The art festival July 19-21 in Detroit will raise money for Art Road, a nonprofit that brings art classes back to public schools.
By Kyla Heat
Detroit’s Russell Industrial Center will be transformed into an art oasis with live glassblowing, interactive art, music and more during The Michigan Glass Project art festival July 19-21.
In its eighth year, The Michigan Glass Project is raising money for Art Road, a nonprofit that brings art classes back to Detroit public schools as part of the annual curriculum. In the past, proceeds benefited the Belle Isle Conservancy.
Since the nonprofit’s inception in 2012, Allison Key, co-founder of The Michigan Glass Project, wanted to bring artists together in a way that would benefit the community.
“We started as a group of glass artists from different communities that wanted to unite for a common cause,” Key says. “It’s really special that we are able to have a festival that can bring art back into schools, while artists from everywhere can participate.”
The fusion of live art making and music drew more than 35,000 people to the three-day festival last year.
This year, there will be an outdoor stage with a catwalk featuring live bands and DJs. Another will display artwork and feature over 100 vendors and live art auctions. Over the years, Key says, the organization has raised more than $345,000. Last year, Art Road received a $125,000 donation, which organizers hope to top this year.
“We always want to beat last year’s goal,” Key says. “The number of participants continues to grow. We have artists that come as far as Canada and California.”
With the help of MGP, Art Road has been able to bring art back to five schools, including Spain Elementary-Middle School, Charles H. Wright Academy of Arts and Science , and Edison Elementary in Detroit and Grandport Elementary Academy and Ralph J. Bunche Academy in Ecorse.
The funds help pay for materials and employ artists to teach art classes every 45 minutes in schools. In return, more students are exposed to art.
“Attendance is up because the kids don’t want to miss art class,” says Carol Hofgartner, Art Road founder and executive director. “They want to learn.”
Mike Shelbo travels from Vista, California, each year to participate in the art festival. The last four years, Shelbo has been an emcee for the event and live auction and creates live glass art.
“I love working side by side with artists to make unique designs that sell for thousands of dollars in the live and silent auction,” says Shelbo, a Royal Oak native. Shelbo has been a glassmaker for 21 years and specializes in realistic goblin sculptors that can take three to four hours to make.
“Working with an organization that does good work for the community and can introduce art in the school and teach the next generation is really special,” Shelbo says. “Whether you create marbles, cups or neon signs, you can make a living. It’s proof that art is an option.”
The Michigan Glass Project Art Festival
Russell Industrial Center Exhibition Center
1600 Clay St., Detroit
Purchase a $15 day pass or $30 weekend pass at themichiganglassproject.com