Casey's and Sloane's Blog

Detroit and Me

In March, I fell in love with Detroit. It has not dampened my deep commitment to my city, but I am now sharing the love. It is a great American city. Truly.

I have followed Detroit’s bankruptcy proceedings through many media sources. All reliable and non-biased. I live in facts and details in most of what I do, so this affair has been no different.

Today on National Public Radio they ran the next installment in what has been a long and continuing story on the Motor City from multiple angles and points-of-view. This was about the Detroit Institute of Art possibly selling its multiple-billion-dollar collection – which is owned by the “people of the City of Detroit” – to help honor the debts of the city.

I cried. I pulled the car over, finished my tears, and pulled myself together. I felt like I had been socked in the gut. I had just been in that museum at spring break. I had just talked about that collection and its curatorial staff at a meeting this week at The Nelson. I had just….

I could not get over the fact that the soul of the city – its art collection – was currently being appraised by Christie’s and was being considered for auction and/or sale.

Why can’t the Detroit Lions or the Red Wings or the Pistons be considered for auction and possible sale? Why is art, yet again, being called upon to set its people free?

Because that’s what it did when its people made Detroit its home in the first place.

The people of the City of Detroit slowly purchased the art for the people. Wealthy people spearheaded some selections. However, a curator told me during my trip that “everyday” people started and finished fundraising campaigns for many of the pieces in the collection. Groups of people. Committees. People who saw that art would bring so much to the people who were busy most days in big, loud industries building with their hands big mechanical things. They knew that people who worked hard with their hands and their bodies would be very receptive to art and her redemptive powers.

I’m still not at peace with this issue. I don’t know if I ever will be. I will continue to listen and learn. I am going to try and visit Detroit again very soon and eat in her locally owned restaurants, sleep in her locally owned boutique hotels, talk with her smitten residents, and visit her amazing museums and public spaces.

I don’t know what I will do when I enter an art museum that is devoid of its center of gravity. I guess I will figure that out when I get there.


Here is a photo that I didn’t post earlier this year when I returned from Detroit. If you want to see more of my photos and hear about that trip, click here.


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8 Responses to Detroit and Me

  1. Barb Larson says:

    Hi Sloane, why don’t we organize a trip to Detroit – “Kansas Citians for Detroit”? I LOVE the DIA and all things Detroit. You know I’m a native Detroiter? Both parents born and buried there. I have gear for the Lions, Tigers and Red Wings. It could be a ton of fun. I’d suggest May-June-July timeframe. You went in July, right? Fabulous. Not great in the winter – not a lot of sunshine. Anyway, shoot me an email if you want to collaborate!

    • Sloane says:


      First off, thank you for reading our blogs.

      Second, I had no idea about your Detroit connection! We went in March and had a ball. It was our “Great North American Industrial Cities Tour” – Cleveland first, then Detroit. I am smitten. We should plan a trip. We stayed at the Chateau St. Regis near the Ford Medical Center and Motown. We ate great food, visited the DIA, drove around and took it all in.

      Have great holidays and let’s dish after the first of the year.

      – sloane

  2. p. claire pertalion says:

    i was listening to this also sloane and i thought the sale would be a big mistake. art museums are the soul of a city and to take away something that brings people together would be a huge wrong that would be impossible to right again.

    maybe we should start a letter compaign, letting the city know the reason people visit.

    • Sloane says:

      P. Claire:

      I want to scream from the mountaintops about this one. We should all do every darn thing we can think of to help Detroit and her art.

      Selling the soul of your city is a big mistake. And a point of no return.


      – sloane

  3. Ramelle says:

    I traveled to Detroit to watch the St. Louis Cardinals play the Detroit Tigers many years ago. On that trip, I insisted to all the baseball fans with me that we had to visit the DIA…and it was truly fabulous. Just over two years ago, part of my job at the time involved travel to Detroit. On one trip, I re-visited the DIA. Again, it was a truly fabulous trip. This just breaks my heart. Why is art the first thing that has “to go” to “honor the debts of the city”? It’s one thing to get yourself in trouble, like The Field Museum did to itself here in Chicago, but to auction off a great collection of art to help keep the city afloat? No, this isn’t the solution.

    You are spot on, Sloane, it’s a point of no return.

    • Sloane says:


      First, thank you for reading our blogs. I’m touched you can find time.

      This really isn’t sitting well with me. I keep wanting to use the word “shame”, as in “shame on XXX”. It should have never been structured this way and it should have been protected. Heck, in the 40 or so years past when they were handing out tax savings to the ball clubs and big business for their infrastructure, they should have had a wider view.

      Also, maybe shame on anyone who purchases these art pieces at auction. Maybe long-term loans or other financial wranglings could be maneuvered so that the people of the City of Detroit can still own what their forefathers and mothers bought for them and kept in their trust.

      Art should not take the brunt of this. Unfortunately, it is only a drop in the bucket in their financial troubles.



  4. p. claire pertalion says:

    hey there –

    i heard today on npr, that a very rich guy, that loves detroit and the art the city owns, has come to the rescue. he is trying to make sure they stay together.


    • Sloane says:

      Claire: I heard it too! And stayed in my parked car in the driveway to hear then end of the story. He is 5 million of the 330 million that has been promised. They are on their way to a solution. I think they might just get there …

      – sloane

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