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Michigan Central, the 30-acre innovation district in the Corktown and Southwest neighborhoods of Detroit, is coming to life with original artwork that engages and celebrates the community. Three Detroit-based artists are creating unique pieces for display at various locations at the site of Bagley Mobility Hub (2155 Bagley St.) designed to accentuate the structure, Bagley Street and the future Southwest Greenway.

Bagley Mobility Hub is one of four areas currently under development in the Michigan Central district and is scheduled to open later this year. While the main purpose of the structure is to provide parking for the surrounding area, it also will feature a pedestrian-friendly streetscape, platforms for art presentation and other public amenities. Mixed-media installations will be featured along Bagley Street, on the structure’s water cisterns and on the building’s south-facing stairwell.

Garage Cultural, a local arts and cultural organization led by Amelia Duran, will create artwork along Bagley Street in collaboration with Detroit-based artist DeMaciiio and Washington D.C.-based MasPaz. Building wraps by Senghor Reid will adorn the three water cisterns, while light art by Patrick Ethen will fill the building’s south-facing stairwell and beyond.
“We are honored to welcome these extraordinary artists to Michigan Central. Arts and culture will be a critical part of Michigan Central, reflecting who and what we represent, and these installations will be a meaningful first step for us,” said Joshua Sirefman, CEO of Michigan Central. “We are inspired by the ideas underpinning each of the artists’ proposals, and look forward to witnessing their creative processes and presenting their work to the broader community. Together, the three installations at the Bagley Mobility Hub will bring to life the interplay between mobility, community, and diverse perspectives that embodies Michigan Central.”

Reid, artist-in-residence at Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, has had his work exhibited in galleries and museums in the U.S. and abroad, including Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit. His work explores the interaction between the human body and the environment, with an emphasis on water. At Michigan Central, his installation will feature textured depictions of major bodies of water in Michigan – including the Great Lakes and Detroit River – on each of the water cisterns along what will become Southwest Greenway. A native of Southwest Detroit, Reid hopes to foster an appreciation for water and local waterways through his work, which will be applied via vinyl wraps.

“I try to create imagery that will be intriguing and engaging,” said Reid. “I want people, especially young people, to be engaged by bright colors, movement and the flow of the work in the hope they will in some way be inspired to think about their relationships with water.”

Art on the Block is a community public art initiative of Garage Cultural, a local arts and cultural organization with more than 40 years of history in Southwest Detroit that has produced more than 15 large-scale murals. Duran, who lives two blocks away from Michigan Central district, serves as co-director of the collective. The group aims to include local artists and organizations to create a piece spanning a 97-foot stretch along Bagley Street at ground level.

Duran, co-director of Garage Cultural, sees public art as a way to reinvigorate hope in the community. “For us, it was really amazing to be selected for this project,” she said. “As longtime residents who have been driving art and cultural work for a very long time in our community, we feel like it’s important to elevate people who have been doing this work before there was a presence like Ford, or an influx of development and resources coming in.”

The concept of the piece, “For Us, By Us,” will honor those involved with the Equitable Internet Initiative, a program created in 2015 to address gaps in internet access in Detroit. Duran was inspired by the work the group has done to create the infrastructure the community needs to access the essential technology. The project, led by residents of the community, will be installed with vinyl wraps, marking the group’s first installation that is not painted.

Ethen, an architecturally trained artist and designer, is producing an abstract installation of slowly moving neon light patterns in the south-facing stairwell of the six-level Bagley Mobility Hub. A resident of Corktown who has been working in Detroit since 2015, Ethen’s kinetic light sculpture uses neon bulbs to produce saturated color frequencies that create a glowing wall.

“It’s going to be this glowing wall of a staircase on the inside and outside,” he said. “The moving light on the façade is going to change the light combinations on the inside of the stairwell, and from the outside, you’re going to see these large motions happening the size of a six-story building façade. It’s very simple, but there’s a lot of complex behavior and color interaction and color mixture that happens.”

A public call to Detroit-based artists and teams to submit work for any of the three locations at Bagley Mobility Hub was issued earlier this year by the public art commission, which drew nearly 60 proposals. Artists were encouraged to explore the past, present and future of mobility, showcasing how art can enliven and tell the stories of the surrounding community that connects the people of Detroit to the world. Short-listed artists submitted final proposals, which were then reviewed by the Michigan Central District Art Program curatorial advisory board and project team. The advisory board then made its recommendations on the final selections.

The artists start work this month and will continue throughout the summer, culminating in a fall unveiling.

Making Michigan Central a global art destination
This project marks the first of many that will make up the Michigan Central District Art Program. The art program, launched in 2021, aims to establish the district as a global arts and culture destination, exploring how art contributes to the future of mobility while connecting the surrounding neighborhoods. The program shares the guiding principles and philosophy of Michigan Central, celebrating equity, inclusivity, and innovation.

Michigan Central District Art Program is guided by a rotating group of artists, curators, nonprofit and community organization leaders, and institutional members of Detroit’s arts and culture scene. The group makes sure Michigan Central maintains a grassroots connection to Detroit’s creative community and that the art is reflective, supportive, and equitably engaged with the community.

“There aren’t enough words to express how excited I am that Michigan Central has made the incorporation of local art a part of this vital transformation of a state treasure,” said Rochelle Riley, director of Arts and Culture, city of Detroit, and Michigan Central curatorial board member. “I think that residents and tenants and tourists will be thrilled with the result. And I hope it gives our local arts community hope that companies like Ford understand how important our creative workforce is.”

The process for the Bagley Mobility Hub art installations was facilitated by Vancouver-based independent art advisory Farmboy Fine Arts.

About Bagley Mobility Hub
Bagley Mobility Hub is a state-of-the-art, tech-enabled mobility center offering 1,252 parking spots, an autonomous vehicle testing area, e-bike and e-scooter stations, electric charging, automated payment technology and smart guidance systems.

The facility is designed as a community-facing resource, with streetscape enhancements, ground floor retail, access to micro-mobility solutions and new public amenities, including restrooms, free Wi-Fi, two outdoor plazas and shaded seating areas. The secure facility will be open 24 hours, seven days a week and offer access to public parking.

Bagley Mobility Hub will serve as a gateway and shared resource for users of Southwest Greenway, which is being constructed by Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to link the new west riverfront Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park to the train station.

The Bagley Mobility Hub is a joint venture between Ford Land, Vokal Ventures LLC and Detroit Opportunity Fund II LLC, an entity controlled by the Rakolta family.