DETROIT: Eastern Market After Dark

31 Oct

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When you think of Eastern Market, you probably picture fresh produce, rows of flowers, vendors selling baked goods, cheese, pickles and salsa. There is another side to the market you might not be so familiar with; artist studios, galleries, boutiques, hacker spaces, eateries and creative spaces. At night the market takes on a completely different personality, it feels mysterious, like some secret underground world……. Tonight we will explore all of this and more, it is Eastern Market After Dark. It is a warmer than usual Thursday evening, people have flocked to the market for a series of events including Third Thursday’s, Detroit Design Festival and a AIA Membership party, with so much to see and do we better get going…..

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We begin the evening on Gratiot Ave, there has been a bevy of activity in recent months, buildings have been renovated, new businesses have moved in, with more on the way. Inner State Gallery is our first stop, the first floor has been transformed into a wonderful gallery space; walls are white, bold, framed pieces cover the length of the furthest wall. We meander through smaller sections, each featuring a different artist and style, a tiny section gleaming in light from funky fixtures made of plain old cardboard. Exhibits rotate frequently inviting visitors to stop in often. Service Street runs narrowly behind this section of buildings, tonight it has come alive with pedestrians, balloons and activity. Jesse Knott is hard at work preparing tasty dishes on an oversized grill, it smells delicious! We walk over to the folding table that serves as a display for menu items and place our order. Within minutes we are handed three cardboard baskets filled with tasty items; the Inca dog is a veggie dog topped with quinoa chili, cheddar, mustard and shallot, you’ll never miss the meat. The Roast Pork Quesadilla is outstanding; moist, tender pork, green chili sauce, cilantro and muenster cheese grilled to perfection. The BBQ Lentil Slider is a lentil patty, lava sauce, mayo, cheddar and romaine on toast, excellent. 

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Strolling further down Service Street we notice a door is ajar, a sign summons us up to the second floor of an old furniture warehouse, here we find Cyberoptix Tie Lab. Their tag line is “Ties that don’t suck”, they don’t! Beautiful, creative designs are available in a rainbow of colors and designs. Bethany Shorb and her team hand-print and heat set every single tie and scarf they sell; printed on silk or microfiber, designs include Detroit themes, botanicals, peacock feathers, circuit boards etc. etc. Tall windows overlook Gratiot, we are free to roam through the work area, ties and scarves are arranged throughout the studio on tables, draped over luggage and in baskets. With the holidays approaching, keep this place in mind for unique gift giving. Adjoining Cyberoptix is the NNII International Gallery, the artwork is diverse, colorful, interesting. The studio is sectioned off with cool pieces of furniture and sitting areas, we really liked the automotive themed pieces. Back outside, heading towards the end of the block, we stumble upon a great courtyard, walls are covered in murals, a black circular fireplace rests near the center, picnic tables and a grill are ready to entertain. We round the corner and are back on Gratiot, the door is open to a building we’ve always admired. For years we have driven by this slender Art Nouveau beauty with the smoked glass windows wondering what it is like inside, tonight we found out. The main floor has been re-worked over the years, the second floor still retains much of its nouveau charm, it is used as a creative and meeting space by Trans-Love Energies. Dark has fallen, the lights of the city gleam in the distance, across the street the top two stories of a historic building has come alive with colors as images are projected onto it. In front of us a giant American flag shrouds a storefront and  billows in the night breeze.

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Back in the market area Omni Corp Detroit has opened its doors to the public. Deemed a space for hackers and makers, at any given time you can find designers, artists, engineers and musicians hard at work on both floors of the building. Inside we are greeted by 2-wheeled modes of transportation; bicycles, mopeds and mini-bikes are parked for the evening. Two varieties of kilns are tucked into a corner along with an air compressor, random tools lay about. Upstairs colorful lanterns create a party-like atmosphere, work tables and machines are still, shelving is stacked with unfinished projects. A sizable window provides us with a vast view of the market area, there isn’t a parking space to be found in the area, the Detroit skyline glows in the distance-what a sight. Thursday nights are Open Hacknights, sign up to learn how to hollow a book, create metal weavings, use a laser cutter, type set or get the skinny on tax auctions. Around the corner we pop into Red Bull House of Art, with just a couple of weeks left in this artist cycle, we wanted to check it out. As usual the art is fresh and intriguing, tonight the gallery is crowded with visitors. 

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Riopelle Street is home to a new pet shop called 3 Dogs, 1 Cat, the front of the shop is absolutely charming; french doors open onto the sidewalk, pots of Mums in full bloom are clustered on bales of hay and along the sidewalk, a table of puppy-sized Lions jersey’s and Halloween costumes rests near the door. The shop stocks a large variety of leashes, collars, toys and other goodies your four-legged friends would love to have. Tonight even the canines are enjoying themselves, pet lovers browse the store, leashes in hand, I can’t resist petting a few of the pups myself. Near the cash register an adorable black dog dressed up in bat wings greets shoppers as they pass, too cute! Salt & Cedar is one of two letterpress studios in Eastern Market, the shop is quaint, tonight the place is packed; on display is a series of posters and other items produced over the last year. Someone is doing a demonstration on a press, a crowd is gathering in the back of the building, I see wine glasses and a lovely table set for guests. Across the street is the newest business to call Riopelle home ARIA Urban Artifacts. Still in its early stages, the building is filled with two levels of old stuff; furniture, signs, luggage, some of it rusty, some of it re-purposed, it’s a fun place to look around.

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Walking through the shed area a group of food trucks has gathered, pedestrians are enjoying Mac and Cheese, Beignets and other goodies, The AIA is holding their membership party in Shed 3, blue LED lights radiate through the windows.  Collision Works First Container project is open, a shipping container has been re-purposed into a small hotel room space, the plan is to build a full 36-room boutique hotel in the near future. At Germack Coffee back on Russell a band performs street-side, we grab a couple of iced coffees and go back outside to enjoy the music. 

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We decide to extend the night with a visit to the Fountain Bistro at Campus Martius. Taking a table on the patio, our view is spectacular; surrounding skyscrapers light up the night sky, directly in front of us the fountain shoots streams of water high into the air, the Soldiers and Sailors monument stands guard. We order the charcuterie plate from the bar menu and a couple of cocktails. We nibble on fancy crackers, thinly sliced hams, salami and tapenade, folks wander about, trying to get that perfectly timed photo of the fountain, all of us enjoying the amazing things Detroit has to offer.

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One Response to “DETROIT: Eastern Market After Dark”

  1. Tereza S November 1, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    So cool!!

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