... was spent in Detroit, with several artists and a community looking to, as they say, make things better. It seems to be working: There's a whole lot of grassroots goodness going on here in the art community that's slowly turning the notion of Detroit as metaphor for blight into one of creative possibility. Let's face it: They have great material; an empire was built here in short order in the early part of the 20th century, and its ruins are no less spectacular -- and much more profound, for their close-to-the bone-ness in our lurching post-industrial economy -- than anything in Rome.
On the advice of Scott Hocking, I ducked a few loose security measures and slipped inside a couple of iconic ruins, Fisher Auto Body (above) and the old Packard Factory, both of which Hocking has used to make site specific installations. They're extraodinary places, foreboding, but peaceful, too (Hocking describes them as "My walk in the woods;" he's been trekking their innards since he was a kid.
In any case, the scale of these sites is astonishing, as is their decrepitude. Is it politically correct to call failure on so grand a scale inspiring? For artists like Hocking, no such distinction is necessary; they're part of his life, and vital to his work. And, frankly, spectacular.