Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan commemorated International Artist Day this week by announcing the inaugural Detroit ACE Honors, which recognize the achievements of artists and patrons who have served the arts scene for more than 25 years. and cultural heritage of Detroit.
A ceremony, to be held in January, will award each winner with a Detroit ACE Medal of Excellence. The event will also unveil the members of the Detroit Council of the Arts, who will choose the recipients in the years to come.
The first Detroit ACE Medal recipients, announced on Monday, are:
- Elizabeth (Betty) Brooks, Board Member of the Detroit Historical Society, Motown Museum, Detroit Jazz Festival, Detroit Institute of Arts, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Michigan Opera Theater. Brooks chaired the Detroit Public Library’s 150th Anniversary Celebration and the Second Annual Eastern Market Harvest Celebration, and is an appointed member of the Detroit City Police Commissioners Council.
- David Di Chiera, founder of Michigan Opera Theater and former president of Opera America. The late DiChiera was the critically acclaimed composer of “Four Sonnets” (premiered at the Kennedy Center) and “Cyrano” (premiered at the Detroit Opera House, later presented by the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Florida Grand Opera) . He was also a prominent Kresge artist in 2013 and recipient of the Opera Honors Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the country’s highest honor for his entire career in the field of opera.
- Robert S. Duncanson, a prolific painter known for his large-scale landscapes. He established a studio in Detroit in 1849, where he would become the most accomplished African-American painter of the 1850s and 1860s. A collection of Duncanson’s works is housed at the Detroit Institute of Arts. He is considered the first African-American artist to achieve international recognition and has been proclaimed by the American media as “the best landscape painter in the West”.
- LeRoy Foster, great portrait painter and muralist known for his public commissions, including “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass” for the Frederick Douglass branch of the Detroit Public Library, “Kaleidoscope” for the lobby of the Southwest Detroit Hospital and “Renaissance City” for the former Building of the Technical High School Cass. Foster was a graduate of Cass Tech, the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts School (now the College of Creative Studies), the Académie de la Grand Chaumeire in Paris, and the Heatherly School of Art in London. In 1958, he co-founded the Contemporary Studio with Charles McGee, Harold Neal and Henri Umbaji King.
- Tyree Guyton, neo-expressionist artist, Kresge Artist Fellow 2009 and creator of the internationally renowned Heidelberg project. Guyton studied at the College for Creative Studies and received an honorary doctorate in fine arts. It has been featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the University of Michigan Museum of Art and the Studio Museum of Harlem as well as in the Emmy Award-winning documentary “Come Unto Me: The Faces of Tyree Guyton”.
- Vera Heidelberg, co-chair of the first Classical Roots Celebration, an annual concert sponsored by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra recognizing African-American contributions to classical music. Heidelberg is a graduate of the Detroit Institute of Technology and Wayne State University. She is a member of the Greater Wayne County Links Section and served as the Chair of the United Negro College Fund Women’s Committee.
- Artis Street, portrait painter and sculptor known for his works featuring President John F. Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Henry Kissinger, Barbara Bush, Rosa Parks, Michael Jordan and Aretha Franklin. Lane was the first woman to be admitted to the prestigious Cranbrook Art Academy. She received the Women of Excellence Award from the Museum of African American Art in Los Angeles and the Women for Women Award from the Martin Luther King, Jr. General Hospital Foundation.
- Charles McGee, a prolific painter and sculptor whose work has been exhibited at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. McGee, who died in February, was the founder of the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit and the first Kresge Eminent Artist in 2008. Over the years, he has also advised the State of Michigan, the city of Detroit and many local art institutions. on cultural initiatives.
- Carlos nielbock, artist, engineer and craftsman in architectural and design ornamental metal, whose work has been featured in the Fox Theater Restoration. Inventor of the Detroit Windmill, the first and only fully recycled low-level wind turbine, Nielbock is UNESCO Ambassador to Detroit City of Design and Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He is also the founder of CAN Art Handworks, an ornamental architectural metal craftsmanship studio in east Detroit.
- Dudley Randall, the City of Detroit’s first Poet Laureate. Randall was the founder of Broadside Press and was once called “the father of the black poetry movement” by Black Enterprise Magazine. In addition, he was the author of “A Litany of Friends: New and Selected Poems” and “More to Remember: Poems of Four Decades”, as well as the editor of “The Black Poets and For Malcom: Poems on the Life and Death ”. by Malcolm X.
- Gretchen Valade, philanthropist and principal patron of many Detroit arts institutions, including the Detroit Jazz Festival and the Wayne State University jazz program. She is the founder of Grammy Award-winning Mack Avenue Records and the Gretchen C. Valade Endowment for the Arts. Valade is also President of Carhartt Inc. and owner of Dirty Dog Jazz Café and Morning Glory Coffee at Grosse Pointe Farms.
- Marilyn Wheaton, longtime director of the City of Detroit’s Department of Cultural Affairs, Concerned Citizens for the Arts in Michigan, and the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum on the Saginaw Valley State University campus. Wheaton helped orchestrate the art for the Detroit Tercentennial celebration, including the International Underground Railroad Memorial by the Detroit River. Throughout her career before retiring in 2018, she worked to make Detroit a cultural destination by raising funds for arts programs in the city.
- Debra White-Hunt, co-founder and artistic director of the Detroit-Windsor Dance Academy. White-Hunt has choreographed over 50 ballets and conducted over 100 dance concerts. A 2020 Kresge Arts scholar, she has been tasked with creating works for stage, television and film and has received numerous local and national awards for her excellence in the arts and education.
- Shirley woodson, a painter known for his large-scale figurative works exhibited at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The longtime Detroit Public Schools teacher and supervisor of fine arts was Kresge’s prominent artist in 2021. She is also a co-founder of the Michigan section of the National Conference of Artists, the national arts organization. the oldest dedicated to the promotion, development and promotion of opportunities for black visual artists.
An award will also be given to the Kresge Foundation, which since 2008 has awarded more than $ 6.7 million through Kresge Arts to the Kresge Eminent Artist Awards, Kresge Artist Fellowships and Gilda Awards in Detroit. Kresge also supported the City of Detroit’s Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship (ACE) during its first two years.
Detroit ACE Director Rochelle Riley told Free Press: “As the mayor said, it is high time for us to honor the iconic genius that we have in this city. We have created some amazing artists, and they are greeted all over the country. I want us to hug them at home as they are hugged elsewhere. “