAD director of business operations Marie Madison-Patton was also appointed as the museum's new deputy director.

We guess the museum's message to passersby on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit rings true: Everything is going to be alright.

More information and a full schedule of exhibitions can be found at

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About The Author

Randiah Camille Green

After living in Japan and traveling across Asia, Randiah Camille Green realized Detroit will always be home. And when she says Detroit, she's talking about the hood, not the suburbs. She has bylines in Planet Detroit News , Bridge Detroit , BLAC magazine, and Model D . Her favorite pastimes are meditating...
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