Dr. Carleton Gholz (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

We’re sitting here on the 5th floor of WSU’s TechTown, a 5-story business incubator and co-working space in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood.

Right now, it’s a busy hive of activity and we’re sequestered in a quiet corner to discuss the exciting grand opening of Red Bull Arts Detroit Library.

I’m sitting here with the two brilliant, forward-thinking minds of Dr. Carleton Gholz and Gabe Chess.

Carleton is the main consultant on design and strategy for the Library. He is also an historian, journalist and founder of Detroit Sound Conservancy.

Gabe is a native North Carolinian, culture hacker with a taste for electronica & soccer, former Chicagoan and one of the main functionaries at Red Bull Arts Detroit.

Until more donations start rolling in, the Library is currently mostly comprised of a hybrid of Carleton’s personal Detroit book collection and from Detroit Sound Conservancy music library, many of which were gifted from the Frederick Gale Ruffner, Jr. Collection warehouse liquidation. Carleton is loaning his 1,500-book collection to the RBA Library for one year.

What is Red Bull Arts Detroit?

Red Bull Arts Detroit (photo courtesy of Red Bull)

New York City and Detroit are the only two Red Bull Arts exhibition spaces in North America. There’s also one in Sao Paolo, Brazil called The Station. Red Bull’s global HQ is in Austria and their North American HQ is in Santa Monica, California.

Opened in 2011, Red Bull Arts Detroit (1551 Winder Street) is a 14,000-square foot 2-story warehouse located in the Eastern Market district.

Red Bull, yes the energy drink company, pays 9 artists from all over the world a $12,000 stipend to live and work at the warehouse for 3 month intervals (ie: January-April, April-July, August-November).

The stipend allows the artists to focus on making art full-time while in Detroit. Being an artist is not easy and the money and dedicated time for free-flowing creativity are a blessing to struggling artists.

The basement of the warehouse is the old Eckhardt & Becker Brewery and is basically a cool subterranean brick-walled cavern. The brewery was here 1891-1969.

They are creating the reference Library as a platform for public engagement, which will be open to both resident artists and the general public.

 

A Lively Conversation with Carleton & Gabe

Gabe Chess & Dr. Carleton Gholz (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Carleton

“So, to kick things off for the Library, I’ll be doing a Reading Room talk on a book that is personally meaningful to me. It’s the 50-year, 10,000-square foot view of how I understand arts funding and how its drastically changed.”

“The book I will be talking about is the 1968 Detroit architecture classic, ‘The Buildings of Detroit’ by Hawkins Ferry, which was published by Wayne State University Press. There was a 2002 updated edition with a foreword by John Gallagher but I’ll be using the original.”

The book was my Grandfather’s copy and it even has the original Hudson’s receipt in it. He was a doctor, did his residency in Detroit in the 1940’s, lived on West Philadelphia Street and on Selden Street. My Dad was born in Detroit and worked as an architect.”

“The book I have is basically a family scrapbook, layered with article clippings, papers, notes, ephemera, etc., it’s my own little vertical file of supplemental material. It essentially comprises a parallel book of its own within the Hawkins Ferry Book.”

“The big question for me is, as a historian, how does one fully update this survey for a new age?

William Hawkins Ferry came from big money, the Ferry-Morse Seed Company, which was started by his grandfather, Dexter Ferry. Hawkins was born 1913 and died 1988. He was an architectural historian and DIA trustee who attended Yale and Harvard. He was a pre-WWII elite historic preservationist whose worldview did not include insights into the working class and the adaptive re-use of repurposed buildings in working class neighborhoods. He was a modernist who lived in a $2 million-dollar house on Lake Shore Drive in Grosse Pointe, a wealthy suburb of Detroit.”

In a world of scarce resources, funding for the arts is tough to come by. How would you know if Ferry’s book as a resource is definitive? I’m also very concerned about archives being accessible for non-Ivy League working class humans. To do this, archives would most likely need state funding of some sort.”

 

Reading Room: Dr. Carleton Gholz on “The Buildings of Detroit: A History by W. Hawkins Ferry”

https://www.facebook.com/events/435178813921974/

Dr. Carleton Gholz’s family copy of The Buildings of Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Gabe

“I grew up in a home with floor-to-ceiling bookcases and a huge reference library. My dad’s a poet and a professor and as such, my entire inheritance will be books. What I’ve found with books is that, if they’re there, you will use them.”

“We have all these artists and writers who need access to an archive of resources while in Detroit, so we’re trying to facilitate engagement in a meaningful way. Our collection will serve that purpose. We can help expose the public to our library, open it up to new perspectives and we hope to invite lots of people to engage in new and different types of thinking.”

The idea for the Red Bull Library came out of visiting artists who were missing their books and were therefore constantly going to the Detroit Public Library and we thought it was a great idea to have a library on-site for them. The library feels relevant, it’s a platform which willow allow us to help give voice to our community partners. What was once a blank space has been upgraded to provide better tools for artists. The library is a community tool.”

 

Carleton

“It raises an interesting question of what is the relationship of an artist to an archive? A background foundational knowledge of art and a variety of other things should be easily accessible and findable, which is why archives exist.”

“Personally, I’d like to see better arts funding being provided to help the community, like what Red Bull is doing with this Library, I think it’s tremendous. I find it interesting that a private company like Red Bull, feels its budget is better spent creating archives in an arts building, rather than doing something else with it.”

Gabe Chess & Dr. Carleton Gholz (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Gabe

“Well, Carleton, oddly what’s happened with Red Bull, points to what states should be doing, which is helping to provide funding for community progress. People typically only look at attendance numbers as a measure of success. High attendance figures are not always necessarily a good measure of delivery on a promise. If you build it, they will come.”

“Our Library is not exhaustive. It’s intended to be a series of meaningful books. There’s sometimes a myth of neutrality of institutions. Museums are often started by a handful of wealthy donors. This is a far more community-based effort and we’re very excited.”

 

Carleton

Agreed.”

 

Library Grand Opening event:

 

Reading Room: Dr. Carleton Gholz on “The Buildings of Detroit: A History by W. Hawkins Ferry”

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

 

Red Bull Arts Detroit Library

1551 Winder Street

Detroit, Michigan

Free entry, free street parking

 

Facebook Event Page

https://www.facebook.com/events/435178813921974/

Red Bull logo (courtesy of Red Bull)

 

Red Bull Arts Detroit Homepage

http://redbullarts.com/detroit/

 

RBA Detroit Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/redbullartsdetroit/

 

Dr. Carleton Gholz Homepage

http://csgholz.org/

 

Detroit Sound Conservancy

http://detroitsoundconservancy.org/

 

Buy the Hawkins Ferry book from WSU Press

https://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/buildings-detroit

 

Photos of the Hawkins Ferry House

https://www.wallpaper.com/art/william-kessler-michigan-modernist-house-hosts-group-art-show

Gabe Chess (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dr. Carleton Gholz (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Gabe Chess & Dr. Carleton Gholz (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dr. Carleton Gholz (photo by: Ryan M. Place)